Dying embers

Even the Lancashire dressing room of my time was inhabited by half-a-dozen or so. Nick Speak, Graham Lloyd, Phil De Freitas, Wasim Akram and Graeme Fowler all paid constant homage to nicotine. Early season Benson and Hedges games, when sponsors not only provided loot but product as well, produced a terrific scramble for those distinctive yellow bricks; even the non-smokers were known to hoard a packet or two to bargain with. How about a few half-volleys in the nets then, Daffy?

Phil Tufnell and Wayne Larkins were the culprits on my first England tour. Because I was a first-time tourist, and because I have no sense of smell, I was forced to room alternately with ‘Tuffers’ and ‘Ned’ for the whole five months.

Another cracking piece from Mike Atherton in The Sunday Telegraph.

Phrases and cliches to be banned (along with smoking)

It’s D-day for me and millions of other happy smokers on July 1. Yet while we wheeze our way to a healthier lifestyle at the behest of our loving, caring, huggable government, there is one burning issue in the ashtray of politics which has yet to be doused: clichés. They are absolutely everywhere, and the disease is spreading thick and fast.

Lawrence Booth wrote a piece on it for 2006′s Wisden Cricketers Almanack (absolutely required reading), but still nothing has been done. And I’ve just read one of the worst – one of my most hated expressions – from Paul Nixon, regarding tomorrow’s Twenty20 kick-off: express yourself. “Just go out there and express yourself”. It provokes in me a boiling rage, and makes me want to eat my feet.

Talking of such things, Mr Booth scribbled this in his column a couple of weeks ago which caught my eye:

Moments before Monty entered the Lancashire library to share his
thoughts on his four-wicket haul in West Indies’s first innings with
the press, a member of the fourth estate decided to get to work on
the pad of A4 placed on the table in front of Monty’s seat
(presumably in case he felt the need at any stage to jot down a few
thoughts). “REMEMBER TO SAY,” wrote the journalist “HIT THE RIGHT
AREAS, WORK HARD, KEEP IT SIMPLE”.

Enter Monty to stifled titters. He sits down, spots the advice and
chuckles out loud (the Spin has the chuckle on tape and will happily
place an audio version of it on-line if challenged). He points it out
to England’s media-relations officer, James Avery, who chuckles too,
and then scans the beaming faces before him in search of the culprit.

Superb. Lawrence’s The Spin is emailed to just about everyone who knows or cares about cricket, and journalism, every Thursday. Get it now.

And your favourite clichés? Come on; put your hands up and come to the party. Express yourselves…

That’s it. I quit

Giving up smoking
Not from my job, or from blogging. But from the bastard hell that is otherwise known as smoking. I said I’d give up this year and, six months down the line, I’m nowhere near close from stopping. But following the tremendous cold I’ve picked up this past few days, it’s now moved down to my chest. So…enough’s enough.

Watch out people of Barnes, people of Hammersmith and in fact anyone who gets in my way over the forthcoming weeks. I don’t know how I’ll react to a nicotine-less life, but it could be disasterous for many people!

Scotland’s poor smokers

Yes it kills you. Yep, it’s bloody expensive and lulls you into a fall sense of unbridled satisfaction. It smells, it lingers, it stains. But it’s our/their/your right. Pity Scotland and her happy smokers, for today marks the beginning of the end.

I know it’s wrong. In fact, me and a mate were accosted by an elderly drunked in the pub the on Friday who had, after 50 years of puffing, finally given up. Well done that man. I usually resent the preaching of recently-quit smokers, but his insistence was too pressing. Much of his ramblings were incomprehensible, no doubt fuelled by another equally wonderful poison, but he did make one useful observation: smoking is the biggest con around. It is. And we’re all the more pathetic for it. However ridiculous as it sounds – and I tell my brother this on an almost weekly basis – we enjoy it!

As I lit up another one, and supped on my beer in a remarkably cheap pub which does beer for £2.80, it got me thinking. 2006 will be the year I quit – it will – but nevertheless, I despise the nanny state and dictatorship we live in. Maybe the government are covering their arses for the eventual influx of law suits (“no one told me it would kill me!”) from society’s gluttonous creatures. Nevertheless, it makes me angry that someone in government can tell us – law-abiding, polite, hard-working tax-payers – not to smoke.

Oh, and by the way, the bars housed on the Thames in Parliament are exempt from the upcoming ban on smoking; those very same minions will happily puff on their cigarettes while the rest of us suffer in the stupifaction of better health and a nicotineless existence.

Yes it’s bad, but it’s also our choice. Meanwhile, Jacques Kallis has just hit his 24th hundred (vain attempt to make this rant related to cricket, which it clearly aint)

Apologies, shan’t rant about non-cricket matters here again.

Warne caught with pants down

[Via Jagadish] – Warne’s been caught with his pants down…woops!

Shane Warne