The Week That Was...July 30 - August 6 August 6, 2006

I'm a cricketer, get me out of here

Will Luke on The Week That Was, July 30 to August 6



Australia are off for a top-secret team-building trip to Queensland © Getty Images

Ricky and John
John Buchanan is ordering his troops to a hideaway in Queensland to prepare them for the Ashes. The holiday - sorry, team-building exercise and rampant bonding - will test Australia's finest sportsmen by placing them in "stressful physical situations", outdoors, without any modern luxuries or conveniences. Queensland's not that backward is it? It all rather smacks of those two faces forever on our screens, Ant and Dec. The pair have delivered British couch potatoes with a KFC-bucket-sized load of arduous television seemingly forever, but perhaps their zenith has been I'm a celebrity! Get me out of here! The show, essentially a vehicle to shunt Z-list celebrities up the alphabet of vanity in Shiny Media World, surely must be circled every week in Buchanan household's TV listings paper. Watch out for those poisonous snakes and spiders, chaps.

I say, have a corkscrew my good man
The travelling journalists at Headingley for the current third Test between England and Pakistan were all given a gift this week: a corkscrew in the shape of a bat. A lovely gesture, not to mention an invaluable tool...for those who drink. Are the Headingley chiefs aware of the Qur'an's prohibition of alcohol? This rather harks back to a similar gaffe Old Trafford made a few years ago when they laid on a feast for the scribes...of pork pies. Maybe it's a Roses thing.

Mr and Mr?
Sky Sports' Cricket AM show has been asking players to take part in a segment called Mr & Mr - in tribute to the kitsch 1970s TV quiz Mr & Mrs - where team-mates are asked questions about each other ... favourite film, that kind of thing. While some of the "couples" barely seem to have spoken to each other, let alone know innermost secrets, rather worryingly Kent's Robert Key and Matt Walker scored a perfect 10 out of 10. Asked what Key's phobia was, Walker revealed that he was scared stiff of ... worms. He also added that a couple of weeks ago during a drinks break in a Championship match, team-mates kindly filled Key's cap with worms and handed it back to him. The rest you can imagine, but safe to say rarely has Key moved so quickly.



Glenn McGrath: not that scary these days © Cricinfo Ltd

McGrath's pointless mumblings
When Glenn McGrath was a spindly whippersnapper, with a paltry 200 Test wickets under his belt, he began his now traditional pre-series tirade in naming his bunnies. Brian Lara was a regular victim, as was Michael Atherton, in the heyday of kick-them-before-they're-down mental disintegration Steve Waugh instigated during his reign in the mid 1990s. McGrath has continued his pre-series banter ever since, but the once fearful statement of bullish intent is now nothing more than friendly bull****. This week he named Alastair Cook, England's latest prodigy, and Andrew Strauss - who joins a select band of batsmen to be nominated twice by Australia's chuntering fast bowler. With age comes gluttony, and McGrath is no exception: no longer content with naming two rabbits, he wants three or more. "[Strauss is] one of many, there's no use naming one (bunny), these days you name two or three." England have moved on. In fact, Australia have too. Revealing it with a smile rather than the steely-eyed snarl, perhaps even McGrath concedes that his once chilling victim list is no more threatening than a hairdryer.

The return of Schofield?
The young Yorkshire legspinner Adil Rashid made the headlines for the second week running a few days ago when he smashed a hundred for England Under-19s. In all he took 10 for 202 and made 114 and 48 to further enhance his burgeoning reputation; Duncan Fletcher must be fairly wetting himself in glee at the prospect of a multi-dimensional leg-spinning allrounder, but he isn't the first legspinner England have yearned for to succeed. Remember Chris Schofield? While England have formed a culture of cotton-wooling their young and aspiring talent, the gloomy days of the 1990s were a different matter entirely. Schofield - England's answer to, well, no one really - was thrust into Test cricket against the relative might of Zimbabwe in 2000 who, back then, had a clutch of talented batsmen. Wicketless, his form slumped to such an extent that Lancashire, his club, released him in 2004. He's on the comeback trail, though: after playing for Suffolk, and for the Durham and Surrey 2nd XI sides, he hasn't given up hope of once again pulling on an England jumper. "Now I'm proving a couple of people wrong with all the overs I'm bowling. Anybody who is playing cricket has to have the desire to play for England. The first step at the moment is to try to get a county contract, bowl the way I have been doing the last couple of months and take it from there."

Quotehanger
"I wanted to break my head against a wall". Dale Steyn reveals the ghost of Ray Jennings's notoriously Victorian tenure as coach lingers on, after bowling Kumar Sangakkara off a no-ball. Sangakkara went on to make 287. Ray would be proud, Dale.

Will Luke is editorial assistant of Cricinfo

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