Warne’s 50 greatest cricketers

Shane Warne has run out of ideas for his Times column and, like a Channel 4 producer bereft of inspiration, is producing a list. But it ought to be far more entertaining than those interminable countdowns (“100 greatest romantic moments” etc), so take a look. In today’s (50-41) are Mike Atherton (43) and Alec Stewart (44)

I bet Alec’s here

After leaving Tuesday’s press conference at The Oval, my magazine colleague quipped “I bet Alec Stewart’s here…he’s always here” and, right on cue, there was the great man standing a few metres away. We found it very funny, but it’s been a long season; just about anything makes us laugh these days; tomatoes, Tony Blair, getting drenched to the bone (quite literally) while walking home from work. The men in white are finalising the forms and we’ll be admitted shortly.

Oh and judging by Alec’s orange hue, retirement is clearly suiting him.

Apologies to Warwickshire residents

If you were driving home at about 17.50 on Tuesday and were tuned to BBC Radio Warwickshire, then my apologies for the inane, caustic screeching coming from your speakers. It was me. Fortunately for all involved, my second foray into radio interviews was a marked improvement on the first waffling attempt – but I still wheeled out the cliches (worryingly, without realising). Thanks to Stew and Jo for sorting it out – it was good fun.

The presenter, Jo, was a bit downbeat about England’s chances in the Ashes and I surprised myself by forcefully disagreeing. It made me realise that while England have had a difficult, testing year, it’s far from doom and gloom. A lot rests on Harmison, Hoggard, Flintoff and the opening batsmen – but what’s new? They pulled it off last year, so to speak, and could pull it off again this year.

Might as well end this with one of Alec Stewart’s finest cliches: whoever plays the best cricket on the day will win. Talking of Stewart…

Bowling Mushy!!

Enthusiastic cries of support from wicketkeepers are one of the game’s great joys, and usually have me doubled over in laughter. I always used to crack up listening to Alec Stewart: “Oooh! I like that, Crofty! Oh yes, liking it Crofty son.” And this summer we’ve been treated to Gilchrist stating the bleeding obvious with “Baaaaaa-rrrr-ling Shaaaanne” (like he needs confirmation).

But the best has to be when Mushtaq Ahmed was in his pomp, whatever that really means, and Latif would shout, repeatedly, “Bowling mushy mushy, booowwwlingg.” Actually that has me thinking; I remember on previous Pakistan tours hearing “Shabash shabash” shouted by the ‘keeper. What does it mean? “Well done” or “well bowled” or something?

Anyway, back to Mushy. I see he hit 90 today – yes, 90! My boss was there, and wrote about it here. Couple of days ago, Inzamam hinted at a possible recall for Mushtaq which is utterly brilliant news. Always enjoyed watching Mushy bowl, and always surprised me how he actually managed to spin the ball…quite an odd action.

So, we might once again get to hear “Bowling Mushy!” On that note – Shabash.