Cricketer's Diary: Lost time off for bad behaviour

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WEDNESDAY

In a basement room in Broadcasting House recording an edition of County Talk for transmission tomorrow during the tea interval of the Test. Last year at Southampton a spectator listening to the radio queried how it was possible for me to be talking in his earpiece and fielding at long leg simultaneously. Discussion with other participants, Nick Cook, Mark Nicholas and Graeme Fowler, centres on the success or otherwise of four-day cricket. General consensus is it's too early to draw conclusions but the new system has certainly allowed some time off. Kevin Curran has already had the chance of a mid-season break in Zimbabwe, Alan Fordham in Dublin. Vilification of 50-over Sunday League also unanimous, particularly as it comes immediately before the fourth day of a championship match.

THURSDAY

11am: Watching first morning of Test, sympathise with Mark Ilott. In the original 12, then still doesn't make the team despite injury to another bowler. Can't do his confidence much good. Can see why Gower isn't in the side. He hasn't made many runs in county cricket and I can't see enough concentration nowadays for him to make a big score. 5pm: News filters through that Gower is 150 not out at Trent Bridge. Some expert I am.

FRIDAY

Second day of Championship match at Leicester. The ground has improved immeasurably since the days when they played football on it and there is a smart new stand. Lunches, however, still as unpalatable as ever. Tinned boiled potatoes, chewy meat and bottles of fizzy orange full of sediment. One year when I was served a meagre portion of soup I asked what flavour it was. 'Oxtail, oxtail,' said the waitress. 'But it barely covers the bottom,' I said. 'It didn't do much more for the ox,' she replied.

Leicester's Winston Benjamin is a talented West Indian with whippy pace off about four different run-ups, and an ability to throw with either arm and hit sixes with one hand. Had he ever been coached, I asked? 'I was sent to Alf Gover's for two weeks when I was 18, but they kept telling me to bowl side-on, play straight, so after three days I left,' he said. Watched highlights of Test which were excellent apart from hopeless interchange between Ian Chappell and Geoff Boycott at the end. While Chappell gloated, Boycott looked embarrassed. Maybe he's been watching England too much.

SATURDAY

Have to feel sorry for Mike Gatting, undone by two brilliant pieces of bowling in the Test. The only good thing is that the Old Trafford dressing room door is never shut.

MONDAY

One of England's problems might be the cosmopolitan nature of the team. This can't help with desire and morale, and is bound to make individuals ever so slightly more selfish. The Australians on the other hand have a much clearer identity and epitomise the all for one, one for all approach. They are more aggressive too. Two England batsmen were out when deliveries they repelled still had enough venom to trickle back on to the stumps. Andy Caddick, by contrast, was allegedly told to 'just put it there' in the first innings and bowled innocuously as a result.

TUESDAY

Naughty boy nets for Durham. We will do anything to win a game, so would England.

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