Chris Maume: Sport on TV

Aussies out of this world, if not quite from another planet
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The Independent Online

When American golfers were too good for the Brits, the fix was easy: ask the Irish along. And when that didn't work (though I'm sure the partying improved), there was a spot of horizon widening to take in the rest of Europe. Game on. But with Australian cricketers so clearly beyond the reach of the other 6.4 billion people on the planet (in fact it was 6,471,122,723 at 10.30am yesterday, according to the World Population Clock on the US Census website), where else is there to go? Make it Australia v the Rest of the Solar System? Call up XxzQgrxq KkTwqzzx, the legendary but booze-sodden Venusian leggie, to bamboozle Ricky Ponting and Co?

I'm not entirely sure what the point is of the current "Super" Series taking place Down Under. On Wednesday (Sky Sports 1) the good people of Melbourne were equally unimpressed, and the Telstra Dome crowd was on the empty side of sparse. Unfortunately, I chose then to watch and not yesterday, when Adam Gilchrist went bonkers and knocked off the fastest century ever seen in his country, while Freddie Flintoff was hammered for 64 in eight overs.

Putting the day's desultory proceedings into perspective, Tony Greig in the commentary box remembered his experiences representing the Rest of the World in January 1972, when Garry Sobers was captain and led by heroic example with a double-century at the MCG - the greatest innings Don Bradman had ever seen, he said. "Were you there when he made his 254?" Nicholas asked Greig "I batted with him," Greig said. "Not for very long, but I batted with him." He couldn't keep the self-preening from his voice, but who could blame him?

There were no such heroics on Wednesday after the Aussies had made 255 for 8. Kevin Pietersen came in at 75 for 4 to face Brett Lee. He was walking in the opposite direction a few minutes later after a ball that Hawkeye said was never leg before. And though Flintoff fared slightly better with his 38, the second-highest score for the Rest, this viewer's pulse stubbornly refused to quicken.

You knew it wasn't going to be the Rest's day right at the start of their innings when Virender Sehwag was caught for six off the bowling of Glenn McGrath, the man whose absence at crucial times arguably secured the Ashes for England. Then Brett Lee, McGrath's weasel-faced pace partner, pitched in, and a home win became a virtual shoo-in (and a shoeing).

Before Greig's commentary, Richie Benaud had kicked things off, and he was succeeded by the redoubtable Bill Lawry. Then the floorboards began to vibrate, and a strangely soothing, sub-woofer low-end bass sound filled the room. Ah, Michael Holding. Listening to him is like sticking your head in the speakers at a Barry White gig, and his contribution was all but the highlight of a distinctly underwhelming day.

Speaking of stuff not living up to its billing, I didn't have space last week to do a verbal Cantona on the opening episode of Mike Bassett: Manager. After casually tossing away yet another little chunk of my life, watching rubbish so you don't have to, I am able to report that the second episode (ITV1, Thursday) was equally dismal. Ricky Tomlinson, get a new agent.

The plot (ha!) revolved around a Dutch player who couldn't speak a word of English. How pathetic is that? They speak it better than we do. Somewhere on the planet there's probably a professional footballer who can't speak a single word of it (apart from "Jordan", obviously). But I can guarantee that he won't be from the Netherlands. Mike Bassett: Manager? Mike Bassett: Total Disaster.