Archive for December 2009
Like a recovering cocaine addict I’m leaving all this white stuff behind. Tomorrow I’m migrating down south to South Africa for the winter to point at lions and also take in the third Test Match at Cape Town. Although I’m very excited at the prospect of gawping at elephants and rhinos and hyenas in the wild, I hardly need tell you that I’m more enthused by the thought of seeing Graham Onions in his natural habitat.
So sound the sombre bugle, this is the last post of 2009. To wish you all a happy Christmas I’ve put together a highlights package of this blog’s output over the last year. A bit like when television producers can’t be bothered to create anything new so cobble together a few clips from the archives. You know, like in Happy Days when they all reminisce about that funny thing that Ralph Malph did and they gaze off dreamily into a distant corner of Al’s diner and an old scene from a previous show is cued up.
It wasn’t me. I promise. Well I only once. For my gran. She’s not that computer literate. Well, twice actually. I voted on behalf of the cat. No opposable thumbs you see. He can’t work a mouse unless he’s chasing it down a small hole in the skirting board.
Anyway, it’s all a bit depressing given the number of unspeakable things I did to win votes the first time round. But if you can be bothered again, please do so here.
Paul Harris bowling Ian Bell during the first innings of the test match just gone at Centurion was not the best thing I’ve ever seen on a cricket pitch. And I’ve seen a man run himself out because he thought the game was over. That was an American boy at my school actually.
Unfortunately sometimes when Bell gets out he really gets out. It’s the kind of You’ve Been Framed caper that has the unhappy effect of extinguishing memories of Bell’s more worthy achievements in the game. Like the very essential 72 he scored against the Australians at the Oval without which the pilfering of the Ashes would not have been possible. That was in the last test match before this one lest anyone had forgotten.
The main reason why the Bell detractors were polishing their spank-paddles was who was lumbering in at the other end when he shouldered arms. Paul Harris is a man famed for his inability to spin the majority of his deliveries. When I remind myself that Harris took five wickets in that innings and he is in fact in the Top 10 of the test bowler’s hit parade, it is impossible to do so without my inner voice sounding like a patronising uncle.
Who knows what thoughts were floating around the Bell brain when Harris bowled that delivery? It is entirely feasible that he was gazing up the wicket and pondering what actually Paul Harris is. He doesn’t look like a spinner. He doesn’t really look like a cricketer. More a strange fuzzy giant from a distant island. Maybe that’s his mystery.
Jean-Paul Duminy doesn’t appear to have many weaknesses as a batter. He’s what commentators describe as ‘organised’ or ‘uncomplicated’. England have tried the short ball. Which as a tactic is about as obvious as pointing and shouting ‘look over there’ just before you’re going to bowl.
But here’s something that Strauss and his bowlers may want to take heed of: Duminy has a security blanket. In his own words:
“I have a favourite blanket that I have kept with me since I was two years old. It is something special, something I feel very comfortable with. I need to feel it between my fingers when I’m in bed back home.”
So this isn’t some casual relationship he has with his blanket, it’s a deep-rooted dependence.
If Mick McCarthy was a holiday he’d be a wet week in a caravan in the Corley services on the M6. And when I say wet I mean it pissing it down. And when I say pissing I mean actual urine. To watch him be interviewed is to be hit repeatedly in the face by a very pessimistic spade.
No man has ever approached the highest stratus of football with such a hardy sense of defeatism. Given the opportunity to build on a fortifying victory at White Hart Lane against a crumbly United team bouncing off defeat themselves, McCarthy threw in a thousand towels. To protect his team for more winnable bouts ahead. Come off it Michael, it’s a football pitch not the killing fields of Ypres. The turf isn’t littered with the tiny shards of your half-empty glass.
I wonder what happened to McCarthy’s pride and hope. Maybe they’re up his bollocks where Roy Keane stuck them.
***WARNING: This post may contain wanky historical references from the Simon Barnes school***
Watching India edge out Sri Lanka at Rajkot this morning was probably like looking down on the Charge of the Light Brigade. C’est magnifique, mais ce n’est pas le guerre. Or cricket.
You may consider that to fall short by three runs chasing 414 in a one-day international would be an achievement that would inspire a chorus of ‘jolly good effort’ on the Sri Lankan balcony, but captain Sangakkara looked like he was about to gouge his own eyes out. His team had manoeuvred themselves into a spot of relative comfort but failed to score a boundary in the last five overs to miss out – there’d only been 104 in the rest of the match.
825 runs in the game would suggest that the bowlers struggled a touch: in fact for most of proceedings they were relegated to just facilitating the re-start of the match, with as much relevance as a throw-in during football. At this rate quick bowlers will soon be regarded as freakish sideshows like Rory Delap. Something to be smirked at by Mark Lawrenson on Football Focus or to be gawped at on Youtube. Like this:
I am watching a lot of ESPN Sports Classic today. I have the week off and I am trying any tactic to avoid Loose Women. They’re showing one of those Masters Movies that look more like a promotional video for a New England retirement home. It’s the 2001 edition when Tiger Woods completed his Tiger Slam. I missed it at the time because I was holiday in New York probably getting served pancakes by one of his many female acquaintances.
Needing a par down the last to regain the Green Jacket, he clumped a drive down the centre, knocked a short-iron to 20 feet and rolled in the putt for a birdie. Easy. Tiger Woods really is very good at golf. We should remember that. And people complain that he doesn’t engage with his fans enough, but he does. He’s just quite selective on which fans he engages with, and slightly overenthusiastic when he does so. I wonder how many of his indiscretions began with an innocent request to autograph a visor.
It’s amazing how much seismic activity one peripatetic penis can cause in the fault lines of an entire global sport. An entire library of articles has been written on how golf is going to survive without the fierce media glare that is normally concentrated onto Tiger. But what is Tiger himself going to? Most sportsmen retire to play more golf.
Perhaps we shouldn’t dwell on it too much.
I’ve been nominated for the best cricket blog by the World Cricket Watch. Without a trace of false modesty I can state that some people might find this surprising, not least because this is multi-event blog. It’s like Dean Macey lining up against Usain Bolt and Asafa Powell for the 100 yard dash.
In order to tie an outboard motor to the Macey sneakers I’ve hired a hotshot PR agency to launch a cohesive campaign and I am setting about meeting babies and greasing palms. If I have any leftover grease I will apply that to other areas too if necessary.
My first foray is to curry favour with the award administrators by creating my own title for best online cricket coverage, the nominees of which are below:
No wonder no-one liked me at school.
There was definitely an air of desolation about the BBC Sports Personality this year, held in the knowledge that the huge majority of the viewing populace was next door watching the X Factor. Even the desperate flailing attempts of the producers to attract more numbers from the pop side by putting on a show that looked more like Take That at the O2 seemed in vain.
Years ago the ceremony resided at the cosy but inferior conferencing facilities of the Queen Elizabeth II Conference Centre where they crammed in the sporting glitterati to such an extent that Lennox Lewis would be forced to sit on Willie Carson’s lap. But it’s a guest booker’s nightmare when the operation moves the 12,500 capacity Sheffield Arena. Hence I spotted amongst the ranks the likes of Brian Deane and Devon Malcolm and Kriss Akabusi and myriad other unknowns who aren’t fans of the X Factor. They’ve even created an award for unsung heroes just to boost the invitee list with lollipop-lady types who probably think that Simon Cowell is an abomination.
I suggest that next year the Beeb would do well to head south to the comfortable surroundings of Parliament Square and return to the low-key old school format complete with the hilarious informal intermission bit where Frank Bruno played tiddlywinks against Desert Orchid and stuff like that. However much you blur your eyes Sue Barker is not Cheryl Cole and SPOTY is not the X Factor. Create a point of difference because at the minute nothing very interesting is happening until in the end Joe McEldery wins.