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Saturday, 18th February Opinions, like socks, are commonplace and most people have several, though they can’t always remember where they got them from. It is also the mark of the civilised individual that they change them regularly, and so this weekend, English cricket journalists have been proudly displaying some freshly laundered ones.
Throughout 2011 they were agreed that England had not the faintest notion of an inkling of a clue as to how to tackle the 50-over stuff but that their ineptitude was not really a big deal because Test cricket is where it’s at, the World Cup is just a big yawn, and no one cares about a format that is all a little bit 1980s.
However, in the light of England’s recent series victory and dramatic rise up the rankings from mid-table to upper mid-table, the desert-bound hacks, suffering perhaps from a cocktail of sand exhaustion and golf fatigue, are spinning us a line about the importance of the 50-over game and England’s building for 2015.
It seems to have slipped their memory that the chaps from Blighty have rather cornered the market in false dawns over the years. It might be wise for journalists not to rush to the window claiming that they can see the sun rising on England’s new 50-over empire simply because Cook and chums have won three games in a row.
For instance, the last time England stood poised on the brink of a one-day series whitewash was in 2008, against South Africa. Did this herald:
a) the inexorable rise of England’s 50-over fortunes, culminating in top spot in the one-day rankings and a World Cup final appearance?
b) absolutely nothing?
You may already know the answer, but if you need a clue, it wasn’t a). It never is.
I have an alternative theory, which I’ve named the Quantity Theory Of Victory. The theory states that there is only so much victory that a normal team can absorb before they experience what is known as Victory Fatigue and reach a state of Can’t Be Botheredness. Pakistan, having reached their maximum level of victory in the Test series, were scientifically incapable of winning the succeeding tournament.
We’ve seen this before. How often does one team win the Test series only to see their flattened opponents struggle to their feet and triumph in the one-day arena? If I were a diligent writer, I would investigate how often. Since, however, I am lazier than an elderly cat after a heavy meal on a sunny afternoon, I have not done this. But having thought about it for a bit, I believe the answer to be “quite often”.
Tuesday, 21st February A few days back, Giles Clarke, ever watchful guardian of all that is sacred and profitable in our great game, announced that the ECB’s crack team of cyber police (David Collier’s nephew and his friends from the IT club) would be scouring the virtual seas of the interweb in search of naughty pirates with their illegal feeds and dangerously unregulated streams. At least I think that’s what he said.
Well, it seems that the ECB are now opening up a new front in their ongoing struggle to prevent cricket fans from getting access to cricket. Their top-secret listening station in St John’s Wood will be “monitoring” Test Match Sofa, and no doubt the people involved will find suspicious-looking ECB operatives in leather overcoats following them when they pop out to the newsagent for cigarettes and moisturising wipes.
I’ve listened to Test Match Sofa and whilst it isn’t really my cup of Earl Grey, it does have at least two things going for it. Firstly, it annoys the ECB. Secondly, it does not, at least as far as I can tell, feature Michael Vaughan, his accent or any of his golf anecdotes. These are good things and give it a big advantage over the other TMS. Besides, Giles, I’m no businessman, but I thought competition was a good thing?
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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