England v India 2011 September 17, 2011

Farewell to the Disappointing Museum

And hello to the reign of the comedy captain

Tuesday, 13th September I don’t think I’m speaking out of turn when I say that the Indian cricket team have been a bit of a disappointment this summer. In fact they’ve taken us on a tour of the Disappointment Museum, which included four extended diaromas of disappointment and six smaller exhibitions, each one slightly more disappointing than the last, followed by a visit to the Damp Squib Gift Shop and a cup of disappointingly weak tea in the Dear God Let It End Soon Cafeteria.

And newspapers too have had a thin time of it. Sachin not getting that thing that we don’t talk about in case we jinx it meant that once they’d run the “England are now quite good” story a couple of times, there was very little left to say. In particular, there have been thin-pickings controversy-wise. MS Dhoni’s generosity at Trent Bridge spoiled a perfectly good diplomatic incident and neither Vaselinegate nor Donkeygate really caught on, despite the best efforts of all concerned.

So with only a week to go until the cold bath water of India’s tour finally trickles down the plughole of fate, time is running out for desperate hacks to make a big splash. Hence today’s attempt to turn the Indian team’s non-attendance at the ICC Awards ceremony into a Big Event. The details are thoroughly yawnsome. It was either an administrative blunder or a diplomatic absence. Either way, who cares?

The ICC Awards ceremony, like most awards ceremonies, registers highly on the Hughes Tedium Scale, just above weddings and just below a trip to a carpet warehouse. Expensive suits, tedious speeches and long-winded ceremony: I can get all that on the Parliament Channel. If the Indian players didn’t want to go, who can blame them. I wouldn’t go either, not even if I was offered a ride to the venue in a diamond-studded sleigh pulled by Haroon Lorgat’s flock of prize peacocks.

Thursday, 15th September I’m looking forward to Graeme Swann’s captaincy in the same way that I used to look forward to the clowns at the circus. I don’t mean to imply that Graeme is a clumsy, red-nosed buffoon in oversized shoes and amusing trousers, but he is the comic relief in this England team, the light entertainment amidst the straight-faced performers; a comedy captain for a couple of comedy matches.

And a lot of credit must go to the ECB for their daring scheduling. What better way to satirise the Champions League Twenty20 than by forcing their own players to take part in two meaningless T20 games in order to fulfil the requirements of a television contract based on a deal with an international fraudster. Take that, BCCI! I only hope Giles Clarke will be popping into the England dressing room before the game to ensure that he gets all the credit for this extension to the players’ season.

Andrew Hughes is a writer currently based in England