August 24, 2011

South Africa

1000% committed? Sorry, not good enough

Andrew Hughes
Michael Clarke shares a thought with Tim Nielsen, Brisbane, July 4, 2011
Tim Nielsen was horrified to learn his sun-screen was a mere SPF 45  © Getty Images
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Saturday, 20th August Australian inflation is out of control. Don’t believe me? Today Tim Nielsen said he was 100,000% behind Australia being the best team in the world. We live in hard times, friends, and 100% or even 110% just doesn’t cut it anymore.

Or perhaps he was hoping to scare off his potential replacements with the sheer numerical magnitude of his platitude. Maybe Mickey Arthur is sitting at home shaking his head thinking, “Damn, I was good for 1000% but even I can’t get away with claiming 100,000%. Reckon I won’t bother applying after all.”

It won’t work, of course. Nielsen is toast. He is toast that has been in the toaster so long that it has set off the smoke alarm, and when it is finally popped out will be going straight into the bin with the potato peelings, the cold coffee grinds and yesterday’s Daily Telegraph. Still, he shouldn’t worry. With such a cavalier approach to numeracy, a career in the investment banking industry surely awaits.

Sunday, 21st August A few weeks ago Shahid Afridi announced he was retiring from public life, adding that this was a conditional retirement, which we could have guessed, since all of his other retirements have been conditional (on his remembering why it was that he retired). In fact, his entire career has been conditional, a litany of ifs, maybes and what-might-have-beens-if-only-he-hadn’t-done-that.

And now, in the least surprising piece of sports news since we learned that MS Dhoni was “a bit disappointed” with the way his summer had gone, we learn that the man with the lovely hair is un-retiring. In response, the ICC has moved the level of Afridiness in world cricket from Shahid 5 up to Shahid 3, in anticipation of the return of the prodigal. And Professor Spectacles, Head of Afridi Studies at the Lahore Institute of Chaos, is very excited by this latest Afridi-related development.

“I have been mapping Shahid bhai’s public statements on this graph, where the x axis represents time and the y axis represents degree of craziness, and as you can see, if you join all the dots on the graph, it actually forms a reclining profile of Imran Khan’s face. This is a hugely significant development for Pakistan cricket, probably.”

Tuesday, 23rd August While the England players nurse tender heads and try to remember where they left their keys, swear to themselves that they will never again mix vintage Bollinger with James Anderson’s aunty’s homemade gooseberry brandy, and attempt to piece together what happened last night from the photographs in the tabloids, a collection of the toughest, roughest men ever to wear silly sunglasses has assembled at a top-secret location. Their mission: Destroy England. And do some other stuff first.

I like the fact that South Africa are calling their pre-season get-together a camp. It puts you in mind of a spartan facility somewhere on the savannah with tin-roofed shacks, rudimentary showers and barbed-wire fences, seven miles from the nearest water hole and surrounded by man-eating lions, psychotic rhinoceroses and mean-spirited giraffes. In reality it is the Arabella Golf Estate near Cape Town, although I hear that some of the bunkers are pretty brutal.

And though there is some tiresome business involving Australia and Sri Lanka to get through first, Allan Donald, South Africa’s new verbal-abuse co-ordinator, has already made a start on next summer’s sledging (because it’s never too early to tell someone you’re going to knock their f*****g head off), by leaving rude and frankly sarcastic messages on the voicemail of each member of the England batting order, and Ravi Bopara (just in case). And to ram the message home, every South African player has been asked to tick “Don’t Like” on the “England Are Number One” Facebook page.*

*Under the EU Satirical Remarks Concerning Countries Of Origin Quota Agreement, I am not allowed at this point to make humorous reference to the birthplaces of certain members of a certain northern European cricket team being not entirely and in every respect without the borders of a populous republic situated towards the southern end of the African continent. So please feel free to attach your own. And don’t forget Jade Dernbach.

Andrew Hughes is a writer currently based in England

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© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

Posted by Anonymous on (August 29, 2011, 16:55 GMT)

'Head of Afridi Studies at the Lahore Institute of Chaos' Hahahah!!!! Every Pakistani player retires at least 8 times in his playing career, it is mandatory now, this practice was created by Imran and Javed, in Pakistan, you are not allowed to have two good players in the team at the same time. Talking of crazy all-rounders; on tour in Australia Abdul Razzaq ate only palak paneer for two months, lost weight, lost energy, didn't tell anyone then when he batted at 3 took 70 balls to score four. Commentators thought this was the other side of Razzaq and were surprised. Actually he was so weak, he was using the bat to stand up. Captain Inzi, who usually eats four whole chickens for dinner was so frustrated, he vowed never to pick Razzaq again. This was known as "Paneergate".

Posted by gino10 on (August 28, 2011, 7:53 GMT)

u ppl just cant get enough of Afridi cant u.............wel he's just like dat.....!

Posted by Alfred on (August 24, 2011, 23:06 GMT)

Absolutely love the political correctness disclaimer...

Posted by Going South on (August 24, 2011, 17:15 GMT)

ROFL@over time, afridi's crazyness becomes Imran Khan's face. ;)

Posted by Kumar on (August 24, 2011, 15:19 GMT)

"Head of Afridi Studies at the Lahore Institute of Chaos"- simply superb !! 200,000% awesome !

Posted by Gaurav on (August 24, 2011, 15:04 GMT)

Avid cricket fan here... support India. Lately I have found myself simply nursing my battered pride and cursing the "fate" that has also been the punching bag of BCCI and the selectors. Not to get started on that, this is not the format. Your post dragged me out of my emotional seriousness into the amusement park of cricket. There is an element of humor in every sport and you and Andy seem to be the custodians for cricket. Thanks... you are simply awesome!

Cheers! G

Posted by king on (August 24, 2011, 14:29 GMT)

A complete non sense editorial

Posted by Prashant on (August 24, 2011, 13:48 GMT)

"and Ravi Bopara (just in case)" was classic! Poor Bopara. I'm sure he can nail the No. 6 spot in the Indian team if he only chooses to play for India instead. :)

Posted by AndyZaltzmannsHair on (August 24, 2011, 13:06 GMT)

You've got an unhealthy fascination with Lala Afridi, Mr Hughes. Don't be jealous of his beautiful hair and million dollar smile. You just want to be him, don't you? You're resentful of the fact that Afridi barely puts in 30 mins of cricketing performance in each game he plays, and yet still manages, somehow, to be the focus of attention, win the man of the match award and get called a world class player. Afridi is the ultimate player. Barely does any work and still gets all the ladies.

Posted by Nameless on (August 24, 2011, 12:20 GMT)

This made me laugh. Seriously. Imran Khan on the graph!

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Andrew Hughes
Andrew Hughes is a writer and avid cricket watcher who has always retained a healthy suspicion of professional sportsmen, and like any right-thinking person rates Neville Cardus more highly than Don Bradman. His latest book is available here and here @hughandrews73

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