Sport on TV: Monty gets home but Roy's boys are caught short

Click to follow
The Independent Online

Monty's dive for the crease to regain his ground on the final afternoon of the Test series in New Zealand (Sky) was one of the highlights of a long winter's sport. But while Panesar provided a panacea to the endless deep freeze and warmed our hearts, England's nosedive in Montenegro saw Roy's boys catch a cold again. If Danny Welbeck's tumble in the penalty area hadn't been deemed a dive, it could have been so different. Anyway, you don't deliberately fall over if, as the hosts' coach had described England's footballers, you are not "running scared".

Not that referee Jonas Eriksson had to worry about the decision he made. As Clive Tyldesley told us early on (ITV, Tuesday): "The man in charge this evening is a millionaire. He can retire at any moment during this game". The commentator could, of course, have been talking about any of the England players, and frankly it seemed like most of them did decide to jack it all in at half-time. As Adrian Chiles observed in the studio at the break: "It all suddenly feels like 'job done', although there's a bit more work to do yet." It was obviously a case of: "Sorry boss, we've given up playing football," in more ways than one.

As the advertising hoardings ticked over, the only surprise was that Hörrmann's Doors supplied entrance and garage doors but didn't have any exits on offer. That's where England were headed.

Meanwhile the crowd pelted them with objects from the stands and Joe Hart in goal was wrapped in toilet paper. "These loo rolls are actually stemming the flow that Montenegro have found at the start of this second half," said Tyldesley in a reasonably inspired moment. What he didn't add was that England were, well, playing like something you might use toilet paper to clean up.

Tyldesley had begun the evening by saying: "Lots of imponderables here", and it seemed a suitable variation on the football theme of "invincibles" as England's hopes went down the drain. Roy Keane didn't take long over the pondering. "Every time I see this England team they let you down in terms of a complete performance," he spat.

As the fans were stirred into a frenzy by the Tannoy announcer, it seemed Keane might rip off his shirt and wade into the crowd. He's not used to people shouting him down, and his contributions and the atmosphere they create in the ITV studio have become almost more absorbing than the football.

The best is when he rolls up his notes and smacks them against his palm while Gareth Southgate flinches. If any England players are pondering international retirement and a cushy number in the studio, they had better think again.

* In the new series of James May's Man Lab (BBC2, Thursday) the Top Gear presenter had to commentate on the Grand National for the Beeb's red-button punters. "A job requiring brilliant memory, expertise and nerves of steel," he gushed. Good job he didn't have to ride one of the horses.

He employed the help of memory expert Dominic O'Brien, who told him to imagine the runners and riders as a round of golf, with all its different fairways and greens. Then some horses dropped out and the field changed at the last minute. He was thwarted by one handicap after another.

  • More about:
  • Itv