Half-times have evolved. In the olden days it used to represent a window for Jimmy Greaves to perform his redoubtable ‘Rudd Gullet’ impression.
But the tone has been raised during this tournament by television producers who have judged that it would be near-sighted to intrude on this newish nation and fail to represent some of its evident growing pains. So segued into the usual half-time conversation we are shown sombre but hopeful footage of Alan Shearer pacing around a local township rapidly learning the extent of the poverty of its inhabitants. Or chipper Dan Walker from the Football Focus sofa visiting wide-eyed children orphaned by the rampant scourge of AIDS. The written press has also grasped the opportunity to relate darker issues of violent crime and road safety.
But easily the most harrowing story to be revealed is that of 23 millionaires incarcerated in a prison camp and tortured by being forced to play endless pub games against their will. They are only released from their confinement three or four times a week, either to visit a nearby golf facility or to be herded towards various stadia so that they can do the job which they are paid thousands and thousands of pounds to do. Naturally they are unable to do this, having had their normal talents sapped away by grotesque amounts of snooker. It rather puts all the other troubles into perspective.