ICC World Twenty20 September 26, 2012

Don't believe the invisible leprechauns

Or, a deep and meaningful analysis of England's shambolic collapse against India
50

Cricketers may not fiddle their expenses, wreck the economy, declare illegal wars, issue fatwas or desperately seek to ingratiate themselves with the general public, but in some ways they are just like politicians. Firstly, when they retire they can't wait to inflict their tedious memoirs on us. And secondly, just like our elected representatives, they sometimes have to adopt a flexible attitude towards reality.

Shortly after Sunday's carnival of calamity had concluded, Nasser Hussain asked whether England might possibly have a teensy bit of a problem with spin bowling. Stuart Broad, wearing a straight face, replied in the negative. He may or may not have had his fingers crossed behind his back at the time. And the member for Nottingham was still wearing the rosy spectacles at the post-match excuse-fest:

"We still hop on a bus to Kandy in the morning. It is not like tomorrow is going to be a different day. It's not as if we have to go home or anything."

It's true. ICC lawyers have been scrutinising the fine print of the World Twenty20 playing regulations, but sadly it seems that there is no ineptitude clause. Unless they do something really silly, like setting fire to Dave Richardson's beach hut, or staging a savagely satirical play about one of the world's major religions, England will be in Sri Lanka for three more batting collapses.

Still, those encores will have to be something special to top the weekend's ripe entertainment. It was Alex Hales who set the tone, playing a lovely little check-slog-waft-miss with which he appeared to have vague, unrealistic ambitions of doing something in the direction of midwicket. As the wood clattered behind him, he held the pose. There you go, he seemed to be saying, that's how you get bowled.

Perhaps it's unfair, but I've always regarded Luke Wright as a bit of an impostor, and when I saw him trot out at first wicket down, he reminded me of that certain type of actor: rubbish in almost every film he's ever been in, but keeps getting work. Well, on Sunday, the Hugh Grant of international cricket was playing the role of Kevin Pietersen, and Nasser, impartial as ever, wanted to give him a big build-up.

"Here he comes," boomed Nass, "The man who was brilliant against Afghanistan."

Not that being brilliant against Afghanistan is a bad thing, but it isn't as good, say, as being relatively competent against New Zealand. Four balls later, the man who was brilliant against Afghanistan assayed a swipe so ugly that the statue of Don Bradman outside Adelaide Oval was seen to weep. I gather that "Lukewright Style", a video clip of a man dressed in garish clothing hopping about haplessly, has since gone viral.

England's best Irish-born player of spin was up next but like many of his colleagues was intent on applying the horizontal rather than the vertical. He put his left foot in, took his left foot out, and then swung furiously at a straight one with the desperate air of a man trying to dissuade a wasp from landing on his lap. There then followed a hoick from Bairstow, a swipe from Kieswetter, and a cheeky little nine iron from Bresnan.

Jos Buttler is young and still has much to learn. He believed what the invisible leprechaun whispered in his ear about the wickets having been taken down into the fairy kingdom for safekeeping and that it didn't matter if he just stepped back and had a swing. The particular lesson Buttler should take from this game is never to listen to invisible leprechauns when you're 54 for 6 in an international T20 game, because invisible leprechauns are terrible liars.

And then it was Swann's turn.

"He will swing his bat, he won't hang around," said Harsha, who, as ever, was entirely correct. Swann offered a shuffling little gentleman's excuse-me, an apologetic wave of the willow, and, as predicted, didn't hang around. Ten wickets in 89 balls, an hour-long exhibition of high comedy, and as a bonus, the relaunching of Bhajji's career, although he rather ungraciously chose to thank God, who as far as I can tell had very little to do with it.

Andrew Hughes is a writer currently based in England

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • abhijith l m on October 1, 2012, 7:10 GMT

    good one :)

  • lan on September 27, 2012, 4:59 GMT

    this is bloody brilliant!!

  • Si on September 27, 2012, 3:28 GMT

    I think if Nasser wants to use the words; brilliant and Afghanistan, in the same sentence again, he'd be better suited to a doco on the SAS' forward defence to projectiles lobbed at them IN Afghanistan. Other than that - Broad, Wright, Kieswetter, Bresnan and a sub-continental capitulation to spin, both at the crease and in the press conference - Yep, business as usual for the three lions! As for the rubbish actor, if memory serves me right, his capitulation to spin was in an LA press conference a decade or so ago, wasn't it?

  • Kamesh Rao on September 27, 2012, 3:03 GMT

    Brilliantly funny, a little savage perhaps and maybe the English batsmen will make amends and prove Andrew wrong about this comment in particular - "..England will be in Sri Lanka for three more batting collapses". I havent enjoyed a piece on Cricket as much as this... So Hat's off to you Andrew, you won yourself a fan today.

  • Omar on September 27, 2012, 1:24 GMT

    "The Hugh Grant of cricket", "Invisible Leprechauns" ...!!! Andrew, I really enjoy your articles and look forward to them and this is indeed one of the finer ones, right up there with the KP and IPL classics (I still laugh at the description of Shahrukh Khan's excitement at his team winning the IPL championship).

  • tonyp on September 27, 2012, 0:22 GMT

    I have a theory that the English team read your blog and are anxious to provide you with especially good material. I for one am grateful for their selflessness.

    I'm a bit surprised that the sentence "It's not like tomorrow is going to be a different day" didn't come under closer scrutiny. I thought the whole point of tomorrow is that it will be a different day. If it isn't I have an appointment with a bookie.

  • Kumar on September 27, 2012, 0:06 GMT

    rotflol

  • Ali Farooqui on September 26, 2012, 22:43 GMT

    ouch! that was viciously sarcastic but understandable after Broad's nonchalant response in post match conference

  • Nanda on September 26, 2012, 22:43 GMT

    Haa, haaa, I couldn't stop laughing after i read the last sentence. great work.

  • Sagir Parkar on September 26, 2012, 21:46 GMT

    good one Andrew.. nicely summed up.. it was more a case of hara kiri by England rather than India being brilliant in the field.. i bet the other teams are now sharpening their spinning fingers..

  • abhijith l m on October 1, 2012, 7:10 GMT

    good one :)

  • lan on September 27, 2012, 4:59 GMT

    this is bloody brilliant!!

  • Si on September 27, 2012, 3:28 GMT

    I think if Nasser wants to use the words; brilliant and Afghanistan, in the same sentence again, he'd be better suited to a doco on the SAS' forward defence to projectiles lobbed at them IN Afghanistan. Other than that - Broad, Wright, Kieswetter, Bresnan and a sub-continental capitulation to spin, both at the crease and in the press conference - Yep, business as usual for the three lions! As for the rubbish actor, if memory serves me right, his capitulation to spin was in an LA press conference a decade or so ago, wasn't it?

  • Kamesh Rao on September 27, 2012, 3:03 GMT

    Brilliantly funny, a little savage perhaps and maybe the English batsmen will make amends and prove Andrew wrong about this comment in particular - "..England will be in Sri Lanka for three more batting collapses". I havent enjoyed a piece on Cricket as much as this... So Hat's off to you Andrew, you won yourself a fan today.

  • Omar on September 27, 2012, 1:24 GMT

    "The Hugh Grant of cricket", "Invisible Leprechauns" ...!!! Andrew, I really enjoy your articles and look forward to them and this is indeed one of the finer ones, right up there with the KP and IPL classics (I still laugh at the description of Shahrukh Khan's excitement at his team winning the IPL championship).

  • tonyp on September 27, 2012, 0:22 GMT

    I have a theory that the English team read your blog and are anxious to provide you with especially good material. I for one am grateful for their selflessness.

    I'm a bit surprised that the sentence "It's not like tomorrow is going to be a different day" didn't come under closer scrutiny. I thought the whole point of tomorrow is that it will be a different day. If it isn't I have an appointment with a bookie.

  • Kumar on September 27, 2012, 0:06 GMT

    rotflol

  • Ali Farooqui on September 26, 2012, 22:43 GMT

    ouch! that was viciously sarcastic but understandable after Broad's nonchalant response in post match conference

  • Nanda on September 26, 2012, 22:43 GMT

    Haa, haaa, I couldn't stop laughing after i read the last sentence. great work.

  • Sagir Parkar on September 26, 2012, 21:46 GMT

    good one Andrew.. nicely summed up.. it was more a case of hara kiri by England rather than India being brilliant in the field.. i bet the other teams are now sharpening their spinning fingers..

  • Niceone! on September 26, 2012, 21:03 GMT

    Well written! The last sentence and invisible Leprechauns was just hilarious. Keep it up!

  • Ben on September 26, 2012, 20:53 GMT

    The best i've read so far this year

  • Rohit Sen on September 26, 2012, 20:46 GMT

    Awesome... Absolutely loved it. Very well written... Never a dull passage ;)

  • al minidodo on September 26, 2012, 20:45 GMT

    Hugh Grant is rubbish as an actor ? He cuddled to Ms Hurley, the toast of the 20th century, in her prime and got away with cheating (I mean if you were to make a bet in 1990 on who would cheat whom in that particular couple, where were you gonna put your money?). Finally parted ways amicably, without getting into the marriage/divorce/name-calling/custody-battle/rehab nonsense.... pretty much the best act by a male homo-sapien ever!

  • Anwar Mogal on September 26, 2012, 20:35 GMT

    Brilliant, ROFL!

  • Pranav on September 26, 2012, 20:10 GMT

    "“He will swing his bat, he won’t hang around,” said Harsha, who, as ever, was entirely correct. Swann offered a shuffling little gentleman’s excuse-me, an apologetic wave of the willow, and, as predicted, didn’t hang around."

    The best..

  • crazy.mechanic on September 26, 2012, 19:34 GMT

    Good one! About England's debacle..I think it has more to do with the attitude than anything else. If u have a will to fight and more than that if u decrease the amount of self-arrogance within,u can actually plough a path that will lead u to success. Their ranking seems a bit hokum and their claim of being the best side in the world, well we have seen it!

  • mashood on September 26, 2012, 18:32 GMT

    lol, absolutely hilarious! and very suitably bitter, that was the worst display of how to play spin bowling I have ever seen, including gully cricket

  • adeel on September 26, 2012, 18:27 GMT

    Very nice piece

  • Shriman on September 26, 2012, 18:22 GMT

    'Carnival Of Calamity': I should remember that!! Nice work Mr. Hughes.

  • Vishnu Viswam on September 26, 2012, 17:41 GMT

    Oh...Andrew, You are just amazing.

    Well, on Sunday, the Hugh Grant of international cricket was playing the role of Kevin Pietersen, and Nasser, impartial as ever, wanted to give him a big build-up.ROFL.............

    But u always seem to be so partial for your countrymen. Come on Andrew, Target the Indians and the big West Indians. You wont offend anybody out there. After all there is nothing in cricinfo that says the story better than you. Hats off...You have been just amazing.

  • Giriraj on September 26, 2012, 17:22 GMT

    very funny article as always the standout parts were that of hugh grant and swanny at the end surprised no KP though

  • Olly Horne on September 26, 2012, 17:19 GMT

    'There you go, that's how you get bowled'. Got the giggles over that, funny article.

  • Anonymous on September 26, 2012, 16:39 GMT

    lol!! you always deliver the goods sir !! you are the best writer on page 2

  • HotShot on September 26, 2012, 16:02 GMT

    A wonderful piece. I will endorse it - Don’t believe the invisible leprechauns.

  • Unmesh on September 26, 2012, 15:40 GMT

    That Jos Buttler and Swann bit was just hilarious. Bhajji was indeed ungracious while accepting the Man-of-the-Match award. He thanked everybody else in the world, but forgot to thank the English batsmen :-).

  • P.R on September 26, 2012, 15:22 GMT

    The comedic timing and the words you choose are quite exquisite. I love your articles.

  • aparkishor on September 26, 2012, 15:15 GMT

    Hilarious!!!

  • JP on September 26, 2012, 14:49 GMT

    This is Andrew probably at his satirical best. Invisible leprechauns! indeed! While I had a good laugh reading this and enjoyed India's victory, I do hope for England's (and this tournament's) sake, they do not have three more batting collapses as Andrew predicts.

  • Tejnarine Geer on September 26, 2012, 14:29 GMT

    Totally hilarious. The rest of my day just got better. Thank you very much.

  • Pankaj on September 26, 2012, 14:14 GMT

    Not very convincing-your argument.

    When the batsmen shaped up to play for spin, the ball did not turn but went straight ahead ,and you want us to believe there were no leprechauns ( even with those six wooden nails stuck in the middle of the of the field- three on each side !! with an all seeing eye in the middle one ??) .

  • Stateside_Steve on September 26, 2012, 14:08 GMT

    Great one Andy, you went for a home run in every line and pulled it off successfully.

    Nasser, impartial as ever, wanted to give him a big build-up.

    “Here he comes,” boomed Nass, “The man who was brilliant against Afghanistan.”

    Takes the cake.

  • Vinay on September 26, 2012, 13:58 GMT

    This is class work sir! Bresnan's 9 iron chip and comparisions with Hugh Grant are priceless. You made me realize how young (read: immature) this team is and led by a guy who is no where close to Collingwood's class or leadership.

  • Sunil Jambekar on September 26, 2012, 13:14 GMT

    This was really Hilarious. I did not get to see the match, but can imagine every English Wicket falling from the article.

    Andrew .... how about a career in Commentary. You will do a great job .... Much better than Pommie Mbangwa and some of the Sri Lankan/pakistani Commies.

    Really enjoyed :-)

  • Rishabh on September 26, 2012, 12:25 GMT

    Hilarious article as always! While watching Sunday's match, what struck me was that the English team can be so much like the Indian one - they can make foreign conditions look so spectacularly hostile that it defies one's imagination.

  • Ranga Raghavan on September 26, 2012, 12:19 GMT

    Brilliant Andrew...reading this and trying hard not to burst out laughing!!!

  • Gaurav on September 26, 2012, 11:24 GMT

    "Ten wickets in 89 balls, an hour-long exhibition of high comedy, and as a bonus, the relaunching of Bhajji’s career, although he rather ungraciously chose to thank God, who as far as I can tell had very little to do with it. "- That my friend, was priceless...:-)

  • R.Kannan on September 26, 2012, 11:05 GMT

    ICC's lawyer should be more worried about cricket fans suing them for creating such a wrong format that the Super Eight has 4 strong teams in one pool and 4 weak teams in the second pool. Add the scheduling in the middle of rainy season and you can have England getting all out for less than 80 and still qualifying for the semi finals.

  • Opener on September 26, 2012, 10:47 GMT

    Luverly!

  • Vinay Malani on September 26, 2012, 9:47 GMT

    Hahahahahhahha the bit about 'Lukewright Style' is absolutely brilliant , thank you Mr. Hughes , this is the best thing to have come out of the drab WT20 so far.

  • KK on September 26, 2012, 8:49 GMT

    Too good! I don't usually read full article ever but this was different. Keep it up Andrew!

  • Kailash Mathur on September 26, 2012, 8:13 GMT

    It is brilliantly written and it does not bother us with all the statistics which Zaltzmann uses to confuse us.

  • Kumar on September 26, 2012, 8:05 GMT

    I think, you missed the part where this could be a plot of machavelian proportion by Flower and Co, to bring back Bhaji in to the playing 11 of the Indian team, so that England can smite him all around the park, in the next round when it matters. Otherwise, an article full of humour, well done.

    Regards, Kumar

  • Yogesh on September 26, 2012, 7:53 GMT

    Very well written.. :)

  • PS on September 26, 2012, 7:39 GMT

    Awesome! Hilarious! Nothing Hugh Grant about this article..

  • Karthik A.Bhatt on September 26, 2012, 7:32 GMT

    "Four balls later, the man who was brilliant against Afghanistan assayed a swipe so ugly that the statue of Don Bradman outside Adelaide Oval was seen to weep"..EPIC!! ROTFL!!

  • Anonymous on September 26, 2012, 7:24 GMT

    Fabulous...loved it.

  • Neeraj on September 26, 2012, 7:10 GMT

    Great work Andrew. Hope that the English batsmen will give you more such oppurtunities to showcase you talent during the upcoming Test series in India. Am sure you can play better than these leprechaun listening batters

  • mahesh on September 26, 2012, 7:09 GMT

    You keep writing similar things as England will be touring India for a full series

  • Manohar on September 26, 2012, 4:40 GMT

    Was waiting for this eagerly ever since the match. Boy was I not disappointed. Andrew is at his satirical best when he writes about England. I wish he does the same with India.

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  • Manohar on September 26, 2012, 4:40 GMT

    Was waiting for this eagerly ever since the match. Boy was I not disappointed. Andrew is at his satirical best when he writes about England. I wish he does the same with India.

  • mahesh on September 26, 2012, 7:09 GMT

    You keep writing similar things as England will be touring India for a full series

  • Neeraj on September 26, 2012, 7:10 GMT

    Great work Andrew. Hope that the English batsmen will give you more such oppurtunities to showcase you talent during the upcoming Test series in India. Am sure you can play better than these leprechaun listening batters

  • Anonymous on September 26, 2012, 7:24 GMT

    Fabulous...loved it.

  • Karthik A.Bhatt on September 26, 2012, 7:32 GMT

    "Four balls later, the man who was brilliant against Afghanistan assayed a swipe so ugly that the statue of Don Bradman outside Adelaide Oval was seen to weep"..EPIC!! ROTFL!!

  • PS on September 26, 2012, 7:39 GMT

    Awesome! Hilarious! Nothing Hugh Grant about this article..

  • Yogesh on September 26, 2012, 7:53 GMT

    Very well written.. :)

  • Kumar on September 26, 2012, 8:05 GMT

    I think, you missed the part where this could be a plot of machavelian proportion by Flower and Co, to bring back Bhaji in to the playing 11 of the Indian team, so that England can smite him all around the park, in the next round when it matters. Otherwise, an article full of humour, well done.

    Regards, Kumar

  • Kailash Mathur on September 26, 2012, 8:13 GMT

    It is brilliantly written and it does not bother us with all the statistics which Zaltzmann uses to confuse us.

  • KK on September 26, 2012, 8:49 GMT

    Too good! I don't usually read full article ever but this was different. Keep it up Andrew!