Dear Courtney Walsh

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Indy Lifestyle Online
Go ahead, rub it in. Our national fortunes are at a low enough ebb, God knows. Our Government is a laughing stock; everybody's freezing to death in the snow; Torvill and Dean (sorry, Jayne 'n' Chris) went for gold and came home with bronze; vicious flu has been stalking the land; Middlemarch has finished; England's invincible rugby heroes were buried at Twickers; and then what? Just when we thought that Michael Atherton's new-look England cricket team had a chance of making a decent fist of things out in the Caribbean, you have to come steaming in and ruin it all.

Listen, we know you're the best, OK? We know perfectly well that cricket is a West Indian game that happened, by a meaningless historical quirk, to be discovered by the English. So you don't have a thing to prove.

There was a time, I know, when cricket in the West Indies was an exhilarating way of gloating over the frailties of the former colonial tyrant - still is, in a way. But those days have passed. The West Indies have been lording it over English cricket for so long now most of us can't remember anything different. As top dogs, you carry the white man's burden, if you know what I mean. Be a bit gentle with our lads, is all I'm saying. Chuck them the odd easy lob occasionally. They only want to join in.

I caught the odd drib and drab of yesterday's play between the adverts on Sky (that is, I was glued to my screen - a drib here and a drab there is all we are offered), and it wasn't so much the wickets you took as the way you had our brave boys hopping and jumping and arching their backs. These photographs of English batsmen in mid-air, heads twisted back like dogs jumping for birds, has become the standard image of Caribbean cricket over here.

And it's got to end. Your own board of control is beside itself with worry. These days, they can't sell tickets to anything after the third day of a Test match for any price. English players spent the whole of last season rehearsing for four-day cricket; perhaps they should go back to three.

Cricket is, of course, a famously funny game, and it can turn on a sixpence. Probably this is why yesterday's scoreboard made such depressing reading. For half a day, the Test looked like a match, but as soon as you started digging the ball in on the third afternoon, it all went up in smoke. Thanks a bunch.


(Photograph omitted)