Archive for February 2011
The nature of the internet means that you’ve probably all discovered this by now, but if one of you sees this for the first time on here then it is worth my time. I’ve let it slip through to the pages of this sportsblog on the spurious basis that Bobby Davro once appeared on Channel 4′s athletic jamboree The Games. During the series Davro revealed an intrinsic comedy, hitherto untold of in any of his material or performances. First of all he dramatically ascended the steps to the highest diving board only to unfurl a superlative and eye-watering belly flop. And then sinking to his icy knees after triumph in the curling, yelling earnestly to his children “daddy’s a winner, DADDY’s a winner”. But it seems that Davro has long showed his prowess as an “at you, not with you” sort of comedian:
Like most footage with Lionel Blair in it, my favourite bit is Lionel Blair. A man so rabidly cheery there appears to be a trace of residual cheeriness even after tragedy strikes.
There was a time when England stars strode the turf at Surrey. The Oval dressing room was a habitat where big players flourished and dominated. It was an age of Thorpe, Butcher, Stewart. The era of Martin Bicknell. But then they were gone. Mysteriously driven into extinction as the county slid into a prolonged slough.
So you can’t really blame the Surrey administrators for hollering now that suddenly the international superstars have returned. Although when some marketing factotum was instructed to ‘big up’ this exciting influx, they obviously took it too literally.
It’s a creative effort that should be appluaded even if it does present a nightmarish vision of genetic experimentation in cricket gone wrong. Fee fi fo fum, I smell the blood of a naturalised Englishman through his mother’s passport. Sadly it may be that you’d be more likely to see the giant version of Kevin Pietersen than the lifesize one, given his previous attendance record at Hampshire.
Still, the Oval is definitely worth paying a visit this summer – why not seek the shade under Chris Tremlett’s huge sweaty ass?
If England‘s problems are really down to an Ashes hangover, then it must be the grandmummy of hangovers. The type of hangover that drains your cranium of all its fluid, forcing your brain to reach for the nearest restorative liquid, any liquid, even if it’s the faggy, gob-infused dregs of an ancient Malibu and coke. A hangover that bearhugs your innards and compels chunky vegetable soup up your foodpipe and dribbling out through your mouth. A hangover that wakes you on your front doorstep in a puddle of your own urine with no recollection of what happened before.
2010 happened before. England won their first major limited overs tournament and brought home an urn. It’s the same game chaps, sort of. It’s the same ball. Not a novelty soap.
Sehwag waits on Sunday. I can feel my headache coming on already. I might watch the Hollyoaks omnibus.
I find amusement in overlaying national footballing stereotypes onto cricket teams. Thus the Dutch were pioneers of ‘total cricket’ in 1970s in which batters and bowlers were interchangeable and in so doing created the concept of the ‘all-rounder’. After a long period of underachievement, the Dutch have recently favoured a more prosaic, belligerent style executed by borderline psychotics in the middle order called Nigel. England have been warned to strap on their chest pads in preparation.
In actuality the Netherlands side have no chance of following their footballing compatriots up the road to the World Cup final. To do so they would require eleven Doeschate in the team. Sadly they only have ten Doeschate.
England will attempt to kick their vexatious habit of only being able to perform to the same level of whichever opposition pitches up that day. Judging by speed at which they shuffled to victory against Canada on Wednesday, they’re still wearing their patches.
England by 5 wickets.
I think we were all surprised to wake up the other day to see Kevin Pietersen stick his face above the parapet and allow Canuck emigres to hurl shiny white balls at it. Partly because previously Pietersen has proved resistant to a posting any higher than the No.4, preferring to lurk cravenly in the cosier surroundings of the middle order. And partly because it represents a shift from the meticulous scheming that has become the modus operandi for the Flower-Strauss management axis.
What should be added is that Eoin Morgan‘s shattered finger shook the kaleidoscope, and now the batting plans are now in flux. Besides, eleventh-hour selectorial shambles are almost a tradition in England World Cup campaigns. It creates a feeling so familiar and warm you could toast your teacakes on it.
Early signs indicate tentatively that the gamble may pay off. And apart from anything else it neatly merges the KP dilemma and the opener dilemma into one slightly bigger uber-dilemma. It’s one less dilemma to worry about.
Here’s Kevin Pietersen looking a little morose during an interview at the Oval this week. I suppose I’d feel little distrait if I only had four snatched days with my family between tours, and one of them was spent helping promote a team he will hardly play for. Surrey haven’t even been able to muster the necessary crockery resources to serve his biscuit on a plate. Kevin Pietersen doesn’t eat his cookies straight from the table. It’s not even something luxurious like a Boaster. No wonder he wants to retire.
Before most major sporting tournaments I like to whet the appetite by glancing back over some of the action of yesteryear. But having visited the buffet bar of Cricket World Cup memories, I’ve decided I’m not that hungry.
Admittedly my recollections of the early competitions are sketchy, being that I was -4 when the inaugural World Cup took place. The participants were mainly robust-looking men with big collars and bigger hair whose primary ambition was to exit the field of play in order to avoid the frequent invasions of onrushing Rasta men and bell-bottomed youths. Who in turn were inevitably chased by harrassed coppers who looked like they’d spilt over from the set of Z Cars.
The 1992 jamboree probably has most to commend it with its modish pastel pyjamas and Jonty Rhodes‘ demented stump obliteration against Pakistan. But the most enduring incident was the result of a suspect pre-Duckworth Lewis rain calculation which left South Africa needing 22 off the last ball to beat England. They didn’t make it. They should have run quicker.
1996 was a largely forgettable tournament save for the emergence of a Sri Lankan side led by Arjuna Ranatuga, who pioneered the enterprising tactic of irritating his opponents into submission. My most lurid recollection is of English opener Neil Smith violently chundering by the wicket in Peshawar against the UAE. I like to think of that small technicolour puddle as a powerfully iconoclastic statement against the ongoing failure of English limited over cricket.
From that point on the dispiriting Australian procession began and may continue in the coming weeks. Sky Sports have been showing highlights packages of all tournaments, while pointedly excluding the last World Cup in the Caribbean in 2007. I don’t blame them. It’s a story no-one needs to be told.
Here’s Adam Voges doing the best thing that you can do on a cricket field. It combines everything we cherish in a cricketer: dexterity, speed of thought, and dainty rope-jumping skills. I wanted to showcase the video of Steven Finn perpetrating the same trick in yesterday’s one-day international, but as no-one watched it I can’t find it on the internet. Finn’s exploits represent a particular curiosity as he’s previously proved himself a peculiarly unstable player, a continual faller-over in the style of Norman Wisdom. A long Norman Wisdom.
Largely I leave the making of military comparisons in sport to jingoistic American Ryder Cup captains, but when I think of the English dressing room I can’t help imagine an army hospital, full of shattered bodies and high with the rancid smell of decay. Their whites stiff with dirt and gore, returning from the front line of a battle they’ve no need or desire to fight. The war in Australia was won at Christmas, the subsequent smaller squabbles have only served to strain and fracture the squad. How many of Eoin Morgan‘s fingers have to be flown home in a splint before questions are raised of ECB command?
Apologies for all this. But when you’re propounding palpable truisms like there is too much international cricket being played, sometimes you have to dress it up in ludicrous war metaphors.