July 8, 2014

Take the bypass on the road to victory

England have got stuck in a contraflow but that doesn't mean they can't turn things around in time for the India series

There's a school of thought out there saying it's been a disastrous summer of sport for the Brits, whereby the lads have failed to do themselves justice in various arenas, be it football, tennis, rugby, cycling - and what kind of message were we sending out by letting an Irish horse called Australia win the Derby? To hear some people talk, 2014 deserves to be consigned to the same underground car-park bin of history where Charlie Brooks dumped his saucy DVDs. Though he did get a result, of course.

Well, speaking as a plastic-glass-half-full kind of guy, Dave Podmore couldn't disagree more with the moaning Minnies and wailing Warneys. Sure, we may have hit a bit of a contraflow on our cricketing journey lately, but you deal with that the same way you would if you were trying to get to Kettering via the A14 in time to cut the ribbon at a Sealed Knot hog-roast after Neil Mallender's had to pull out due to a domestic DIY crisis: you turn round and find an alternative route to Junction 7.

Take Swanny. He saw the way the wind was blowing after Perth and six months later he's tweeting selfies of him and Boycs sharing big-hearted Yorkshire banter in the TMS box at Headingley. You can't not take your hat off to that sort of enterprise and forward thinking. Swanny's brought with him a welcome breath of fresh dressing-room air and smelly-socks jokes sorely lacking on Test Match Special since CMJ left for the Everlasting Tea Interval. If Pod has a criticism it's that he might be trying too hard too soon - I heard him doing a Blackadder impression the other morning and if I hadn't had two dogs on a leash in each hand I'd have sent Swanny a friendly text of advice reminding him to respect tradition: there's still at least five years' worth of juice to be got out of Dad's Army and Are You Being Served? references, so remember you're in for the long haul and don't peak too early.

It makes Pod sad that certain other recent recipients of the England reverse nod haven't been a bit clever like Swanny and known when to call it a day, like the Monty Python team (who as far as I'm concerned aren't funny now, and weren't funny then when I first saw them on a boarding house telly at the Scarborough Festival around 1977; Don Wilson wasn't that impressed either). I'm talking about you, KP. I mean, fair play, you couldn't resist the lure of the IPL and the promise of prize Lambrettas for the wife and nipper and a free cement mixer for the work on the garden extension - though half an hour with a Thomson's Local could've got you the same if not a better deal, and no need to leave your armchair let alone humiliate yourself day after day in front of 80,000 Daredevils fans at Feroz Shah Kotla.

There's as much chance of KP pulling on the sacred Waitrose shirt again as Dave Podmore ringing the Lord's bell to usher in the second India Test

Yet now I read that KP's gagging to put on the sacred Waitrose shirt again. I'm sorry, but there's as much chance of that happening as Dave Podmore has of ringing the Lord's bell to usher in the second India Test. Not that I haven't put my name forward to take on that honour, several times, but the powers that be weren't far-sighted enough to realise that me ringing out the Kwik-Fit fitters theme might bring in some much-needed cash and postpone for a while the need to sell off the Nursery End for fracking purposes. Anyway, it's plain to see that KP's bored to death just turning up at The Oval to play and miss every second Friday, and his kids' hairdressing salon sure hasn't worked the oracle. I mean, "Bella and Beau", oh dear. If it's the youth market you're after, what's wrong with "Tats 'n' Tanning"? Schoolboy, not to say pre-school, error.

KP should have taken Uzzy Afzaal as his role model, their career paths being almost spookily identical (Notts rejects, both winding up at Surrey, never really doing the business wearing the three lions). But now Uzzy's filling his boots across the road from Trent Bridge with Slumdog, his restaurant that's just been given a ginormous thumbs up by no less a gourmet than "Bumble" Lloyd in his Cricket Paper Good Grub column - and that's without even going in there! You can't buy publicity like that.

So with the weather set fair and the close-of-play catering sorted out Pod reckons the lads are in good shape for Wednesday, especially now Cooky's free to concentrate on his batting and field placings thanks to Brett Lee's heroics at Lord's on Saturday. Warney won't be able to use his tweeting hand properly for another six weeks, more than enough time for us to take an unassailable 4-0 lead in the series.

Dave Podmore, holder of more giant cheques than any other cricketer, is the creation of Christopher Douglas, Nick Newman and Andrew Nickolds