There seems to be an acknowledgement that England's Test series in New Zealand isn't particularly interesting. In a double Ashes year this might be understandable. The highlights on Sky Sports are only an hour long instead of two, and in the live transmission David Lloyd is on a campaign to keep viewers awake: "What time is it now? Twenty past 11? Have some discipline. Make a cup of coffee!" He's as manic as the White Rabbit in Alice in Wonderland, but when he pops down the hole again to go Down Under next winter he won't need to keep reminding us to keep our eyes open for the Ashes.
The coverage is sponsored by something called the Fujitsu Heat Pumps Speedball, which sounds like a drug that will keep you up all night. In fact the action has been fascinating, and Lloyd is underestimating the slow-burning drama of the five-day format – surprisingly so, since Sky in the UK have done more than anyone else to promote Test cricket while most of the rest of the world is switching off.
Watching Cook, Compton and Trott compile attritional centuries is enough to put anyone to sleep, but that doesn't detract from the importance of their achievements.
In Wellington on the second morning (Sky Sports 1, Wednesday) there was a fascinating "game of cat and mouse" between Kevin Pietersen and the left-arm spinner Bruce Martin, during which Bumble saw fit to regale us with details of his "quiet night in": "I got some monkfish, salad, a glass of wine and some Jethro Tull," he enthused. It's a surprise the cat didn't leave the mouse alone and wander off to have a look through Bumble's bins.
The Kiwi pundit Simon Doull wasn't sure what Lloyd had meant when he said he was going off to his hotel room to "have a monkfish". And what sort of a beast is a Jethro Tull anyway? Lloyd was soon going on about Inspector Monkfish in The Fast Show, and he had lost Doull completely. It was getting more surreal than anything Lewis Carroll could have dreamt up. Perhaps the good inspector could shed light on the mystery.
Then Lloyd introduced another subject that would be of interest to a Lancashire cat, if not a Cheshire one: "I've got some sad news about the duck, the one we saw on its lonesome yesterday." He referred to a fowl that had dominated the cameras' attention as England crawled along on the first day. "Its mate was hit by a cricket ball and passed away." Perhaps he was merely covering up the fact that he would be preparing a nice little canard à l'orange in his room later.
* Watching Oscar Pistorius: What Really Happened (BBC3, Monday), you had to wonder how much more we can find out about this murky business before it even gets to trial. So here, in typically louche BBC3 fashion, we were regaled with tales of guns going off in restaurants, a pair of white tigers, crashing speedboats and the Blade Runner tweeting he had once gone "into full combat recon mode" when he heard his washing machine going.
So it seems there is indeed much more to come out. Here he is also alleged to have threatened to break the legs of former footballer Mark Batchelor after a row about women. Whether he is found guilty or not, it looks like Pistorius is likely to be a bachelor himself for quite some time to come.
- More about:
- Alternative Energy (renewable)
- Sky Sports