Inappropriate umpires

Ah, the umpire. A bastion of respect and authority, standing static at the top end of the pitch. We curse their decisions and mock them when they do an irish jig to avoid a bludgeoned four, but they remain the game’s “final word”. Without them, carnage would ensue. Which got me thinking…

Who would be the most inappropriate umpire? My top ones so far are Basil Fawlty, Baldrick from Blackadder and the dodgy geezer from the Fast Show (“I’m a little bit wehhhh, little bit woooaaah. I’ll nick anyfink, me”).

Of equal hilarity and shitness would be various political leaders past and present: Hitler (although he’d clearly enjoy giving batsmen out, with that salute of his), Stalin (twat), Churchill (drunk and disorderly) and Blair (clown, egocentric, wouldn’t enjoy lack of spotlight).

Oh God, Blair really would cock it up spectacularly.

And yours?

Howard feeds his addiction

Ah, John Howard. Rarely does a week go by, seemingly, in which “cricket” isn’t uttered by the self-confessed addict. And yesterday it was revealed he spent AUD$90,000 during his time in London last year to go to the cricket. Now, Australian readers will grab the Corridor shaped voodoo doll when I say this, but sod it: it must be brilliant to have a PM that loves cricket.

John Howard and Steve Waugh

Ours – for all his good points – doesn’t like the game. Ha! Actually, he does like it, but the New Labour dictatorship, brewed in 1997 and currently resting in a Tuppawear container in Gordon Brown’s apartment above Number 10, decided football was far too cool to ignore. And so it was that our Tony chose the “beautiful” game over the five-day drinkathon, otherwise known as cricket.

I thought I’d mentioned this before, that Tony was a closet-cricket fan, but alas couldn’t find it.

Anyway, have a look at Johnnie Howard’s expenses:

JOHN Howard and his entourage spent more than $90,000 on accommodation and meals in a four-night stay at one of London’s most exclusive hotels.

The visit last July, which included two visits to Lord’s for the Ashes Test cricket series, was part of a 10-day trip in which the Prime Minister visited his fellow Iraq war leaders, British Prime Minister Tony Blair and the US President, George W.Bush.Documents obtained under Freedom of Information laws show the trip cost taxpayers $613,947.57, or $61,314 a day.

Most inappropriate celebrity cricket commentators

Disclaimer: I have flu. I’m not thinking very straight. I don’t swear too much on this blog, so you’ll forgive the humourous outburst in this post as I amuse myself with a little story.

This is an old pub favourite of mine, usually only attempted after at least five or six pints, or at least when inhibitions don’t prevent you from acting out (as loud as possible) your best Samuel L Jackson impersonation. So. Who would be the most inappropriate celebrities to commentate on a cricket match and why?

Samuel L Jackson has to be one of my best, purely for that magically eloquent phrase, “You Motherfucker.” Picture the scene: Henry Blofeld is waffling uncontrollably at the mic, like the ageing cravate-wearing god of waffle he is; his producer, Peter Baxter, is tearing out what little hair he has left after a lifetime listening to Blowers’ fascination about red buses and curiously brown pigeons. And many other things. On comes Samuel, and the change immediately brings a a wicket:

“Yo, here comes Harmison and FUCK if aint got himself a wicket. That mother******’s bowled Afridi all over the mother******* shop. Yo bitch, you outta there!”

Baffled, Blofeld returns with a surprising and contrasting grace and ease of word. Jackson is sacked.

For entirely different reasons, The Rt. Hon. Tony Blair would also be utterly inappropriate as a cricket commentator. Even wedged between the uber-smooth Benaud / Nicholas combination, he’d out-shmooze Shiny Mark with such ease that Nicho would be reduced to his party-piece: taking off his wig and waving it around like a bafoon. Worse, though, would be our Tony’s handling of arguments that would arise in the comm box.

“Ambrosia. I think you meant Ambrose, there, Chony,” quips Benaud with unruffled glee. Nicho’s professional, but even he can’t hide a chuckle. Atherton’s on the floor, crying with laughter. Greig and Botham not sure what’s so funny; Botham assumes everyone’s laughing at him and smacks them with bats.

“Huh. Right, yeah – ok, hang on guys,” says Tony. “Look, I mean, you know, Gordon and I have been…oh no, wrong situation. [hands closed, palms facing inward in priest-like display of honesty to the thousands of listeners who can't see him.] Cherie and I are committed to…oh that’s not it either is it. Er, right, Euan apologies profusely to McEwans, he won’t do it again.”

Blair is sacked.

You see, we take our commentators for granted. They’re not a bad bunch, though; Nicho, as much as I’ve cringed and squirmed, is peerless these days as a presenter. He’s bloody brilliant, and his shiny shmoozing adds to the overal Nicho package. Celebrity commentators? Who’d have em?

Who would be your most inappropriate celebrities to commentate on a cricket match and why?

Cricket in Parliament, and Arundel Castle

This just came through. It’s rare to hear about cricket in Parliament – I hope the Prime Minister will wish England good luck on the eve of The Ashes this summer, as he does with Football teams. Perhaps we should all email him

This is Nick Herbert’s maiden speech (pardon the pun) as conservative Member for the Arundel and South Downs consistuency and, after waxing lyrical about how beautiful an area it is, he starts to talk about the ground.

I can well understand Howard’s dismay at being unable to continue to represent such a beautiful constituency. I say with some care, given that I know that some of my hon. Friends present also represent beautiful constituencies, that Arundel and South Downs must be one of the most beautiful constituencies in England. Thirty miles broad—twice the size of the Isle of Wight—it can take almost an hour to drive from one side to the other. It famously contains the town of Arundel and Arundel castle, where indisputably the most beautiful cricket ground in England is found. Each year, a visiting touring side plays the Duke of Norfolk’s XI or another side constructed to give the tourists their first game. This Thursday, we look forward to the visit by Australia, which is to play its first game of the tour at Arundel. I hope that a member of the Professional Cricketers’ Association Masters XI will replicate the success of my great-grandfather, who, when playing for the Duke of Norfolk’s XI against Sussex at Arundel, took five wickets for seven runs. For those who might not know much about cricket, let me emphasise that five wickets for seven runs is quite an achievement. If we can begin with that sort of performance against Australia, it will stand us in good stead for a great Ashes victory.

As he says, Australia play a PCA XI at Arundel on Thursday – the traditional tour opener for tourists in England. Relaxed atmosphere, and opposition, to say the least…or not! My mistake – the PCA are fielding a decent team:

Stephen Fleming (Captain) Notts & New Zealand
Chris Cairns – Notts & New Zealand
Paul Collingwood – Durham & England
Devon Malcolm – former England
Darren Maddy – Leics & England
Chris Read – Notts & England
Chris Lewis – former England
Graeme Swann – Notts & England
Mark Ealham – Notts & England
Phil DeFreitas – Leics & England
Kevin Pietersen – Hants & England

Decent-ish. Do we read anything into Kevin Pietersen’s inclusion in this “friendly” game, and the 20/20, and the clutch of ODIs?

Tony Blair destroys cricket pitch

One more reason to VOTE OUT THE GRINNING TWIT: he’s ruined a Milton Keynes cricket pitch. Bastard. Bet he’s never even been to a game. At least John Major was a fan, and has recently been voted in to the MCC committee.


ECB & ICC hold responsibility

Well, the rumblings of the Eng-Zim tour “rumble” on this morning. Jonathan Agnew is obviously quite bitter at having been banned entering Zimbabwe, and makes some interesting comments on his BBC column:

No one has run a more vehement anti-Zimbabwe campaign over several years than the Daily Mail, yet all three journalists from that organisation who applied for accreditation have been accepted!

I can’t even find it amusing any longer – this HAS TO BE CALLED OFF. It’s amoral, wrong and damaging English Cricket. Tony Blair and the British Government say it’s down to the ECB and ICC – how can it be? They’re Cricket authorities, not political departments.

On a similar note, I’m sure I read recently that England have been “forced” to host Zim for a Test series. I’ll have to do some digging, can’t find the link, but I’m sure I read this.