Brian Blessed, I discovered last week while watching the 786th repeat of QI on Dave, once sparred with the Dalai Lama, apparently a keen pugilist. The two met after one of the actor's failed attempts to climb Everest. According to Blessed, the Brian one, they swapped numbers and have stayed in touch, conjuring images of a bruised Blessed leaving his new friend's mountain retreat, bunching his hand into the shape of a phone and yelling: "Dalai, call me." The second most rewarding pairing of the week came in Galle where Tony Greig and Ian Botham were rostered together in the Sky commentary box.
Is there room in the one box for two former England all-rounders who are to self-confidence what Blessed is to gusto? Greig is usually to be found squeezed into an Australian commentary box where it's necessary to shout to be heard. Unlike Sky, who are happily not afraid of silence, the Australians like to have three former Test players on mic at once, which ensures there is never dead air. Greig has always been a shouty commentator, and has always been up in the box since I started watching cricket. His cry, in a guttural Aussie-South African-English, of "got 'im" resonated over many dismissed Englishmen as they trudged back to Australian pavilions during the dark days of Baggy Green domination.
Botham has become the on-sight curmudgeon now that Bob Willis is consigned to the studio (seemingly condemned forever to sit hawkishly in a chair that is too small for him). But there's no harm in that (in Botham being a curmudgeon – there is potential harm in squeezing Willis into a little seat). Greig's addition worked because he is different again to the rest. There was one key player sadly missing. Ian Ward lacks the warmth, charm and class of David Gower. He does, though, manage to ask questions of his guests or make points in less than 1,000 words, which gives more time for Willis to make observations such as Andrew Strauss gave up the one-day captaincy because he was "henpecked at home".
That's not a problem Ian Fletcher, the head of the Olympic Deliverance Commission, suffers with as his wife has thrown him out. Twenty Twelve, the (just about) fictional take on London 2012, returned last week with the first of a two-parter on a brewing row over the Shared Belief Centre at the Olympic Park. Algeria and Morocco are threatening to boycott the Games unless a mosque is built, with the French threatening a counter-boycott if any mosque-type concessions are made. "Multi-culturality is the centre pole in the 2012 tent, which we think is a pretty impressive tent in its own right, but also of London's tent and some would say it's what keeps Britain's tent up today, in fact without that pole, it could be argued, there would not be a centre at all. So that's all good and we take that thought going forward in consultation with our belief partners as we tension the last few guy ropes and tighten the canvas of our plans," said Fletcher. Roll on part two.