July 27, 2011

What’s the frequency, Haroon?

The magic number isn’t 56, apparently

Saturday, 23rd July Steve Waugh says that 56 players have come forward to report approaches by bookmakers in the last year, compared with five for the previous year.

“That suggest the players have confidence in the system and confidence it will work.”

Absolutely. Or it might suggest that what happened to Salman Butt and chums has put the wind up every player in the game and they’re not leaving anything to chance. But let’s not be uncharitable. The important thing is that they are coming forward.

Haroon Lorgat agrees. But he didn’t get to be where he is today without finding something trivial to disagree about. He doesn’t know where Steve has got the figure of 56 players from. So what’s the real figure, Haroon?

"There's one individual in the Anti-Corruption and Security Unit that maintains such records and he does not even know the figure himself, simply because he had not compiled it.”

Hang on. If you don’t know what the figure is, how do you know it isn’t 56? And more to the point, why don’t you know the figure? What kind of spreadsheets are you using at ICC Towers? Is your chap in the Anti-Corruption and Security Unit not trained to use a calculator?

So until Haroon sorts it out, let’s all join in and play ICC Corruption Bingo. Steve’s already bagged 56, so I’m going to go for 42. Pick a number, and if you guess right, you’ll win a leather jacket, a brown envelope and the phone number of a good lawyer.

Monday, 25th July Something terrible has happened to Test Match Special. I’d heard it was poorly, but dear me, I wasn’t quite expecting this. Jonathan Agnew has gone all grumpy; Geoffrey Boycott’s monologues sound like a recording of Churchill’s speeches played too slowly through a dodgy speaker: you know that what he’s saying is quite important but it still makes you want to chew your own ears off; and Phil Tufnell appears to have only the vaguest idea what is going on at any given moment.

And then there’s Michael Vaughan. Listening to him is like having an audio feed from the England dressing room. He has two modes of broadcasting. He’s either telling you what he did at the weekend or he’s giving you his England team talk, in which the phrase “the boys” appears distressingly often. The nadir of his contribution was when Tendulkar was dismissed and he screamed “Yeeeessssss!” into the microphone so loud I could swear I felt his spittle in my ear.

Tuesday, 26th July There are many approaches to picking a cricket team. Here in Blighty, due to European Union Human Rights Regulations, the paperwork involved in dropping anyone from the England team is so onerous*, it is easier to just cut and paste the same XI from the game before. Indeed, the only chance a player has of breaking into the team is if one of the incumbents retires, resigns or has an affair with the prime minister.

But they do things differently in Australia, where Andrew Hilditch is known to favour the Lucky Dip approach. Before each series, he reaches into his Bag Of Unlikely Candidates and pulls out something unexpected. This time it’s another new spinner, Nathan Lyon. I’ve never heard of him, and to be honest, there’s probably only a 50-50 chance that Digger has heard of him either, but then that’s the thrill of the Lucky Dip!

* For example, I believe the Deselection Trauma Counselling Referral form (known as the “Hick 1A”) runs to 17 pages and has to be countersigned by the chairman of selectors, the Archbishop of Canterbury and the player’s mother.

Andrew Hughes is a writer currently based in England