Mark Butcher on ‘Just the Two of Us’

First there was Darren Gough. Then Mark Ramprakash. And now, Mark Butcher is the third recent England cricketer to swap his whites for the mic. It’s passed me by until now but, on a drizzly Sunday evening, what else can you do but wade through the TV channels and find some nonsense to watch? The nonsense is called Just the Two of Us and is one of these reality TV things. I hate them with furious passion.

Whereas Gough and Ramprakash had no dancing ability whatsoever, yet still somehow managed to win, Butcher is a guitarist and musician of repute. So he’ll probably win it like his two England colleagues did.

All is not lost, England. Andrew Flintoff is a keen Elvis fan so look out for him on this show next year, with Steve Harmison on maracas and Chris Read and Geraint Jones fighting for the drumsticks.

“It’s not a blood sport; this is music,” Butcher said. “It’s not about hurting people it’s about making you feel good, and hopefully we did that tonight.”

God help us all.

Update Superb work from Will. Moments after posting that, Butcher was cast off into oblivion. Sorry!

Lehmann England’s next coach?

Darren Gough is a bit of a rumour merchant, but he does know Darren Lehmann pretty well. And last night, Gough said Lehmann was a “strong rumour” to replace Duncan Fletcher as England coach. Thanks to Rod:

The old boy stories continue with the news of an on-stage interview with Darren Gough last night, at the Adelaide pre-Test dinner. The former England bowler said that Darren Lehmann, the South Australian skipper, was a ‘strong rumour’ as the next England coach after Duncan Fletcher. Whether it was a blast at the current coach is unknown, but Gough said: “He teaches enjoyment to the players… his knowledge is second-to-none, especially of the England players after playing in the country for so long.”


Mark Ramprakash to appear on Strictly Come Dancing

Oh dear God. As if 17,000 runs in a season isn’t enough to persuade David Graveney to select him (and it isn’t) it was confirmed today that Mark Ramprakash is to appear in the next series of Strictly Come Dancing. Didn’t he learn from Darren Gough?

Maybe Bruce Forsyth is a mole for the England selectors; perhaps they have Ramprakash on standby but are unconvinced by his feet movement…

Update: interview with Ramps at Cricinfo.

Another selection headache in the works

It has been a rather quiet day for cricket. Leicestershire beat Somerset in Division Two of the Championship, both teams playing purely for pride. Hampshire are up against Gloucestershire in a more important if reduced in length Pro40 match. Meanwhile, Warwickshire’s second eleven have grabbed the county their only piece of silverware this season in the creatively named Second Eleven Trophy. Bears fans may take a little joy, but the annual Twenty20 mascot derby holds about as much importance.

Eyes, of course, turn to tomorrow’s day-night international. After Cardiff’s match was lost to a sodden pitch that wouldn’t dry in the dark, many seem to question the format’s use for internationals in this country. However, my question for the moment is this – who should play for England tomorrow? With Gough injured, there’s automatically a new spot, but would you change more? A new opening partnership, maybe, since those are so popular. Or a second spinner perhaps. Or should we put some of those headlines into use, slot in Onions for Gough and persevere?

England look to Onions for spice

Yes! The moment has come for every cricket journalist in the land, if not the world. Graham Onions has been called up to replace Darren Gough who has a shin injury. Here we go…

Onions spices up England
Onions cooks up a feast
Onions peels through Pakistan top-order
Onions produces mouth-watering display
” ” ” ” ” ” ” ” eye-watering display

Your suggestions please. The best will win an onion (obviously).

Eng v Pak, Twenty20 – who to pick?

In the last week, with the ongoing ‘Ovalgate’ saga, the big media questions on the one-day series have not been the usual deliberations over selection. Now that it seems that there will definitely be a series, with both sides confident that Pakistan will be competing, the next couple of days may bring a resumption of normal service.

There are certainly some potential headaches for David Graveney and company when it comes down to converting their 16-man squad to an 11-man side. It seems unlikely that Ed Joyce will interrupt the ongoing battle for an Ashes place. But with both Collingwood and Pietersen set to come into the team that lost to Sri Lanka at Headingley, it seems likely that one of the batsmen will have to make way rather than reduce the bowling attack. Jamie Dalrymple will retain his place as Fletcher’s favoured spinning all-rounder, and Chris Read must be looking forward to proving he is the best English ‘keeper in the shortest form of the game.

It is well documented that England’s recent one-day problems lie on a foundation of wayward pace bowling. The inclusion of six pace options, with only Harmison and Mahmood retained, suggests that the selectors are trying to meet this head on. But who to pick? Broad and Gough are certainly popular choices in the media, with impressive Twenty20 pedigree. Who do you think should be on Monday’s team sheet?

One career lifelined; another finished

Darren Gough was handed an England lifeline today when he was named in a provisional squad of 30 for the October Abomination, otherwise known as the ICC Champions Trophy. No such luck for Kabir Ali, though. Once heralded as an “exciting” (I’m guessing) allrounder, he persuaded the selectors to drop him during the one-day series against Sri Lanka with a display of worrying inadequacy. That’s the end of his career, then (although it remains to be seen whether he’ll follow Gough’s path and prance around on TV to attract the selectors’ attention once more).

I really couldn’t give a monkeys about this tournament. It’s a load of hogwash.

Gough and his gob

I have to admit that when Sri Lanka were pissing all over England in the one-day series I did seriously long for someone of Darren Gough’s calibre as a one-day bowler. I even, momentarily, honoured the notion of recalling him. But then, he is so very old and so very up his own derriere – in his own cheeky, impish and mildly endearing manner – that I’ve binned the prospect of him ever returning, especially when he sounds off like this:

“I never give up and I’m determined to get back in but the only reason I’m not selected was the fact I did Strictly Come Dancing,” he told BBC Five Live.

“The reason I took the winter off was to spend some time with my children and it was the best winter I’ve had.”

Who is he trying to kid? He spent the winter prancing around for some extra dosh. He ends it with:

If I don’t get a recall for the Pakistan series, I’m not going to get the recall

Well, duh.

We are all thankful to Darren Gough

Never again (not this week at least) will I make disparaging remarks about Darren Gough. Essex today were nine down, with Zaheer Khan looking for his tenth in the innings for Worcesterhisre. He blitzed 50 from 33 balls before falling to Matt Mason. Good old twinkle-toes. Khan’s astonishing figures last night of 9 for 28 in 69 balls look rather less special after Gough laid into him: 9 for 138!

Not a bad effort, Zaheer.

Gough to replace Cooley?

Scott mentioned that Darren Gough won the BBC’s Strictly Come Dancing competition and, hot on the dancing heels of that comes the news of Steve Harmison calling for twinkle-toes to replace Troy Cooley. Bit soon, I’d say – but not a bad call for the future, I reckon. He’s not dumb, Darren.