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Saturday, 24th September
Those of us who are hauling around a little more personal freight than we’d like are always on the lookout for inventive ways to lessen the burden on our belt buckles, so the news that a man called Mike had recently lost four kilos in two days was very exciting. But having looked into the Hussey Diet, I should warn unwary fatties, his new plan, Lose Weight And Play Till You’re Forty-Eight, is a tough one to follow.
For a start, there’s a lot of preparation involved. You’ll need to take up professional cricket in order to get selected for the Australian Test team. And then it gets a lot tougher. Stage two involves flying out to Sri Lanka and batting for several hours in extreme humidity whilst wearing a heavy hat and an unnecessary amount of padding as other people take it in turns to throw leather balls at you.
On reflection, I think I’ll just reduce my daily doughnut ration and see how it goes.
The man himself, though, is a superb advertisement for the benefits of dehydration. He was back in the Champions League today, putting together a handy little eightysomething against Mumbai; a carefully assembled piece of craftsmanship, like a lovingly carved dresser or a pretty mahogany desk; only to see his handiwork smashed to pieces by Mad Malinga and his flailing axe of surrealism.
When Lasith arrived, Mumbai needed 54 runs in 4.4 overs, an Everest of a target. 4.3 overs later, the Chennai fielders were scattered like pigeons at a cat show and Malinga was leaning on his axe, a lumberjack surveying the stumpy remains of a once heavily wooded locale, having reached the summit a ball early. It was a cameo of chaos and it was all very silly indeed, which is why Twenty20 is so much fun.
Sunday, 25th September
After Friday’s South London show, it became apparent that spin was absolutely the thing and that pace bowling was so mid-September. So inevitably today’s get-together featured every known variety of the species. I had my Eye Spy Book Of Spinners out and was able to tick off a few lesser spotted dobblers, a long-legged googly and the extremely rare St Lucian Twirler, which earned me extra points.
Lots of spin means that red-blooded batsmen go big-hitting crazy, and so it proved. Swiping and lunging were very much in fashion in SE11, but the entertainment also included some slapstick goings-on mid-pitch as, in pursuit of a tiny total, England suffered a collective anxiety attack, running between the wickets with all the co-ordination and control of a bunch of squirrels let loose on the M25.
And on Spin Sunday, the big revs continued after the game, with England’s newest temporary captain showing a knack for truth massaging and reality bending that could easily land him a job with one of the major political parties.
“West Indies bowled and fielded well, but not well enough to bowl a team out for 88.”
So, Graeme, if it wasn’t West Indies who bowled you out for 88, whodunit? Aliens? The ghost of Jack Hobbs? Pigeons? Alas, he didn’t elaborate.
Tuesday, 27th September
I’m not an expert on bowling technique but according to Troy Cooley, Mitchell Johnson’s wrist is once again in the wrong position. It can’t be easy to have a wrist that keeps slipping into the wrong position. For instance, it must be particularly distracting when you’re trying to put your watch on. That he manages to hold down a place in the Australian side at all with such a disability is remarkable.
But Troy reckons he’ll be fine in South Africa. And why? Because there are approximately 33% fewer Test matches than there should be, and so 33% fewer “bad radar” days for Mitch. And why are there only two Tests? Because Test cricket is so popular that CSA are worried it is overshadowing the limited-overs version, and so they have shrunk the Test series for the good of the game. Probably.
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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