Settee: The Search for Extratesttrivia Life

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How have you coped without live Ashes cricket for nine long days? Did you return to your normal daily routines, watch the endless re-runs of ‘England’s best days’ on Sky, or hibernate for a week – recharging your batteries for another emotional roller coaster? At TFT we’ve been tracking down fresh writing talent; looking for like-minded cricket fans keen to share their musings. As a result we’ve unearthed this fella, who goes by the name Paul Grin Hopi. We think you’ll like him. He’s penned the following delightfully one-eyed recollections of the Lord’s test. Google his name to read more of the same. Enjoy  ….

When I poured my cereal this morning I half expected lots of tiny Australian batsmen to tumble out of the packet. Their first  innings  cretorama featured  five  free gift wickets. I haven’t been so disappointed since I discovered Shane Warne’s beautiful hair isn’t always in the same room he is. Don’t  expect  this  Aussie Pantsdown Farce to be repeated on TV without a laughter track.

Young Ashton Agar bolted up the pitch like a kid who’d spotted an ice-cream van and ran himself out. Brad Haddin’s Out Ball was a carefully delivered birthday cake to Slip. Phil Hughes flashed his behind. [His Out Ball, that is.] Chris Rogers succumbed to Graeme Swann’s new invention: The waist-high wet fish flopper, thrashing at it like he had a fatal allergy to bees.

DRS showed a review would have reversed the LBW decision: Further evidence of Apocalyptic Ocker Ineptitude at using the device. While homo cricketus australis have indeed ascended to the peak of evolution that enables them to send correct numbers of players onto the field, as well as fashion rudimentary tools from old bails, DRS seems beyond their intellectual grasp. DRS: Dingo Related Speed-dating? No lads.

The Big Mazurka though, was Usman Khawaja’s  lumpen  thud to Kevin Pietersen. Not least because of KP’s superb Marcel Marceau mime. That was tough. The sun was in my eyes. Well done Kev, said his team mates. No, really. The sun was in my eyes. Hey! Come back! Did I tell you the sun was in my eyes?  In years to come Minstrels will sing of Brave Sir Kevin’s Joust With The Gods.

Actually it was a brilliant, running catch. We know you’re good, Kev. Just stop bloody telling us.

So if  Aussie batting was a delightful bouquet of Medieval Socks, what of the bowling? You’d have to say for the most part it threatened with all the breakneck menace of old porridge. Though Steve Smith’s 3-28 did have a bit of snap, crackle and pop about it. Turns out the part-time spinner puts more voodoo on the ball than even Graeme Swann. How do we know this? Sky TV’s amazing new screen Revometer counts ball revolutions. [Next up: A Cretometer  to measure Aussie use of DRS.] But if Stevie spins it so much, how come he’s usually left in the box with the other rubbish toys? Answer: Accuracy. Mr. Smith is just as likely to hit a pig in the next field as get someone out.

Still, he did dismiss England’s primo nebiolo batsman, Ian Bell, twice. Though Brave-Ant did get his own back catching Smith from the v.v.v.v.dang.  Short Arse fielding position.

Which reminds me: How nice of the MCC to allow a schoolboy mascot to carry a bat out to the middle at the start of Day Three. Hang on! That was Joe Root! I hope his mum allowed the Junior Tyke to celebrate his Man Of The Match award  by staying up past his usual 8 p.m. bed-time.

If David Lloyd bumped into him he’d probably say: “I know you from somewhere. Are you in a Boy Band?” Ridiculous? Bumble asked exactly that question of Spurs footballer, Michael Dawson during a 2nd Test break. Though modesty forbids DL from admitting the conversation could just as easily have been the other way round.

Odd how  bowlers  are so precious about opposing batsmen handling the ball. This was illustrated when James Pattinson bounced a Duke into Jonny Bairstow’s right leg pad. He immediately shot the batsman a red hot glance that confirmed Shane Warne’s commentary confirmation of the United Nations Bowling Charter: “You bat. We get the ball.” Never mind the thing had come to rest an Insignificant Imperial Measure away from his googlies. Those familiar with Customs And Excise search procedure will empathise with JB’s apprehension as the Aussie wicket-keeper effected ball retrieval. Thankfully, all ended happily. Though without much foreplay. As far as I could tell.

The preciousness of the ball is further highlighted by selection in both teams of a Head Ball Shiner. Now, in the old days the task of rubbing the pill on one’s inside trouser was passed haphazardly around The Eleven. Not  any  more. Modern application of Darwinian Theory means- as exemplified in Highlander– “There can be only one.”  The  paramount position of Head Ball Shiner can only be awarded a fellow capable  of producing  the vast amounts of sweat, spit and regurgitated sweetcorn necessary to load and imbalance one half of the ball. This means it will do more. Not least induce extreme queasiness in the batsman, as the stinking leather turd streaks towards his head.

The 2nd Test also drew attention to another ancient and honourable art: Nightwatchman.  This is a beautiful conceit unique to cricket.  So I was delighted to see Jimmy Anderson perform the role.  He is the epitome of the Virtuoso Nightwatchman.  I.e. He can just about lean against a bat without falling over. His job was to survive. Thus protecting the wicket of A More Valuable Human being. Good thing James didn’t get thirsty. Most teams would rather put a Nightwatchman down, than waste Expensive Water on them. A demon with the ball, a lemon with the bat, Anderson’s Highlights Reel is a must for anyone studying the Eek! A Mouse! School Of Batsmanship. [If you still  don’t get it: Picture a cat in a James Bond ejector seat.]

Shame then, that England sent on Proper Batsman Tim Bresnan, when the situation again required protection of A Top Wicket. This refusal to use a genuine craftsman in the art of Nightwatchmanship, surely contravenes Union Regulations? Even if it doesn’t, I fear the days of the Nightwatchman may be numbered.

England’s green and pleasant fields were once brim full of  great herds of Nightwatchmen, amiably stumbling into: Each other; Trees ; And cowpats; Mating  with burger vans.  Is Jimmy Anderson the last of his kind? Would you like to sponsor Jimmy Anderson? Send cash to the Cricketing Authorities. Together we can save him. You will receive a Cuddly Nightwatchman Toy and heart-warming photos of Jimmy frollicking around a bar.

Paul Grin Hopi

Paul Grin Hopi is a freelance public nuisance and writer of a trough of other general nonsense you really ought to google if you suffer digestive probs.

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