Sport on TV: Now it is hit or miss for counties' bean-counters chase the dream ticket
Sunday 15 June 2008
A bunch of prima donnas obsessed by money, trying desperately to catch the eye of the scouts. Throwing themselves around, backchatting match officials, employing the full gamut of histrionics. Yes, our county cricketers are getting almost as bad as the footballing elite at Euro 2008.
But who can blame them for their Twenty20 visions? Last weekend the trundlers and nurdlers of Wantage Road and Sophia Gardens had to be defibrillated after hearing they could earn $5m per team in the slap-and-giggle Champions' League. By Wednesday evening that figure had leapt up to $1m per man if they could somehow sneak their way into the England team for a single match against Sir Allen Stanford's Exhibition XI. At this rate, even Stephen Harmison might pull his finger out.
As the Twenty20 Cup kicked off on Sky Sports, the sight of county cricket's much-derided journeymen trying to make themselves stand out from the crowd has been rather shocking. But not as unnerving as the spectacle of Stanford, a Texas oil billionaire, landing his chopper on the Nursery Ground at Lord's and the English cricket bigwigs greeting him with a suitcase full of £50 notes. It was another indication of how the cricket world has gone completely insane.
Sky's Ian Ward pointed out that their competition is "the original, and the best". Home-grown young players have their chance to make an instant name – and fortune – for themselves without having to serve an apprenticeship in the tortuous trade of Test cricket. But David Lloyd is counting the mistakes that the teams make. Sussex made 13 mistakes on Wednesday, Kent 12; Kent won off the last ball. As the competition's climax draws near, the sheer value of that dropped dolly or no-ball will make all cricketers colour their clothing.
* England may not be at Euro 2008 but David Pleat is there to entertain us with his faulty grasp of foreign names. The retirement of France's Bixente Lizarazu – also known as Lizazaru, Lirazazu, Lizuzaraz – was a sad day for Pleat fans, but fortunately Italy's Mauro Camoranesi stepped into the breach. Camonaresi, Caronamesi... the possible permutations are endless. It may be unspeakable to suggest such a thing, but let's hope Italy stay in the tournament just to hear some more of David's enigmatic variations.
Meanwhile Garth Crooks interviewed an Austrian horoscope specialist to put to the test the France coach Raymond Domenech's obsession with star signs when he picks his teams. The sound gave out halfway through the report, which was a huge relief. But surely someone should have foreseen that eventuality. Perhaps they just pulled the plug on Garth. Some of his rambling questions are so long that you really can't predict if they are ever going to end.
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