England v India 2011 August 3, 2011

The predicament of MP Vaughan, pop fan

Also featuring: the multifarious talents of Dhoni, and Zimbabwe’s surprise options

Saturday, 30th July Michael Vaughan found himself in a sticky situation today, thanks to a popular ointment, Britpop, and the perils of Twitter. An entire sewage farm of e-effluence was poured onto his virtual head when the world mistakenly assumed that he had accused VVS Laxman of applying slippery foreign substances to his bat. In fact, MPV was a hapless victim of circumstance. Earlier in the day he had received this tweet:

“@MPVaughan what’s your favourite petroleum jelly-themed chorus by an English indie band?”

To which he had little choice but to reply:

“Vaseline! La la la-la la la la la-la-la la! #Elastica”

Unfortunately this tweet was tweeted at precisely the same moment that television replays were showing no hint of hot whiteness on VVS’s ghostly grey bat.

I hope this clears up any misunderstanding and also defuses any hostility that might have been provoked by his later tweeting of “Cigarettes and Alcohol” just as Nasser Hussain was asking why Sachin is out of form, and his unfortunately timed reference to “Big Mouth Strikes Again” as Geoffrey Boycott began his commentary stint.

Sunday, 31st July Poor Ian Bell. He was going along swimmingly, having scored 137 of the politest, most well-behaved runs in Test match history. The world was a lovely, happy place. Already his thoughts were turning to his tea-time glass of strawberry-flavoured milk and his post-game episode of Peppa Pig. He watched Eoin Morgan hit the ball towards the boundary, the little umpire in his head called over and he was off.

And well done to MS Dhoni for saving the day. His noblesse oblige belongs to a parallel universe in which Geoff Hurst went to check with the Azerbaijani linesman, because from where he was standing, he didn’t think the ball had crossed the line; the Greeks got back into their wooden horse and asked to be wheeled out of Troy because it just didn’t feel right; and George W Bush asked for a state-wide recount in Florida on the grounds that he wanted to win but he didn’t want to win like that.

There was more to it than that. Dhoni, in addition to being one of India’s foremost commercial endorsers, a jetsetting magazine interviewee, a national hero and an occasional cricketer, also holds down a part-time job in the Indian Foreign Office. Yes, Ian Bell scored another 22 runs, but those runs didn’t come cheap. This evening there’s a new Anglo-Indian trade agreement on the regulation of prices in the paper clip industry that wasn’t there yesterday. Nice diplomacy, MS.

Monday, 1st August Zimbabwe’s new captain, Brendan Taylor, has declared that his team may have a few surprises for Bangladesh in their forthcoming Test clash, which is already being billed in some quarters as Bangladesh’s fourth Test win. But what, we wonder, could Zimbabwe have up their sleeves to surprise an opponent they have met 18 times in the last two years? Here are three possible surprise scenarios.

1. Zimbabwe don’t turn up at all, later claiming that the entire team developed Bell’s Syndrome, a rare and only recently discovered form of temporary cricket-related amnesia. The match is abandoned, which is officially not the same as losing.

2. Soon after arriving at the ground, they express indignation at the lack of a gluten-free vegetarian option on the lunch menu and remain in their dressing room for five days, hoping the ICC will declare the game a draw.

3. Just before the toss, Taylor goes into the Bangladeshi dressing room and asks Shakib Al Hasan if, in the Spirit of Cricket, he wouldn’t mind conceding the match. It’s worth a try.

Andrew Hughes is a writer currently based in England