Shane Warne is half the man he was.
England's cricket is so good at the moment, he would struggle to get in the team even if, after swapping the barbecue for the Barbie doll, he no longer struggles to get into a pair of elasticated slacks. It was different when he was in his pomp, of course, but now it's all about sex appeal rather than lbw appeal, and his twirly stuff is done in front of Liz Hurley's mirror. As for warm-up stretches, those would be for his face.
As the England tail-enders were destroying India's bowlers on the fourth morning at Trent Bridge (Sky Sports 1, Monday), the spin legend reverted to his old self. "You could have a side order of French fries with his bowling, and some garlic bread," he said. "Hold the Caesar salad and give me a big plate because I want to help myself at the buffet." You could almost hear his stomach rumbling.
During the lunch interval, his glamorous paramour may have been on the phone to remind him of his diet. After Jimmy Anderson had dismissed VVS Laxman with a ball that went like a leg-break, he called the delivery "a jaffa, a peach...what a cherry!". Not a pizza delivery any more, but at least he didn't mention the goji-berry shakes.
Shane's last game may have been a massive payday with the Indian Premier League last winter but right now he looks like he has been travelling around India in his gap year. If the gaps are growing wider, however, the cracks aren't showing in his punditry. The same may not be true of Mark Ramprakash, whose brooding good looks looked darker and more sinister when he presented the Verdict in the Sky Sports studio on Sunday night.
The previous day, he had become the first batsman in England for 48 years to be given out for obstructing the field while playing for Surrey at Cheltenham, and he was given a one-match ban by his county for showing "serious dissent" to the umpires over their adjudication. By the next day he was making Bob Willis look like the happiest man in the world.
They were discussing the furore about the India captain MS Dhoni's decision to call back Ian Bell during the tea interval. He had rather cruelly run Bell out while the batsman wandered out of his ground in search of a brew and a biscuit. It was the umpires, not Bell or Dhoni, who came in for scrutiny by Ramprakash – not that he had an axe to grind, though by the look of him he may have had one under the desk.
Because Bell had left the playing arena he should have been beyond recall, but the officials allowed him to resume his innings. "The trouble is," muttered Ramps, "do the umpires go on common sense or do they bend the rules?" Presumably it was a goodwill gesture from the umpires, but he could only see the dark side. He ranted on: "Do they bend the rules when Harbhajan Singh gets an inside edge [for an lbw] in Broad's hat-trick? Everyone in the ground thought he got an inside edge."
Fair enough, but if everyone knew, then surely England should have called Harbhajan back. Perhaps they would have done if it had been after the Bell incident, although Stuart Broad would definitely not have been happy. Ramprakash, of course, likes to interpret the laws strictly, but there's no need to make a song and dance about it. The men in white will be coming for him shortly.Reuse content