Archive for January 2011
There was a man living in the village that I grew up in who lived next-door to the village hall. Whenever there was some festivity at the hall, perhaps a garden show or particularly rambunctious whist drive, he would complain to the parish council about the noise levels. It was like he was pursuing a vendetta against fun, as if fun had done him some previous injury or he’d had a bad experience with fun at a party. His name was Mervyn Suggett.
The country is populated by vengeful, petty people like Suggett. They all descend from one progenitor who created a bloodline of Suggetts to vex us ordinary folk with their clipboards and sound monitors and incessant sanctimony.
The golf club is a habitat in which Suggetts thrive. They gravitate to the fairways, attracted to a game which not only requires a hefty book of fiddly rules, but also places the application of those laws into the hands of the participants as opposed to an official.
It was almost certainly a Suggett who was watching the Abu Dhabi Golf Championship on his television as Padraig Harrington moved his ball a millimetre forward with an infinitesimal caress as he went to place it and decided that this infraction should not go unpunished. The Suggett obviously ignored that Harrington gained no advantage over his opponents in this act, and that his intervention would evaporate the rare form that the affable Dubliner had finally put together. He or she (a Suggette) logged onto the European Tour website and lodged their grievance in the feedback section.
Following his disqualification, Harrington stuck around in Abu Dhabi to give what was a presumably a tongue-in-cheek masterclass in how to mark one’s ball. As you can see, in attendance were a random brigade of sportsmen including cricket’s Chris Cairns.
It looks great fun. So get fucked, Mervyn Suggett.
It is actually quite comforting watching England flounder in the current series against Australia, like putting on a old pair of slippers or drinking a cup of hot Ribena. It seems that all our optimism for the World Cup may be based on their recent gains in the other two formats of the game. It may just be that our most successful operatives are better suited to cricket’s extremes rather than the middle ground.
Take Michael Yardy for instance, a keystone of the triumphant Twenty20 campaign in the Caribbean last year. In the abridged version, his skill is to zip off his four-over allocation before the batsmen have taken their guard. In the longer form of limited overs cricket, at around the fifth or sixth over the opposition notice that he is bowling at them and begin to make the necessary preparations.
Conversely Matt Prior is a cricketer with some superior statistics at test level, where he seems to play with that thumping one-day beat. But put him in a blue shirt and his batting becomes oddly and ineffectually frenetic, like a man trying to stave off a tiger attack with a stick of celery. His surprise promotion has also freshened up a rather musty debate about the transience of the opening combination. Steve Davies had previously performed steadily, stymied only by the obvious weakness of looking like a frightened owlet about to chunder up a worm.
Of course Andy Flower has made a few queriable decisions that have turned out to be providential. And I’m just sitting here in my pants with a laptop across my knee.
Here’s an artily murky photo of James Anderson. It was sent to me by Trion: Z, the manufacturers of the natty necklace he is sporting. They also generously donated one of their bracelets to sample. I’m not normally one for gratuitous product placement, but I am in favour of jewellery that makes you better at cricket.
Apparently it uses magnetic and ionic technology to help the wearer focus, energise, and generally feel more cheerful about life. I tried mine on for the duration of my flight to Sydney. Hardly the best conditions for a controlled experiment, but it has to be said that I skipped through the arrivals hall feel well and truly ionised.
To complete the review I dispensed with the bracelet for the return flight. I touched down a week ago and I’m still whack. It’s like my body doesn’t consider GMT good enough for it any more. My bladder is the most resistant of my organs to the time difference, it still thinks it’s party-time down under, waking me regularly through the night demanding that I urgently empty it. The days are spent finding corners to curl up in like a pissed cat.
I miss the bracelet.
One of the many favourable aspects of being in Australia over the festive period is that you don’t have strain too many jugular muscles to rubber-neck at the wreckage of their cricket. This is the front page of the Sydney Morning Herald the morning after the first day calamity at the MCG.
The article which is just visible on the left-hand side is about the floods in Queensland, where some people have died.
Australian cricket fans obviously don’t like Michael Clarke very much. Just one toss into his stint as skipper and he was on the end of a concerto of boos and catcalls as he walked to the crease at the SCG. But who else could fill the temporary vacancy left by Ricky Ponting? Certainly not Mike Hussey. Despite being one of the doyens of the squad, and one of the few tiny thorns in the English side during the series, Hussey’s claims to the captaincy have never been forwarded.
Everything about Hussey’s unsuitability for the role was revealed during a rain interruption on day one of the test match. A ‘getting to know you’ segment was played on the two large screens in the ground during which members of the Australian squad were asked who would play them in a film of their lives.
The raft of predictable Russell Crowes and smirking Brad Pitts ensued until it was Hussey’s turn. His eyes widened with panic, indecision etched across his face. He eventually was able to get the measure of the scenario, and then replied that he didn’t know. When he realised that this wasn’t an acceptable answer, he followed it up with a second response.
It’s a film I think we’d all pay to see.
Harris Sportsthoughts is back from Australia, replica urn safely in hand baggage, and with a huge scoop. I sent my Mum and Dad down to the SCG on the day before the test match, where they were able to secure an interview with injured Australian captain Ricky Ponting.
So here’s the line that will have sports editors along Fleet Street re-arranging their back pages. Mum reports that Ponting is surprisingly handsome, personable, with a nice face. Dad took some photos too. Mainly of his feet, he hasn’t quite got to grips with the digital camera yet.