July 16, 2014

Two Tests in 13 days? Pity the poor pundits

It's not just the players who are in danger of burnout, you know

Like a lot of my colleagues both in the press box and watching the cricket on Sky at home while claiming parking and eating exes, Dave Podmore is getting more than a little aerated about the back-to-back Tests. I'm not sure the lads are going to have recovered enough from Trent Bridge to do themselves 450% justice at Lord's; we could be looking at the low hundreds, which is no use to anybody.

Don't get me wrong, I've got no worries about Cooky's form, now he's realised that the correct position for him to come in is at No. 11, taking the new cherry and leaving opening-the-batting duties to Jimmy. In fact it's a bit disappointing that the skipper didn't try this before. Cooky must've gone to enough benefit reverse-dinners at Ilford and on HMS Belfast to know that doing everything backwards is not only a good laugh, it's also a great team-building exercise.

Sure, when you've played for as many counties as I have there's bound to be the odd double-booking, especially in the charity arena. Many's the time when I was at Leicester, James Whitaker, Gordon Parsons and Dave Podmore - known as "The Three Dustbuster-teers" after our legendary exploits opening a branch of B & Q just off the Syston roundabout in 1996 - would jump into Jimbo's Hillman Avenger and hightail it to Queen's Med in Nottingham if there was a hint of a sick kiddie needing bringing out of a coma with the help of some hearty East Midlands banter.

Of course Jimbo's sitting at the ECB's top table now, drinking wine with his dinner, but Pod likes to think that it was sitting at those wee bedsides that he learnt to hone those silver-tongued persuasive skills that have let him sail through a series of sticky press conferences after we lost the Ashes, lost to Sri Lanka, lost the plot over KP etc etc.

Anyway, the point is that not even the Dustbuster-teers, guys whose whole lives were dedicated to putting something back into the game, would have contemplated playing back-to-back charity matches. And before all those stats buffs with Fablon-covered notebooks start putting their hands up and saying "Excuse me Pod, what about Mister Blobby?" - I don't think it's giving away too many trade secrets, as he isn't getting the same number of high-profile gigs these days, to reveal that there was more than one bloke who wore that pink and yellow skin as he rolled onto the park. Harold Pinter's Gaities XI versus the Metropolitan Police at Roehampton on a Wednesday, followed the next day by Runcorn Chamber of Commerce versus Allen Stanford's Superstars in Antigua? Impossible schedule, even for someone as light on his toes as Blobs.

And it's not just the players who are in danger of burnout after two Tests in 13 days. I worry for the pundits, I really do. I happened to turn on my car radio at the weekend hoping to catch Fighting Talk on Five Live - it's where I pick up most of my political insights (What was it the ad said? "No FT, No Comment"?) and I can tell you that Pod's name's been on the waiting list to go on the panel and air my firm-but-fair views since 2003. I'm still hopeful, because it's not as long as the 31 years the BBC's kept me in the reserves for A Question of Sport (a record - check it in Wisden).

But instead of Fighting Talk I found I was tuned into Test Match Special at the precise moment Boycs was saying, "I'm just imagining Fred Trueman bowling on this Trent Bridge pitch." Well he'd have to imagine it because 1) Fred's dead and 2) if he wasn't he'd be about 85 and I bet even Cooky could get him off the square. And Vic Marks can't compare Jimmy Anderson to David Gower any longer now Jimmy's seen Lubo off good and proper. These guys are going to be running on empty come day four at Lord's unless they do something drastic - like taking a tip from Blowers.

If you look on his website you'll see he's offering the chance for you and six mates to take him out to dinner when you can all call each other "My dear old thing" and get sloshed. And I wouldn't mind betting that before that happens you have to sign a release form saying that all anecdotes involving no trousers in hotel corridors and the like may be used free of charge by H Blofeld Esq in any TMS broadcasts and one-man stage shows yet to be devised.

It's a good wheeze: I know because I've tried it myself. My idea was called A Pint and a Pasty With Pod, and Radio Trent was dead keen on it until Clare Balding came along with Ramblings. Bloody women multitasking again. You'd think they'd be satisfied getting the nod to become bishops.

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