Sport on TV: Shot in the dark leaves Athers and friends at sixes and sevens
Sunday 09 May 2010
Not wishing to rain on the parade of all those fine, upstanding politicians in the General Election but as the hours dragged on and a "No result" verdict became more and more likely, could we not have called on the Duckworth-Lewis method to decide who would rule the country? It's a controversial system involving algorithms that no one understands, so surely it's the perfect accompaniment to an obscure and hugely unfair system like First Past The Post.
While the rain lashed down in the Caribbean as England took on West Indies at the World Twenty20 (Sky Sports 1, Monday) there was a lot of time to fill for the old pros back in their London studio against a backdrop of palm tree wallpaper. Mike Atherton may be the most perceptive of pundits when it comes to Test cricket but he would never get picked for a Twenty20 team, and he came across as being so out of touch that he probably needed his moat cleaned; more duckhouse than Duckworth.
Discussing the technical skill involved in Eoin Morgan's reverse-sweeps and switch-hits, headboy Athers said: "Don't go out tomorrow when you're playing for your school and try to play a shot like that. It takes a lot of practice." Doesn't he realise they don't play cricket in schools anymore? Doesn't he know that no one actually goes to school these days?
For Atherton and Co, the long hard slog was watching them bat, not the way they batted. Twenty20 has brought many new and exciting aspects into the game, so it's no surprise to find the experts dumbfounded when, say, five Australian wickets fall in the last six balls against Pakistan.
Another old assumption must surely be laid to rest now, too: the luck of the Irish. As if Thierry Henry's handball had not been enough, their elimination on Tuesday because it was raining in the Caribbean – when they needed just 120 to win on the kind of cabbage-patch pitch they play on every week, but one which England's flat-track bullies were unable to fathom – ranks right up there with rank injustice. And just to rub it in when it came to the rub of the green, England's only performer was a Dubliner.
Anchorman Ian Ward, who would regularly drop anchor in his batting days, was moved to apologise for "some of the rather choice language of the Irish", again portraying the old guard as fuddy-duddy. He obviously had no idea of the choice phrases emanating from sofas all over England.
Kevin O'Brien resorted instead to a strange send-off whenever an England batsman was dismissed: wiggling his fingers in front of his forehead like some kind of lunatic fringe. The fiery fast bowler Steve Kirby once cryptically greeted Atherton with the words "I've seen better batsmen in my fridge". No one got that. Perhaps he meant "fringe".
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