November 14, 2012

A rich tapesty of bovine excrement

We all enjoyed reading Australia's top secret scrapbook of the self-evident, but as we work our way through Dermot Reeve's Psychological Warfare For Beginners , this week we've reached chapter two
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We all enjoyed reading Australia's top secret scrapbook of the self-evident, but as we work our way through Dermot Reeve's Psychological Warfare For Beginners, this week we've reached chapter two, entitled, "My Other Ball's A Teesra..."

Ravichandran Ashwin is threatening England with a new delivery, in the same way that you might taunt a frightened chicken with a packet of sage and onion stuffing. And why not. If you were about to enjoy a whole series worth of bowling at a succession of jittery-looking Englishman-shaped jellies, wouldn't you want to have a little fun with them first?

For Ashwin knows that he casteth his magic beans of fear on a particularly fertile psychological vegetable patch. Just as thespians are not supposed to mention the Scottish play, so the words "slow" and "bowler" have been banned from English net sessions. When England's reserve buttock masseur turned up to the team Halloween party wearing a Saeed Ajmal mask, he was sent home for making Ian Bell cry.

Ashwin isn't the first spinner to try this angle. The tactic dates back to the Bronze Age, when Goliath was so psyched out by an interview David gave to Hebrew Stone Flinger Monthly, in which the little fella talked about a new way of propelling a stone that the world had never seen, that the big Philistine was a nervous wreck by the day of the big match, whereupon he was felled by a straightforward old-fashioned clockwise-swung forehand.

How does it work? Well, with apologies to Sir Humphrey Appleby, it goes something like this. England know that Ashwin probably hasn't got a new delivery. Ashwin probably knows that they probably know that he probably hasn't. But even though they probably certainly know that he certainly hasn't and he probably certainly knows that they probably know that he certainly hasn't, they don't know for certain that there's no probability that he certainly has.

It's all part of the rich tapestry of bovine excrement that forms the backdrop to our great game, and Ashwin deserves a small ripple of polite applause for his efforts, even though it's as superfluous as a contestant in a Shooting Fish in a Barrel competition bragging that he's recently added a night sight to his machine gun. He's playing England, so even if he has a new delivery, which he hasn't, he won't need it.

For their part, the English batsmen have been working on a four-point strategy to address their embarrassing weakness, in order not to look too silly when the spinners come on:

1. Try to dominate the spinner by coming down the pitch early, possibly before he's started his run-up, and glaring at him from five yards away.

2. Put the spinner off by performing a wobbly-kneed dance, a la Bruce Grobbelaar in the 1984 European Cup Final.

3. Sweep, sweep and sweep again. Sweep for your life. Sweep like a Victorian urchin halfway up a chimney, like Cinderella with half an hour, a party to get to and a kitchen to clean.

4. Close your eyes, say three Hail Gattings, have a swing, and hope for the best.

Andrew Hughes is a writer currently based in England

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Dan on November 20, 2012, 19:22 GMT

    you just missed that important fact that the David and Goliath story is set in the Iron Age, not the Bronze...

  • Vinod on November 17, 2012, 10:02 GMT

    Hilarious Andrew, one of the best uve ever written. The imitation of Sir Humphrey and England's tactics against spin were LOL funny. Looking forward to more of the same

  • Omar on November 16, 2012, 14:56 GMT

    Wonderful, particularly England's strategy against spin!!! Still have tears in my eyes.

  • Mrs Doyle on November 15, 2012, 20:44 GMT

    Phil said it all really......ah, except the new word you introduced us to, you are a clever old Hector Mr Hughes....

  • Azfar on November 15, 2012, 19:22 GMT

    Hahahaha. Hilarious read. Thanks for the laughs Mr Hughes :).

  • Sundar on November 15, 2012, 5:29 GMT

    LOL... sure England major weakness is their mindset... ROFL for your 4 point strategy...

  • Sam on November 15, 2012, 1:27 GMT

    This almost made me cry: "...England’s reserve buttock masseur turned up to the team Halloween party wearing a Saeed Ajmal mask, he was sent home for making Ian Bell cry..."

  • Jerry on November 15, 2012, 1:15 GMT

    Simply outstanding - it's rare I meet a sports writer who is funnier than I am, but you might well be that person.

  • Gautam on November 14, 2012, 21:18 GMT

    Hilarious! The gags just kept coming!! Looking forward to more from you.

  • Unmesh on November 14, 2012, 20:49 GMT

    If I am not mistaken, I think the word in the title should be "tapestry" ('r' missing in the spelling). A very amusing article though, especially England's four-point strategy against spin. Although it is meant to be funny, the 3rd point (sweep, sweep and sweep again) is England's actual plan against spin bowling. In a recent interview, Murali Kartik said that England batsmen don't mind getting out trying to sweep! They prefer this mode of dismissal than coming down the track and getting stumped. Apparently, getting out to a sweep shot is less embarrassing than getting stumped. I have a 5th point which would actually help England: 5. Select Mike Gatting in playing 11.

  • Dan on November 20, 2012, 19:22 GMT

    you just missed that important fact that the David and Goliath story is set in the Iron Age, not the Bronze...

  • Vinod on November 17, 2012, 10:02 GMT

    Hilarious Andrew, one of the best uve ever written. The imitation of Sir Humphrey and England's tactics against spin were LOL funny. Looking forward to more of the same

  • Omar on November 16, 2012, 14:56 GMT

    Wonderful, particularly England's strategy against spin!!! Still have tears in my eyes.

  • Mrs Doyle on November 15, 2012, 20:44 GMT

    Phil said it all really......ah, except the new word you introduced us to, you are a clever old Hector Mr Hughes....

  • Azfar on November 15, 2012, 19:22 GMT

    Hahahaha. Hilarious read. Thanks for the laughs Mr Hughes :).

  • Sundar on November 15, 2012, 5:29 GMT

    LOL... sure England major weakness is their mindset... ROFL for your 4 point strategy...

  • Sam on November 15, 2012, 1:27 GMT

    This almost made me cry: "...England’s reserve buttock masseur turned up to the team Halloween party wearing a Saeed Ajmal mask, he was sent home for making Ian Bell cry..."

  • Jerry on November 15, 2012, 1:15 GMT

    Simply outstanding - it's rare I meet a sports writer who is funnier than I am, but you might well be that person.

  • Gautam on November 14, 2012, 21:18 GMT

    Hilarious! The gags just kept coming!! Looking forward to more from you.

  • Unmesh on November 14, 2012, 20:49 GMT

    If I am not mistaken, I think the word in the title should be "tapestry" ('r' missing in the spelling). A very amusing article though, especially England's four-point strategy against spin. Although it is meant to be funny, the 3rd point (sweep, sweep and sweep again) is England's actual plan against spin bowling. In a recent interview, Murali Kartik said that England batsmen don't mind getting out trying to sweep! They prefer this mode of dismissal than coming down the track and getting stumped. Apparently, getting out to a sweep shot is less embarrassing than getting stumped. I have a 5th point which would actually help England: 5. Select Mike Gatting in playing 11.

  • Phil on November 14, 2012, 20:31 GMT

    Is there a Cricinfo law that to be pointedly funny, your first name must be Andrew or similar ? If Mr Hughes continues in this form, he'll be usurping Mr Zaltzman's position as undisputed king of cricket whimsy. Brilliant, especially the Sir Humphrey Appleby bit ! For non-UK readers, it's a reference to a TV comedy series where Sir H A is a senior UK government bureaucrat who's always confusing and delaying the elected politicians by using 12 complex words where 1 simple word would do. Indian readers should empathise with this :-)

  • grizzle on November 14, 2012, 18:27 GMT

    Strategy point 1 is a classic! Dare say it will work with the Indian spinners though! :D

  • arun on November 14, 2012, 15:41 GMT

    OMG....funniest piece. David giving an interview to Hebrew Stoneflinger Monthly...absolutely hilarious..

  • sathya on November 14, 2012, 13:47 GMT

    excellent!!! really funny piece from andrew after a long time. Ian bell part was good

  • thinkmack on November 14, 2012, 11:51 GMT

    lol....nice one :)

  • vedprakash on November 14, 2012, 11:41 GMT

    I couldn't stop laughing. Better than a whole volume of PG Wodehouse

  • kriskingle on November 14, 2012, 11:35 GMT

    "like Cinderella with half an hour, a party to get to and a kitchen to clean. " This metaphor isn't you, Andrew. The rest is pure gold.

  • DirkL on November 14, 2012, 10:56 GMT

    Ha-ha! By some distance the funniest Page Two contribution in a long time!

  • Sam on November 14, 2012, 10:00 GMT

    You're just getting better at this.. :)

  • Pakman on November 14, 2012, 9:48 GMT

    'Bovine Excrement' - hilarious!!

  • Pakman on November 14, 2012, 9:47 GMT

    5. If sweeping is considered too predictable, then reverse it or better yet switch your stance and have a tonk. At least you can later claim, 'I got out because I got carried away, how rash of me. There's no way Ashwin could have gotten through my usual front foot defensive stroke.'

  • Harsh Lahiri on November 14, 2012, 9:10 GMT

    well well well, Andrew, what can i say?? You really are a funny chap. "But even though they probably certainly know that he certainly hasn’t and he probably certainly knows that they probably know that he certainly hasn’t, they don’t know for certain that there’s no probability that he certainly has." I cant stop laughing. And your guide fro england to play spin really takes the cake.

  • Aditya on November 14, 2012, 8:00 GMT

    Sir Humphrey, the David err Goliath err David of Mental Disintegration, take a bow :)

  • chang on November 14, 2012, 7:50 GMT

    Lol. Loved the saeed ajmal mask bit.

  • Sriram on November 14, 2012, 7:09 GMT

    Hilarious - starting from the "bovine excrement" in the title.

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  • Sriram on November 14, 2012, 7:09 GMT

    Hilarious - starting from the "bovine excrement" in the title.

  • chang on November 14, 2012, 7:50 GMT

    Lol. Loved the saeed ajmal mask bit.

  • Aditya on November 14, 2012, 8:00 GMT

    Sir Humphrey, the David err Goliath err David of Mental Disintegration, take a bow :)

  • Harsh Lahiri on November 14, 2012, 9:10 GMT

    well well well, Andrew, what can i say?? You really are a funny chap. "But even though they probably certainly know that he certainly hasn’t and he probably certainly knows that they probably know that he certainly hasn’t, they don’t know for certain that there’s no probability that he certainly has." I cant stop laughing. And your guide fro england to play spin really takes the cake.

  • Pakman on November 14, 2012, 9:47 GMT

    5. If sweeping is considered too predictable, then reverse it or better yet switch your stance and have a tonk. At least you can later claim, 'I got out because I got carried away, how rash of me. There's no way Ashwin could have gotten through my usual front foot defensive stroke.'

  • Pakman on November 14, 2012, 9:48 GMT

    'Bovine Excrement' - hilarious!!

  • Sam on November 14, 2012, 10:00 GMT

    You're just getting better at this.. :)

  • DirkL on November 14, 2012, 10:56 GMT

    Ha-ha! By some distance the funniest Page Two contribution in a long time!

  • kriskingle on November 14, 2012, 11:35 GMT

    "like Cinderella with half an hour, a party to get to and a kitchen to clean. " This metaphor isn't you, Andrew. The rest is pure gold.

  • vedprakash on November 14, 2012, 11:41 GMT

    I couldn't stop laughing. Better than a whole volume of PG Wodehouse