Robin Scott-Elliot: First catch your dodo

Sport on TV: First catch your dodo then spice with joie de vivre
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The Independent Online

Charles Colville springs from that rare breed who can enthuse about a Monday evening in Derby. Which is just as well, as that is Colville's lot these days. Once the happy frontman of Sky's cricket, Colville now turns out for the 2nd XI, bundled off to watch the Pro40 League's anonymous meander around the shires. He is one of a dying breed, a professional commentator rather than a retired sportsman, eking out a living from a soon to be extinct competition; the last of the Mohicans, in a branded polo shirt, dashing eagerly off on a dodo hunt.

That's not to say that it isn't at times enjoyable viewing – the Pro40, not the dodo hunt – with Monday's run-filled frenzy between Derbyshire and Essex (Sky Sports 1) a prime example. But there was no getting away from that dodo. "It's still not a patch on Twenty20" seemed the mantra of the commentary box, an extraordinary admission from a Sky outfit where everything on screen is usually exclusively brilliant.

Colville never played first-class, let alone Test, cricket – although you picture him turning up to each game with his fully equipped coffin just in case – and when his time is up he will be replaced by someone who has to complete Sky's weighty line-up. The first XI are undeniably excellent and well balanced, from the engaging battiness of David Lloyd to Michael Atherton's quiet authority, yet you can't help but admire Colville and his relentless quest to watch and enjoy a sport he still clearly adores. When Colville is finally deemed surplus to requirements he should bottle this sporting joie de vivre and distribute it around the Match of the Day team.

Gordon Ramsay never appears short of joie de vivre, although he probably would not put it quite like that. Ramsay's football career was ruined by injury and then, as he did put it, a "big kick in the bollocks," which described his release by Rangers rather than the injury. In The F Word (Channel 4), Ramsay returned to the club to whip up a simple, healthy lunch for the boys in blue: poached, sautéd chicken breast with bean salad and roasted fennel. Cue raised eyebrows in the Sunderland manager's office.

The Rangers assistant manager was there to act as sous-chef. Ally McCoist had played alongside Ramsay in the youth ranks. "He was a competitive so-and-so," recalled McCoist diplomatically and without the use of the Ramsay vernacular the description was crying out for. Also on hand in the kitchen was Barry Ferguson, the club's captain and a man for whom nutmeg most definitely involves a ball and legs rather than anything spicier. "Do you cook?" barked Ramsay. "My wife cooks," riposted Ferguson. Cue appreciative grunts in the Sunderland manager's office. Ramsay was unmoved. "Let's go and make the vinaigrette, Barry."

Ramsay headed to Ibrox. He stood and looked wistfully around the stands before reliving the termination of his fledgling football career. "We'll keep an eye on you," promised Rangers as they ushered him out the door. "It was a polite 'fuck off'," interpreted Ramsay. Much like being sent to Derby.

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