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Thursday, 15th December Ouch! I’ve never faced Steyn and Philander on a green wicket but I imagine it’s not the most congenial way to spend a Thursday afternoon. After an hour or two of watching hard leathery ball smack repeatedly into Sri Lankan rib cage I was starting to wince, and I’m 3000 miles away. I expect tomorrow I’ll wake up covered in sympathy bruises with an overactive duck reflex.
Still, I do think it’s time for Sri Lankan cricket to have a rethink. In this day and age, you simply can’t expect unpaid amateurs to hold their own against professionals.
Friday, 16th December I haven’t yet been able to find a place to watch the Big Bash League so I don’t know what the opening ceremony was like. I’m guessing cheerleaders, fireworks, enormous papier mâché Richie Benaud heads parading around the outfield on stilts, a hologram of Donald Bradman giving the whole thing his blessing and James Sutherland wearing an Australian flag skydiving onto the pitch from a Martian spacecraft.
The usual kind of stuff.
I did manage to find highlights of the game on the tournament website, although I was a little disappointed to find that the entire three-hour experience had been boiled down to 2:58 minutes. And then my teeth began to itch as I was forced to watch two excessively hair-gelled presenters throwing away 25 seconds of valuable highlight time by giving us a précis of the already edited action.
And what did we see through this tiny window on BBL World?
Well, I saw Brett Lee looking mean, followed by Brendon McCullum bleeding casually in that manly way that men who can’t see themselves bleeding can pull off. Had the physio brought out a mirror along with his sponge, I reckon Brendon would have been swooning onto the turf faster than a Victorian lady who has just found out that her daughter is eloping with the chimney-sweep.
I saw grey-haired Stuart MacGill roaring like a whiskery old lion who has just outrun all the younger cubs in the pride to haul down a wildebeest (although to be honest, Matthew was straggling badly at the back of the herd and is a bit long in the hoof these days.) I saw some evil-looking slogs that were so scandalously wrong I had to pop into church for extra confession afterwards.
And I was pleased to note a raising of the quality bar from the men in the booth. One commentator specified that a particular six had gone straight into row 15. Not 14 or 16, you’ll note, but 15. That’s precision commentary and a challenge to Mr Shastri, who can’t be bothered to count the rows but instead tries to convince us of the existence of a mythical “Row Z”.
So to summarise: bleeding, slogging, sixes and oldies. Not a bad 2:35 minutes worth of entertainment. Keep it up, Mr Sutherland and I might even be persuaded to buy a Perth Scorchers tea cosy. (“Keeps your teapot Scorching hot!”)
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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