Archive for February 2010
I’ve got the binoculars trained on Craig Kieswetter this morning as he makes his England debut. It’s making me feel a bit nauseous seeing as the television is only four yards away.
First up for Kieswetter is an interview with Bumble, who is rolling out his new Paxman impression by grilling the young man with queries such as how long he’s wanted to play for England for and does he know Alistair Cook. I’m not sure if this last one is trick question, Bumble hoping to trip up Kieswetter and get him to blurt out ‘Graeme Smith’. Turns out that he does know who Cook is. He’s the England captain.
Kieswetter is not keeping today. It must be weird for a gloveman to be relieved of his duties in this way. Like a budgie released from his cage to fly around the front room. He must be very disoriented. In fact he has just been sick on the outfield.
Kieswetter is fielding at midwicket and touches the ball for the first time. He winces a bit. It hurts without gloves.
Eoin Morgan drops a dolly. I always feel much better when one of my colleagues shells one because it means that when I do I won’t be the only one. I’m sure Kieswetter feels the same.
Kieswetter fields. He has 87 on his back. To make sure that he is unlucky to Australians at all times.
Kieswetter runs in vain after the ball to the midwicket boundary. He looks exhausted.
Kieswetter takes one at square leg. He looked a bit surprised. I love this guy. He’s brilliant. I don’t know why people get so het up about his heritage. His mother is Scottish. You don’t get more English than that.
Kieswetter isn’t in the game much now. He needs a Red Bull to make sure he doesn’t drop off.
Matt Prior effects a neat caught behind – stumping combo as if to say “fuck you Kieswetter, these gloves are mine.”
Kieswetter fails to cut one off at deep point. I think he might have been asleep.
Bangladesh sneak two to Kieswetter at midwicket. He’d wasted time throwing off a phantom glove.
Everybody is bowling now. When’s Kieswetter going to get a go?
Bangladesh all out for 228. Captain Cook trots over to Kieswetter to wake him up. He has to bat now.
Wow. Mashrafe got fat.
Cook gives up on trying to get all the runs himself handing Kieswetter the chance to face his first ball. Against spin. It’s pushed into short extra cover. As is the second one. Boring. His first runs come off edge which nutmegs the keeper. Close. He’s trapped in front on the last ball of the over. Umpire says not out. Two lives gone in five balls. At least he’s lucky.
Down the pitch to Mashrafe and caressed through the covers on the up for four. More like it. Kieswetter is brilliant. I love South Africans.
Kieswetter’s only faced 13 balls so far. He’s in danger of nodding off again. Except that he twats one down the ground. He’s definitely awake.
Kieswetter looks exhausted already. All that running around can take it out of you.
Oh. He’s out. Needlessly stumped. Kieswetter is rubbish. I hate South Africans.
Here comes Pietersen. Love Pietersen.
I’ve been collating a home-made Brett Lee retrospective on Youtube this week following his retirement from the test game. It showcases what Lee is best at: throwing stuff at people really quickly.
This is a good one of him smashing in Alex Tudor’s face:
Poor old Tudor. He probably still walks down the street flinching at sparrows and running in terror from small children bouncing tennis balls. Even before this facial massacre, Tudor seemed like international cricket was all a bit too much for him. It can’t have helped that the first time he timidly stepped into the England dressing room, Nasser Hussain looked down his very long nose at him and said to the team: “here’s another one of those Surrey cunts”. Hardly a welcoming arm around the shoulder.
So this is for you Alex. Hussain. On his ass. Courtesy of Lee.
That’s it. I’m off to suck eggs with Wayne Bridge.
There is obviously a lot to admire about Sachin Tendulkar’s record-breaking double century this week but the most noteworthy is the serenity with which he floated onto the precise score of 200, a number so perfectly round that we will never forget it. Always thinking ahead is the little master.
This genius kind of sporting foresight can only be eclipsed by Brian Lara, who landed on a highest first-class score of 501 because it was already stitched onto the back of his jeans, and Tiger Woods, who won his first Open title with a final round of 69 because…well…because that’s just his favourite number okay?
Countdown champion Clarke Carlisle will fulfil a lifelong ambition by lining up for Burnley against Portsmouth on Saturday. Carlisle, better known as a man of letters and numbers, has long been interested in kicking stuff around a field and will get his chance at Turf Moor. “I can’t say it will be better than solving a conundrum, but it will be up there.”
Carlisle reveals that the production team on the show have already been taking the mickey out of him before his appearance whistling the Match of the Day theme and producing red cards when he fails the arithmetic challenge. When asked how he might face up to marking some of the Premiership’s most feared strikers such as Drogba and Rooney, Carlisle explained that nothing could be as daunting as “staring down Suzi Dent with a dictionary”.
Carlisle added that he was looking forward to disproving the public perception that all boffins are “malco-ordinated social deficients,” arguing that there are “plenty of people on the quiz circuit that can play a pass”. He was however bracing himself to be the target of a barrage of consonants and vowels mainly arranged into four-letter words.
Nobody could accuse Ian Poulter of being all mouth and no trousers. All mouth and just trousers maybe. Amazing technicolour dreamtrousers in every shade that you could think of, in horrendous combinations previously beyond the realms of human understanding. Apparently his fashion muse is his mother, who was once manager of Dorothy Perkins in Letchworth (which is obviously the couture capital of the world), although I am dubious of this fact. I’ve been to Letchworth and I didn’t notice any pubescent girls strutting around in fuchsia pink plus-fours.
There were those who suspected that the wardrobe exuberance and the assiduous construction of the Poulter brand was masquerading a limitation in talent, a theory perhaps bolstered by the infamous promise two years ago that when he fulfilled his potential “it will be just me and Tiger”. Which I treated with the same disdain as when a man I used to work with told me that he went round 9 holes in 19 shots. Using only a putter.
Maybe I was wrong about Poulter.
He may work hard at his image, but he also works hard at his game. And now it shows. Trampolining off a manful performance in the last Ryder Cup Poulter is now approaching the top of the tree, just as Tiger is scratching around in the dirt at the bottom of it. Of course to roost like a peacock on the highest branch he needs to win a major.
The Green Jacket would be good. He’d definitely have a pair of trousers to go with it.
My friend is organising a charity dinner and has enlisted my help in sourcing an appropriate after-dinner speaker. During my research I stumbled up this unusual coupling on an “online entertainment bureau”: legendary US golfing champion Tiger Woods and Tony Gubba, one of the best-known voices of British sport and ITV’s Dancing On Ice:
I like to think that at least one events planner has weighed up these two options against each other just because they are juxtaposed on the page. “I think Tiger would attract a lot of interest but he’s quite pricy at £100k+, whereas Gubba is a lot cheaper so we could spend the money we save on a bouncy castle”.
It’s probably moot anyway, because I don’t think Tiger is available for personal appearances having holed himself up in his sex hospital for the foreseeable. I wonder what one of these clinics look like. Probably very neutral and filled with things that couldn’t possibly be considered a sexual stimulus: biros, egg poachers, Volvo user manuals and wee Jimmy Krankie.
And who wants Tiger to speak after your supper anyway? The most interesting thing about his speech on Friday was that he’d nicked the back curtain from the White House. At a conservative estimate you could get 50 Gubbas for the cost of one Tiger.
Imagine the infinite possibilities of that. An 50-night Gubba residency. Gubba in the Park. The Summer of Gub. Gubstock.
If the professional golfing fraternity were brothers and the watching public were their doting parents, then Tiger Woods would be our one errant child with the remainder striving for our attention with their good behaviour. And failing.
“That’s a lovely drawing Ernie but can’t you see I’m busy with your brother Tiger at the minute? Go and play with little Rory and make sure he doesn’t eat any more crayons?”
And as our offspring perform at the junior recital that is the World Matchplay tournament in Arizona, we’re all holed up in the headmaster’s office listening to our naughty son’s abject apologies.
There was nothing remarkable about Tiger’s press conference, maintaining the kind of po-face that has served him well on the rare occasions that a three-footer slipped by the hole. The most surprising element was the pronunciation of his wife’s name. It was as if he had set himself one of those sporting challenges to name as many tube stations as he could during his speech and had got stuck on Ealing.
I think we all would now like for Tiger to get back to doing what he does best. Not having sex with cocktail waitresses, although he is obviously pretty good at that.
Go and play nice with your brothers.
Spare a thought for Steve Davies, England’s new third-choice wicketkeeper. Not only has he spent the last fortnight watching a South African interloper snuggle into his reserve keeper berth, but has been forced to do so from the uneasy distance of about 22 yards away. The England Lions novel tactic of opening the innings with two glovemen has pitted Davies against Craig Kieswetter in a cricketing version of a gladiatorial fight with pugil sticks, a tussle which has left Davies eating crash mat.
Kieswetter has almost certainly impressed the Colly-Flower management axis to such extent that he should think about packing his Bermuda shorts for the Caribbean and the Twenty20 World Cup. England could feasibly repeat the selection of two keepers in the side to accommodate Kieswetter at the top of the innings. It could catch on, like three centre-backs did in the nineties.
Davies is now left to stitch an ironic ‘England’s No.3′ into his gloves and head off down to the shadowy depths of LVCC Division 2 and his new club at the Oval. I wish him well, not only as a Surrey fan, but because there’s a vague danger that Chris Adams is currently transforming the county into a cricketing sister of Newcastle United: a graveyard for the potential of talented young cricketers, whose reputations are hoovered up into nothing.
Not that I’m overly pessimistic.
England’s fixture list is a hefty volume that has ballooned out in recent years to incorporate oddball warm-up fixtures against the likes of Wales, Warwickshire and Harrow 3rd XI. This week the computer spewed out a match against themselves. Or the supposedly more rubbish version of themselves, the England Lions. And the second string won.
The only comparable archive I can pull out of my personal sporting experience is a trial game I played for my under-14 school ‘D’ team against the superior ‘C’ team. I spent most of the first half adjusting my shin-pads (I had very fragile shins) before an ignominious hand on my shoulder hauled me off in the direction of the ‘E’ team. I say team, but it was more an athletic leper colony, a tiny squadron of diabetics, future computer programmers, and the kind of young men whose sole amusement lies in firing peas out of his nostrils. Our only obligation was to wave off the cavalcade of minibuses carrying the rest of the teams off to such exotic locations as Wisbech and Chigwell.
It was the start of a lifelong disaffection with field hockey, which I now consider to be a non-entity of a sport. When I see someone carrying a hockey stick (which is nearly always at Clapham Junction) my inner voice is loudly condemning them as massive fannies.
I am now an authority on snowboard cross. Yesterday’s women’s competition was an exercise in not falling over, a discipline which seemed beyond most participants. It came across from Vancouver like an extended sequence from You’ve Been Framed. My favourite entry was the wretched woman whose Olympic dreams evaporated when she failed to leap off with enough momentum to slide up the first incline and ended up hopping off the course seconds after she had started. Because of the binding onto the board, any competitor with the misfortune of slipping over is compelled to jump along with the same deranged motion as a sack race entrant.
One of the more dramatic of these incidents involved Lindsey Jacobellis, who lost her bearings on the way down and succeeded in obliterating one of the control gates. The race organisers take a dim view of this, those gates cost a lot to replace after all, and she was disqualified. Jacobellis was one of the pre-race favourites, but her previous Olympic form may have been a reason to put your pocket money elsewhere:
So Jacobellis fell within metres of the gold medal because she was attempting what is known in the trade as a grab or as I like to call it, showing off. In the immediate aftermath Jacobellis claimed that she performed the manoeuvre in order to gain balance. Which is a little bit like a drunkard explaining that he drove his car home to avoid the dangers of the bus.
Subsequently, Jacobellis revised her opinion and admitted that “snowboarding is fun; I was having fun.” Which would be quite admirable, except I can’t imagine being asked the same question about her erratic showboating ever since is all that fun.