August 5, 2014

Discarded by England? We've got advice for you

Score tons of runs and look for an alternative job while waiting for that England recall, boys

"Is it okay if the bails stay put and I get knocked over?" © Getty Images

Michael Carberry… Nick Compton… Monty Panesar… Dave Podmore. Notice the pattern? That's right: we've all got the mark of Satan on us. Except nobody's going to take our picture and put it on the front page of the Sun, like that kid who got a squashed Haribo stuck on his chest. Because what we've got in common is we're all DBE's - Discarded By England. None of us did anything wrong, except Monty maybe, and to be fair his behaviour over the last year or so is no worse than some of the things I've seen late on at one of my gentlemen's entertainment after-dinner gigs - I did an East Midlands police benefit the other week and not one Assistant or Chief Constable went home in the same uniform he'd arrived in.

We're all victims of the Reverse Nod and the reason Carbs has lost out to Sam Robson isn't hard to see - he was born in Croydon. Sure, Robbo was born in Paddington but it was the Paddington in Sydney, Australia. After recent bad experiences with Trotty and KP the powers that be have decided to cast their net a bit wider than South Africa, the usual preferred option, which explains why Compo (born in Durban) is currently stuck in his Taunton doldrum. Ballancey's okay because he's from Zim.

Dave Podmore's become a bit of a cricket historian since discovering the ESPNcricinfo archive, which is full of fascinating stats - for example, I bet you didn't know, probably because you turned the radio off when he came on, that Boycs has banged on about "lies, damned lies and statistics" for at least ten minutes in every single one of his TMS broadcasts since Trent Bridge and he's about to overtake his own record of Katy Perry mentions.

Of course history like temporary traffic lights can work against you, and I've used up more than a few hours lately that could have been better spent walking the dogs, taking a leaf out of Max Mosley's book and trying to get the details of some of my more disappointing none-fers obliterated from the records. They really aren't anybody's business except Pod's.

Anyway the point I'm making is that historically speaking, sticking a non-Brit or two in the team has always been part of the selectors' plan, going back to the days when Lord Haw-Haw was chairman and the likes of Ranjitsinhji-y and the Nawab of Pataudi-y were drafted in. Call it a superstition if you like, which we know the game's full of. Dave Podmore's career is no exception, and some of them have entered legend - like if you're 12th man, the fart powder needs to be in the two drinks nearest to you when you carry the tray on so the batsmen (or better still the umpires) get them.

I've also learnt to restrict my purchases of The Puzzler magazine to when there's a picture of a blonde lass on the cover, rather than a brunette or a redhead. Somehow it makes the sudokus go a lot easier when you're sat out there on the balcony, and the time spent on the park always seems better too. And, of course, my best ever day (2 for 73 against Combined Universities at Fenner's) came after I parked in a Disabled space by mistake. I've been doing it every game since, and though it's never actually worked again, you do get used to being a bit spoiled (the same goes for Disabled toilets).

As I say, this salty wisdom is the result of a life spent on the county circuit, so what I'm recommending to my fellow DBEs is: go back to Somerset, Hampshire, wherever, score a ton of runs, sure, but also push over a ton of pennies and perfect your Race Night commentary technique as you work on your benefit season. Remember Chris Read and that backwards somersault he did to avoid the snot-boxer from Chris Cairns? Some of the so-called pundits reckoned that ruined his career but Pod thinks the opposite. Ready's never looked back or been more respected and he must have been bricking it before Southampton when he was being put forward as a replacement for both Cooky as skipper and Matt Prior behind the sticks. That's why I fear for Steve Finn - he's spent the last few months perfecting the bails-knocking-off trick as a party piece for the after-dinner circuit, now he's got the nod to go out there and avoid doing it for England!

As for Dave Podmore's Reverse Nod: it seems I'm now persona mea culpa for being Jimmy Anderson's unofficial sledging adviser at Trent Bridge. To be fair, I can see that a few well-chosen words out of the side of the mouth might look a bit old-fashioned when modern technology means Straussy can get away with airing his views on KP using the I-thought-the-microphone-was-turned-off trick. But it still hurts. Anyway, let's see how Jimmy gets on at Old Trafford without me. Pod's prediction is that Beefy's wicket-taking record is safe.

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