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Saturday, 17th March
Well done to Sachin, but commiserations to ESPNcricinfo. Harsha Bhogle’s piece yesterday asking us to stop going on about Sachin being stuck on 99 centuries was the 99th item about Sachin’s 99 centuries to appear on ESPNcricinfo. On the verge of bringing up a century of century-articles, we’ve been left stranded.
There is the possibility of a century of century-celebratory features, towards which these paragraphs might count as a scrambled single. But it’s a tough ask and I think the gathering bad light of reader intolerance might call time on our word chase.
Over the long months of our vigil, the ranks of the Sachin-century spotters had dwindled somewhat. The eager crowds who had at first gathered to see the lesser spotted century bird make its appearance grew bored of staring at a scoreboard waiting for something to happen, and one by one wandered off to find ice creams, jobs, dye their hair, marry, divorce, emigrate, spend some time finding themselves in a Thai monastery, and generally get on with their lives.
So when those three cheeky little digits popped on the scoreboard at the Shere Bangla Stadium, it crept up on us, it was a pleasant surprise, although it wasn’t that pleasant for the Bangladeshi players nor was it much of a surprise, as he’d done it to them five times before. We suspect that they didn’t really mind, though, because they won the game anyway. It was a win-win kind of a win.
But that really has to be the end of it. By now many cricket lovers have developed an angry Pavlovian response to sentences built around the words “Tendulkar” and “century”. So I won’t mention it again. Though I should just let you know, purely for your personal reference, that Sachin is currently poised on 195 one-day international sixes and only needs another five Test wickets to bring up his 50…
Monday, 19th March For a lot of teams, a warm-up game is a relaxing potter around some picturesque provincial field/godforsaken suburban dump; a break from being photographed standing next to architecture, complaining about room service, and trying to identify your socks amongst the hotel laundry. But Team England tend to take everything too seriously and now it seems they’re trying to put the war into warm-up.
As we know, being generally unpleasant and obnoxious on the field of play is a vital part of the modern game. At the moment, Andy Flower’s Angry Boys lead the way in the shouty arts, and so a fixture against a Sri Lanka Board XI was the perfect chance for them to hit their moaning straps. After all, nothing prepares you for Test cricket quite like standing around swearing at someone.
When Dilruwan Perera refused to accept a fielder’s word about a catch and didn’t walk, the England players converged on the offending batsmen in a scrum of arm-waving, pouty indignation. You might think this was just a silly overreaction but I have a weary feeling that Team England will see it as the choicest drop of cream at the very tip of the pedigree cat’s whiskers, and that we are only at the start of several very trying weeks of whingeing, tantrums, foot-stamping and Stuart Broad’s lower lip going all quivery when yet another DRS review request is turned down.
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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