England September 15, 2012

Getting Freddie a new hobby

But will it be enough to shut him up? Probably not

Sometimes when watching the news you can become a little pessimistic about the future of the human race. Coming up with new ways to be angry with one another seems to be the only thing we're any good at. That, and selling stuff.

And then you read a story that restores your faith in humanity. Take a bow homo sapiens. We've just invented an automatic bat-seasoning machine.

I haven't seen it in action but I imagine it to be an enormous puffing fairground contraption, featuring a cricket ball on a string whizzing around at the speed of Steyn, smashing repeatedly into a whirring carousel of virgin willow, to the tune of a steam-powered pipe organ version of Soul Limbo. Who wouldn't want to watch that? They should bring it along to liven up the tea interval at Test matches.

And I hope the people who brought us the automatic bat-seasoning machine are not going to stop there. How about an automatic glove-wearing-in device? We all know what it's like to pull on a pair of shiny new batting gloves that are more dazzling than Tom Cruise's teeth and so creaky you feel like an abominable snowman with arthritis when you try to grip the bat.

So how to get that "worn all summer and left to fester in cricket bag over the winter" look? First, the gloves could be hung from a clothes line moving slowly through a greenhouse designed to accurately recreate the climate of the Amazon rainforest. Then the dripping mitts could be dunked (and readers who have just had their breakfast might want to skip ahead a couple of paragraphs) in a vat of sweat.

The standard service would involve ordinary sweat, perhaps the excretions of nervous politicians or Wall Street traders, but for an extra fee, you could have your mitts marinated in Trott-juice or even (for platinum customers only) dunked in Tendulkar-essence. Your new gloves would arrive just as you like them: grubby, flexible and with their own unique unholy stench, so you don't have to break them in.

And while we're in the mood for cricket technology, what about a device to find new hobbies for Andrew Flintoff? All he has to do is punch a big red button and a random outdoor activity will be announced by a computer programmed to sound like David Lloyd.

"Ho ho, you'll love this one Fred. Today you're goin' kayaking backwards up the Nile whilst learning to play the bagpipes!"


"Morning Fred. Get yer gravity boots on son, you're off to play moon badminton!"

Flintoff, from what I can tell, is an extrovert, an unfortunate, but largely harmless species who need continual stimulation otherwise they become bored (in this respect, they are very much like puppies.) Freddie has plenty of money and plenty of free time, so sure, why not go naked hang-gliding or volcano abseiling or freestyle lumberjacking. It's a big planet and there's plenty of excitement to be had on it.

But I'm not sure it's excitement that Freddie wants.

"Mom, mom, look at me!" cries the child who's just mastered the tricky art of hanging upside down from a tree. But if no one's looking, it's not quite the same. So Freddie can't just take up boxing. He has to be filmed taking up boxing, for a two-part documentary.

"I have a long road ahead and a lot of work in front of me. The stakes are high."

They aren't that high though really, are they? Win or lose, you'll still get a documentary out of it. And, to be honest, why would I want to watch Freddie boxing badly when I could turn over and watch proper boxers boxing properly? Equally, why would I want to listen to Andrew Strauss' views on the European Single Currency or watch Michael Vaughan dance? Take the "cricket" out of "famous cricketer" and what have you got left?

Andrew Hughes is a writer currently based in England

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • testli5504537 on September 19, 2012, 9:16 GMT

    Thanks everyone for your comments.

    Ankur and Martin have a point. If you take the cricket out of famous cricketer, technically, you are left with 'famous er' with the 'er' indicating some doubt as to why the person concerned was famous. But if you remove the cricket and bring the 'famous' and the 'er' together you do indeed get 'famouser' which on reflection I rather like as a word, although it makes no sense whatsoever.

    Sri, I'd be hopeless at caption writing. The editorial staff at Cricinfo deserve your congratulations for the captions that appear here.

  • testli5504537 on September 16, 2012, 14:47 GMT

    wth did i just read...

  • testli5504537 on September 16, 2012, 6:27 GMT

    Perhaps you wouldn't mind lending your voice Andrew,instead of David......you seem to know just the right things for occupying Flintoff's time!

  • testli5504537 on September 16, 2012, 6:12 GMT

    you have begun making sense andrew.......what hobby led to this?

  • testli5504537 on September 16, 2012, 3:48 GMT

    Take the “cricket” out of “famous cricketer” and what have you got left?

    Famouser ? Does that mean more famous?

  • testli5504537 on September 16, 2012, 1:42 GMT

    Famouser? Famouser than what?

  • testli5504537 on September 15, 2012, 21:48 GMT

    Cracking stuff, Andrew. Absolutely loved the bit about extroverts.

  • testli5504537 on September 15, 2012, 20:25 GMT

    In a nutshell, there is nothing that Andrew Flintoff will not sell out for.

  • testli5504537 on September 15, 2012, 18:11 GMT

    Is andrew hughes allowed to participate in the caption contest? If he were, he'd be sweeping the prize every single time..

  • testli5504537 on September 15, 2012, 16:04 GMT

    how strange and funny also that is where cricket and where boxing

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