He’ll Be Back After The Break?
Gary Lineker has previously tasted the bitter ignominy of being substituted for a seemingly inferior replacement having been yanked off during his final England appearance for Alan Smith. And while Hazel Irvine is a sort of broadcasting version of Smudger, reliable if unspectacular, the howls of complaint for her promotion over Lineker for the BBC Masters coverage were far less raucous than those in Stockholm.
Not only because Lineker delivered his lines with the fretful confusion of man reading the text of a long-dead language, but also because Irvine is nice and safe, even out of her comfort zone of a lilac Berghaus, with that Scotch dependability reminiscent of Dougie Donnelly is his World Bowls pomp.
I had braced myself for a Gary-less Masters, having spotted him from my desert hotel helming Manchester United vs Bayern Munich for a Middle Eastern sports network, roaming in the wilderness like a jug-eared Jesus. It was a faintly discombobulating Frankenstein’s monster of a broadcast, as Lineker was plonked in a fair representation of the chrome Sky Champions League studio alongside Sky stalwarts Graeme Souness and Ruud Gullit and new ITV buck Teddy Sheringham.
Lineker was clearly more at ease even in these alien surroundings than at the Butler Cabin. Even if he did keep slipping over the words “we’ll be back after the break”.