Will Hawkes: Too much INXS and plenty of Floyd adds up to a tedious gig
View From The Sofa: Cricket AM, Sky Sports 1
Monday 06 June 2011
There's only one band that can be honestly described as "Aussie rock legends", and it isn't INXS. As Cricket AM's unrelentingly perky presenter Sarah-Jane Mee used that phrase on Saturday morning, I surely wasn't alone in expecting to see a short man in short trousers and his big, bellowing Geordie mate bumble on screen. But no. Instead of AC/DC, we got INXS – a band who had a couple of hits about 20 years ago and whose most interesting member is long dead – wandering in, looking like nothing so much as a Duran Duran tribute act.
Still, they seemed like genial fellows and, if they didn't quite fit the billing, at least they weren't actively tedious. The same cannot be said for much of the rest of Cricket AM, a show that, as its name confirms, was born out of the need to fill the summer-sized gap left by its football counterpart. It is very similar: there's lots of whooping, montages set to dismal indie rock, and the sure knowledge that everyone involved – the viewers, the presenters, the guests – should be doing something more valuable with their time.
A lack of imagination permeates proceedings. Segments included Nasser Hussain picking his world Test XI (yawn), a look back at the Cardiff Test and a basketball player trying, haplessly and inexplicably, to break the world distance record for throwing a cricket ball. The second of these items involved mocked-up newspaper front pages – so we had "Cooking on gas" as we saw Alastair Cook's ton in the first Test. Disappointingly, this punnery went missing for Jonathan Trott, who just got "Double ton hero". Did no-one suggest "Trott a lot of runs"?
Like Soccer AM, Cricket AM involves a big group of bellowing lads. Thurrock CC were the guests on Saturday, and a very typical cricket club they seemed. Quizzed as to their approach to the game, one of them said: "We like the social side of things: we play hard, and then play harder in the bar afterwards." I can only assume he was referring to a few games of gin rummy, which I know from experience can quickly get out of hand.
There is a competition, too. There is always a competition. The prize was two tickets to INXS's gig in London in a week's time – second prize was four tickets. Just kidding. Punters had to guess how many times Thurrock would hit a big pair of stumps from what looked suspiciously short of the required 22 yards in, oh I can't remember. Probably 60 seconds.
That wasn't the dullest thing about Saturday's show, though. That was when presenter Matt Floyd did some exercises, ostensibly to get in shape for a cricket match later in the summer. This would be OK if Floyd was a porker, but he's clearly in remarkably good shape, as he proved by flexing his biceps at the end of the segment. Guest Tim Bresnan, sitting nearby, looked suitably impressed.
If Floyd is ripped, as I believe Californians and young people put it, then his presenting skills need some work. He has a tendency to put the emphasis on the wrong word in the sentence. Thus, "Muttiah Muralitharan is the VERY first entry into the Cricket AM Hall of Fame". Weird, eh? He also introduced a segment called "Hangtime", whereby the amount of time a skied shot stays in the air is measured, with the phrase: "You'll be delighted to hear that Hangtime IS back." I wasn't. For the record, this week's shot stayed up for about six seconds. It felt a lot, lot longer than that.
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