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Wednesday, 22nd February Stung by accusations that they have been a tad complacent in light of their team’s somewhat less than triumphant excursion to the Antipodes, the BCCI has today announced a wide-ranging review. Entitled “What We Did on Our Holidays”, it will be headed by an experienced playground supervisor and will aim to get to the bottom of a number of key concerns raised by players, specifically:
1. The X-Box rotation policy limiting senior players to half an hour each 2. The way Ishant always has the volume of his iPod too high on the bus 3. Gautam’s reluctance to change his socks 4. Praveen’s annoying habit of slurping his tea 5. Viru’s refusal to sit in the front row at team meetings if Mahi is there 6. The amount of time Virat spends in the bathroom
The review will be complete by the time the players land in Delhi and is expected to conclude that after ten weeks of being cooped up in the same coaches, dressing rooms and hotel lifts it would be in the best interests of Indian cricket and the sanity of all concerned if they spent some quality time as far away from each other as possible.
Thursday, 23rd February England’s fast bowlers may look like nice young men who spend their spare time helping elderly ladies across busy roads and retrieving kittens from high branches, but sometimes they can be grumpier than Bob Willis at a Justin Bieber concert. Today it was Steven Finn who was wearing the angry trousers, heaping abuse on a slightly nonplussed Awais Zia, both before and after he took Zia’s wicket.
To the untrained eye, this carry-on might appear to be the petulance of a schoolboy who can’t cope when things don’t go his way. But Steven is 22, so that couldn’t be it. So what was his problem? Had his ECB underpants shrunk in the wash? Were his bunions playing up? Had he overdosed on the Daily Mail? And then I worked it out. Like me, he must have sat through Sky’s pre-match unpleasantries.
We all know the drill. Every viewer must pass through an initiation ceremony, an ordeal of inanity, in order to get to the thing for which they’ve paid. Today’s theme was KP’s confidence. First the chaps in Dubai informed us that he’d be full of it. They handed back to the studio, whereupon Ian Ward asked his first guest if KP would really be full of confidence. Yes, said Rob Key, Kevin would be full of confidence.
But Ward was leaving nothing to chance and brought in Robert Croft for the Celtic angle on Pietersen’s confidence. He concluded that KP would be full of confidence. At least I think he did. Croftie has a troubled relationship with vowels and his strenuous attempts to elucidate his opinions produced the kind of jaw arrangements you might associate with a snake trying unsuccessfully to regurgitate a mouse.
It went on. A quantam of waffle from Nasser Hussain; a light shower of drivel from David Lloyd and Aamer Sohail, including an anecdote about Lloyd having to borrow a tie*; adverts for deodorant, banks and cars; and an exchange of platitudes with a bored-looking Craig Kieswetter wearing a bored-looking baseball cap. After several minutes of this, my nerves were frayed, my mute button broken and my porcelain tea service in peril. No wonder Steven was so cross. Had I been expected to go out and play cricket after that, I might not have been able to restrain myself either.
*Turns out he didn’t have a tie so he had to borrow one
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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. Providing his ransom demands continue to be met, he has promised never to write a whimsical book about village cricket. @hughandrews73