Archive for September 2009
This isn’t the most flattering photo of Rafa Benitez I’ve ever seen. I know he doesn’t really rate up there with Enrique Iglesias in the hunky Spaniards league but it looks like he’s sneezing razor blades. Either that or his body has been used as a husk by an evil alien bug thing like Vincent D’Onofrio in Men in Black. In reality he is most probably on the cusp of unleashing an impressive Hispanic “shit”. Which is fair enough: it seems to sum up Liverpool’s performance last night.
I somehow managed to get live SkySports on my mobile yesterday. The capacity to watch actual sport on your phone is the greatest technological advance since the videprinter. It’s a revelation.
The picture is obviously rubbish and the commentary feeds through about a second before the image – my physics teacher told me that light travelled quicker than sound but anyway – and after about 15 minutes the massive absurdity of it overwhelms the little handset and it gives up the ghost. But I as I whizzed down the M4 last evening I could still ascertain that England were in the process of booting out the South Africans from their own tiny tournament. I hasten to add that I was in the passenger seat, there are rules about driving while watching ODI cricket.
It was all a bit much for me. I felt like Marty McFly in Back To The Future 2 and that bit when the giant holographic shark comes out from the cinema to chomp him. TV phones and a classy performance from an England one-day team. I just undid my seatbelt and rolled out onto the hard shoulder outside Reading Services.
It’s been too easy to bash Andrew Strauss with the ‘conservative’ stick. He’s had the same conservative haircut for his whole whole career and probably since he first went up at Radley. He has a conservative voice, the kind of voice that you might hear say something like ‘now look here, my good man’. He probably votes Conservative. He may be wholeheartedly looking forward to next summer, beating the Bangladeshis and the Pakistanis under the benign gaze of Prime Minister Cameron.
But inserting the opposition in a ODI knowing that your side will have to chase under lights is not conservative, albeit on a pitch that was well suited to his seam attack. And when I say attack I mean Jimmy Anderson. No-one inserts these days, it’s so passé. Arguably he could have gambled and bowled Anderson straight through his allocation such was the difficulty that he was presenting to the Sri Lankan batsmen.
That’s what I would have done. But then I vote Liberal Democrat.
If this blog was an geranium it would have wilted away through neglect long ago. Well I’m back to sprinkle a watering can of words over this moribund little venture to see if we can revive it. I apologise for this break in service, but I offer these feeble excuses:
1. I’ve been playing golf in Scotland. If you like your golf courses wild and wooly and smelling quite a lot of cowshit then I can definitely recommend the east coast north of Inverness to you. It may be a few degrees short of the Arctic Circle but worth a pilgrimage.Try Brora for a start.
2. The domestic cricket season is dribbling to a close and I don’t know even know what date it is in the international arena after interminable nonsense that was the one-day series between Australia and England. I suspect that this is all part of an evil plan hatched by the ECB to murder 50-over, a plan which has already been excecuted on the county circuit and is now being implemented globally. I hadn’t even realised that the Champions Trophy had started so it was unlikely that I was going to write about it.
3. I’m finding the Premier League season strangely underwhelming at the moment. I think it’s because of the choking abundance of uninspiring fixtures. The kind of match that will have you dribbling into your sofa a third of a way through Match Of The Day. Now that the Football League Show is transmitted directly afterwards on BBC it’s possible to wake up and have no concept of whether you’re watching top flight or Championship football.
Bear with me on this one.
Back in the 80s when I was a small boy, my dad would offer my sisters and me a special treat. He’d gather us around like cuckoo chicks in the nest, pierce a hole in can of condensed milk and distribute it among his brood via a teaspoon.
But after a few exquisite spoonfuls, he would call a premature end to the sugary fun explaining in patriarchal terms that we should exercise moderation in all things. Which inevitably lead to rancorous grumblings from his offspring that he was a stingy old git and was probably going to slurp down the rest of the can himself when we’d all been tucked up in bed.
So when I came to an age when I was able to put the capital together to buy my own tin of condensed milk, I did so. I poured the whole lot into a bowl and began to ladle it greedily down my gullet with a tablespoon. Yes. A tablespoon.
Very quickly my father’s words came back to haunt me though. A mere third of the way through the bowl, I was finished. Full-bellied with sweet vomit dribbling down my chops. A valuable lesson learnt.
And that’s how I feel about cricket at the moment. It’s like milk. And what exacerbates the bloated feeling is that the milk on offer isn’t very good at being condensed milk. It should just stick to being normal whole milk.
I don’t trust Joe Denly as an international cricketer. Which would seem a mite judgemental only a week into his career but I should add that it’s not because of the various mishaps that have befallen him so far.
It’s because his head is too small. I reckon you need at least a standard-sized swede to counter the rigours of top level cricket. It makes it all the more remarkable that Brett Lee was able to pinpoint the Denly noggin with such lethal accuracy.
Of course Denly should be given longer to prove himself. The selectors must yearn for an opening batsman that excels in all three forms of the game. A sort of Marcus Trescothick but without the sausages and the issues.
Denly’s reputation was forged in Twenty20 and List A cricket, but it’s his first-class form this season that has kept him firmly in the selectors’ gaze. If he returns to the fold swiftly after his untimely sprain then Alastair Cook may be looking over his shoulder at a tiny tiny head.
It may be my febrile imagination, but there’s the faintest whiff of paedophilic hysteria about this latest Chelsea scandal. The director of football, Frank Arnesen, seems to have been handed the role of a latter-day tracksuited Childcatcher, stealing off with cherubic innocents from the Continent over.
We may yet see a baying rabble of News of the World readers gathered outside the gates of Stamford Bridge brandishing placards that demand “peadlophlies out”.
I suspect that a crack battalion of well-paid lawyers will whirr into action and wangle Chelsea out of this transfer ban after an appeal. But FIFA and UEFA deserve a rousing ovation for their entertainingly hardline stance on all this which has elicited a hilariously apoplectic reaction. We can only hope that they’ll treat us all to an encore up at Old Trafford.
I really enjoyed the Sky coverage of the abandoned Twenty20 international at Old Trafford on Tuesday, particularly David Lloyd, whose trademark look-to-camera was at its most intense. I was disappointed however the producers did not feel the necessity to send out Paul Allott and his microphone to collect some samples of the outrage among the crowd. I felt sure we’d be treated to some ancient gurning Lancastrian muttering darkly about the muddy patch and how it compared unfavourably to the fields of Passchendaele.
I also felt the lack of one Peter Siddle. He’d been given the last week off since the Oval (as days in lieu maybe) and taken his ladyfriend off to Disneyworld in Paris. When you fly with Peter Siddle you fly first-class.
I’d like to think that in taking this trip Siddle was making some oblique statement about the ‘Mickey Mouse’ status of Twenty20 cricket but I would hazard that it is probably more likely that he’s just a massive fan of people dressed in large furry Goofy costumes.
So the curtain has been drawn across another transfer window. Sometimes deadline day feels like the night before your geography coursework is due in. You’ve had all term to finish it off but you’ve left it until the last minute because you were too busy playing Sensible Soccer.
And now you’re sitting at your desk and your mum has brought up your spaghetti hoops. The panic has set in because the miniscule amount of data you collated from the survey you prepared isn’t fitting the hypotheses you’ve created and you’re searching for words, any words, just to fill the vast void of ruled lines. And before you know it the clock has struck four in the morning and you are writing gibberish.
And similarly managers suddenly find their squad light of a left-back come late August press the panic button and load up the credit on the mobile phones and dust off the fax machines. And get their mummies to make them a packed lunch obviously.
No such procrastination in the football universe though. This summer the managers of this country obviously put the videogames to one side and actually knuckled down to their own coursework. Which sort of meant today was an anticlimactic way in which to shut the window.