Sport on TV: Cricket should rise from the Ashes but what are the odds?

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The Independent Online

So instead of the Pakistan team being booted out, it's England who are off to Boot Camp. After the last game of an interminably long and often abrasive summer, Sir Ian Botham and Viscount Gower looked suitably aghast in the Sky Sports studio, as if England's management weren't good enough to shine their shoes. Surely the boot should be on the other foot? Were it not for the fact that a Boot Camp in Pakistan might lead to the only thing worse than match-fixing: international terrorism.

Andy Flower, England's estimable coach, said it was "a camp designed to educate all of us, to give us a good sense of perspective on things, to allow the guys to become more self-aware, to understand each other better. And it'll be a lot of fun in a quirky sort of way." At which point he cracked a rare, indeed quirky sort of smile, which must have chilled the players even more than the winter that lies ahead. The camp "is there to broaden minds" before the Ashes campaign, but that's not something the Aussies have ever been bothered about. Broaden bats might have been a better idea.

So as a broader than Broad England – Jimmy Anderson's gay cover shot included – contemplated their most important series for 25 years (broadly speaking) and did so, unlike their footballing counterparts, without the attentions of any broads, what will become of Pakistan?

"We have to tackle this subject aggressively and with honesty," said Ramiz Raja. "Strong administration at every level, make sure the players are well-groomed. It's not an easy thing because fans are passionate about this team and it's not easy to convince them that they've gone wrong somewhere." Right, so blame the fans now. But that wasn't all. "It's not just a Pakistani problem, it's a sub-continent problem, it's a world problem." There's a World Cup coming up, so let's indulge in some world-class buck-passing.

Shoaib Akhtar had put it more succinctly when asked the same question by Mark Nicholas on Channel Five's highlights of Monday's game: "What we've got to do is win games." Quite right, and as Abdul Razzaq smacked 40 runs off 10 balls, it was good to have someone like that around who could make up for any mid-innings stodginess. Pakistan don't need to fix a match any more; they can spot-fix parts of it and still have the talent to win. What more could you ask for from a contemporary cricket team?

Nicholas just grinned inanely. After all, the only thing he knows about match-fixing is when he holds a dinner party for an extremely posh nephew to try and get him a date. That's the fellow who sits there and greets every course with the words "Gee wiz" and "crikey" and "wowser".

* Those weren't quite the expletives to be heard on Rory and Paddy's Even Greater British Adventure (Channel Five, Monday) when the intrepid pair tried their hand at some of Scotland's more obscure sports. Free fencing with a broadsword, flounder-tramping – that's a fish, not a Glaswegian drinking game – and the Glen Nevis River Race, which involved floating down a furious, rock-strewn stream on a lilo for an hour. "Not now please," said Rory McGrath, "you can't film a man shitting himself." Well, this is Channel Five, so don't bet against it.

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