"It's been a harrowing week," said Charles Colvile at the start of the Second Test in Abu Dhabi (Sky Sports). Rumour has it that Sir Ian Botham has given up drinking, but in this strange world of doosras, teesras and mirages, it's hard to know what to believe. It seems the England middle-order has taken up the challenge of drinking Beefy's share. The way they play Saeed Ajmal's variations, their heads must be spinning as they literally fall over themselves to get out to him.
Botham may have given up the booze in the desert – it's as good a place as any to dry out – because he got the hump over Monty Panesar spilling his drink every time he came charging through the bar celebrating his England recall. In fact the decision – to play Panesar, not give up the grog – was not made until 9.15 on the morning of the match after a lengthy examination of the playing surface. Ramiz Raja revealed all: "Even last night they were all out on the piss." They were probably all out, but he surely must have meant "pitch".
Beefy's sobriety seems to be getting to everyone. Even the Barmy Army are not marching on their prodigious stomachs. There aren't many of them out there and their parched mouths have made their singing more desultory.
Even the high-pitched warbler who usually favours endless repetitions of "The Lion Sleeps Tonight" seems to have been replaced by a rather bizarre, wobbly castrato. One must hope no append-ages have been chopped off, though the Barmy Army will have to be on their best behaviour in the Emirates. Drunk in charge of too much exposed flesh is not an ideal combination.
Perhaps the travelling fans could do with a little help from Monty, who revealed he does a mean Bruce Springsteen impersonation. The Boss could learn a thing or two from Panesar, too. When he windmills his arm at a fretful moment on the guitar he hasn't got anything on a full Monty celebration. Baby, he was born to run around like a lunatic.
Monty was so delirious after he snuck one through Younus Khan's defences that he managed a classic Springsteen leap, sideways on, knees high. Meanwhile England's close catchers have been screeching and moaning so incessantly while Monty has been wheeling away that they could make passable backing singers for any popular beat combo.
Meanwhile wicketkeeper Adnan Akmal's lime-green-and-blue gloves, combined with the fluorescent green stumps, are making the middle look like a crime scene. The track turned square from day one, so it would have been no surprise if the pitch inspectors were called in. But really it's the England batsmen's reactions that are suspect rather than the Pakistan spinners' actions.
So Katarina Witt reduced Chemmy Alcott to tears in Dancing on Ice (Sunday, BBC1) by saying: "I am begging you to not do those lifts. I really don't want to see you up there. You are a pretty big woman." Apparently the German figure-skater meant she was tall and it was supposed to be a compliment. As if being our only half-decent Olympic skiing prospect wasn't a heavy enough burden to carry, she happens to be one of the few genuine pin-ups in British sport. Another example of that infamous German wit.Reuse content