July 11, 2013

Spare us the Vaughany

Will no one save us from this turbulent former England captain?

Over the last few days the imminence of the Ashes has had a strange effect on some people, who have worked themselves into a tizzy of hyped up stupidity, like six-year-olds hearing the distant tinkle of an ice-cream van.

In particular, the ubiquity of Michael Vaughan is a matter of great concern. A media profile is a precious but fragile commodity. Too much exposure and the value plummets. From time to time I'm sure we all find it useful to get the perspective of a former England captain, but at the moment, supply of Vaughan is definitely exceeding demand.

Here's Michael Vaughan previewing the Ashes on radio. Here's Michael Vaughan giving us his Ashes thoughts on television. Here's Michael Vaughan broadcasting from the International Space Station so that extraterrestrial life forms can have the benefit of his Ashes wibblings. Here's Michael Vaughan teasing people on Twitter. Here's Michael Vaughan explaining why he would punch administrators and why Australian fielders should be verbally abused.

Worst of all, here's Michael Vaughan insisting that a man should be allowed to play a trumpet at Trent Bridge. Why should he be allowed to play a trumpet? Because Michael Vaughan likes the noise a trumpet makes. It seems that the England players are also fond of the haunting sound of spittle blown through brass at a distance of a hundred yards.

Frankly I'm on the side of the ground authorities, and I don't particularly care what the England team want. They haven't paid £100 a ticket, nor will they have to sit next to a man wheezing into a parping metal tube all day long. I'm a tolerant kind of chap, but I draw the line at trumpets in cricket grounds. The same goes for vuvuzelas, kazoos, electric guitars, tubas, glockenspiels, French horns, cellos, cymbals, saxophones and drum machines.

There are two mistakes here. First, Michael Vaughan makes the mistake of forgetting that he isn't in the England team anymore. Secondly, the England team make the mistake that all pampered modern sportsmen make. They misunderstand what spectators are there for. We may be English. We may be going to watch the English cricket team play cricket. But we are not their cheerleaders. We are there to watch them, not necessarily to help them.

Those who did go to Trent Bridge had some mildly diverting cricket to watch. There were a few quick runs, a healthy dose of boundaries, and a decent number of wickets, although, unlike in a T20 game, these interesting incidents were spread out over the course of six or seven hours, thus diluting the entertainment. But Test aficionados are easily pleased, and if there's any excitement at all during the day, that is more than enough to send them home enraptured, declaring that Tests are the absolute hornet's whiskers.

Siddle was the deputy hero of Wednesday, with his cut-price Craig McDermott impersonation, but clearly the player of the day was one Philip Hughes. The Australian batting line-up has been rearranged in recent months, and perhaps because they think it best serves the feng shui of the innings, Hughesie is now coming in at a lowly six, after Steven Smith. But an artist rises above such things. Seventeen balls, seven runs, a flappy swat and a risky lunge, and our Phil remains unbeaten, upholding the honour of the Hughes name, and, I'm absolutely certain, poised to register a great-great-great grandfather of a hundred on Thursday.

Andrew Hughes is a writer currently based in England. He tweets here