How well deserved, sir, were the awards in the Queen's Birthday Honours List for three of England's finest. Andrew Strauss was elevated to OBE, Andy Flower has become an OBE and indefatigable run-accumulator Alastair Cook becomes an MBE, which may not be the end of it for him.
Nobody could deny that the defeat of Australia last winter merited, nay demanded, such recognition. It is a wonder that the powers-that-be managed to avoid honouring the entire squad as they insisted on doing in 2005 when the Ashes were regained after 16 years. However, it does seem a teensy-weensy bit as though gongs are sprinkled like confetti these days over the heads of our sporting achievers. There is a small list of cricketers who have never been summoned; only two permanent England captains of the past 60 years remain gongless. The first is Tony Greig, whom some would see still as a traitor for giving up the job and throwing in his lot with the breakaway World Series Cricket, and some might view as a hero for increasing the lot and status of cricketers for all time by his actions.
The second is Mike Denness, who led England 19 times, became a match referee and still appears to be being punished either for being a Scot or for his side being pummelled by Dennis Lillee and Jeff Thomson in 1974-75 when the Ashes were lost 4-1. And then there is the case of Alan Knott. It is possible, knowing Knott's good sense, that he has declined all overtures to have letters after his name. But Bob Taylor, the man with whom Knott vied for the England wicketkeeping place for much of his career – and invariably kept out – is an MBE. Other notable omissions are John Snow, long ago Ashes hero, and Mark Ramprakash, still playing at almost 42, the last man to score a hundred hundreds and winner of Strictly Come Dancing to boot. It is about time these chaps were dubbed (Greig should have a knighthood). Nor is it too late. Remember Harold Larwood. Shunned by the establishment after winning the Ashes for them with Bodyline in 1932-33, he was finally made MBE 60 years later.
Letters of complaint
A timely lesson in basic Sinhalese arrives. The different spellings of Sri Lankan names occurs because there is no exact English equivalent for Sinhalese consonants. As Graeme Jackson of Gloucester points out, there are three Ts and two Ds in the Sinhalese alphabet. Hence the name Muralitharan is not the same as Muralidaran. "How the cricketer concerned spells his name on his shirt is how he has preferred to anglicise the spelling of his Sinhala name," he says, and sheds light on Paranavitana as opposed to Paranawithana. "Our difficulty arises from the fact that the Sinhala letter is neither W nor V but is pronounced halfway between the two. He adds: "I would like to say how much it makes me squirm when I hear commentators who cannot be bothered to take the trouble to learn how the various Sinhala names are pronounced. I suppose the cricketers have learned not to expect more from us British, even if, in my experience, they do their best to master the curious pronunciation of ours."
Jimmy's early delivery
Jimmy Anderson bowled the first ball in a Test at the Rose Bowl on Thursday. He also bowled the first ball when the Riverside at Chester-le-Street and Sophia Gardens, Cardiff made their Test bows in 2003 and 2009 respectively. In 1884, Yorkshire's left-arm spinner Ted Peate opened the bowling at Old Trafford and Lord's when they staged their first Tests.
Thunder in the box
Nothing has captured the attention of Sky viewers more than the reappearance of Shane Warne (left) – not just because he is the most acute of pundits, but for his taut, strangely youthful looks. Martyn Jackson of Cramlington thought he was watching a Thunderbirds puppet, the wisdom of cricketing ages being delivered by Scott Tracy. Warne ought to remove the portrait from the attic quickly.