A well-dressed man stood up on my bus yesterday morning and brightly informed his fellow passengers not to worry. The world might have not ended as promised, he declared, but it would soon, so just hang on in there. That will come as a relief to the Premier League as it would mean not having to make all those cash-consuming parachute payments.
That air of indefatigable optimism, albeit with a Pythonesque twist, is a feature in sporting dressing rooms – apart from Upton Park of course – and it also appears to have a home in the One Show studio. I say appears because I have only seen the One Show once. It is necessary to make that clear because there are some programmes it does not do to admit to watching and OS stands alongside You're On Sky Sports and ITV's Sing If You Can, officially the worst show ever made. The problem with that is I have no idea whether Phil Tufnell's appearance on my one viewing of the One Show was a one-off. The presenters Alex Jones and Matt Baker – it has the air of Blue Peter for grown-ups living in Surbiton – greet everyone with warm familiarity so it was difficult to tell how much of regular Tuffers is.
The former England cricketer owes his presence on our screens not to what he did as an England cricketer but rather to his ability to stay cheery and look on the bright side as he chewed his way through platters of bemused bugs in the Australian jungle. It took him beyond his sport, which remains a rare happening, especially where cricketers are concerned. Tuffers' One Show brief was to go and see a man who had painted the inside of his house to look like the Sistine Chapel. He took a critic with him to judge the work of the self-taught artist – who bore a striking resemblance to a cross-breeding of Cliff Richards and Barry Richards, the Seventies versions. It was all a bit Esther Rantzen only with less teeth.
Cliff/Barry, Tuffers' questioning revealed, had never been to Rome. "You should get yourself there," advised the man of the world who once dismissed India with the timeless phrase "Done the elephants, done the poverty. Now I'm off home."
It may not make a Bafta imminent, although if Robbie Savage can win an award for wittering on the radio anything is possible, but at least he is on TV, which is more than Shane Warne. Warne has some 600 more Test wickets than Tufnell, but that counts for nothing in the cut-throat world of fluffy TV. Warne's chat show was ditched Down Under before the end of its run earlier this year because it was, apparently, rubbish. That unfortunately is not a looming fate for the One Show.
Warne's farewell to the sport he has graced was low key, partly because when watching the IPL it is tricky to make out the game itself amid the plethora of advertising that envelops it. A six is referred to by commentators as a "DLF maximum" after the competition's sponsors, a rebranding exercise that will set the Premier League dreaming of Fizzy Drink Free Kickzz and Pop Tart Penalties.
Warne looks leaner than he did in his proper-cricket-playing heyday and his bowling in the four overs he was allowed does not appear to have obviously taken a turn for the worse, as Muttiah Muralitharan's had come the end of the World Cup. Warne has thrown himself as enthusiastically as ever into the IPL but it is an event that is impossible to warm to, certainly on TV and, to judge by debates on Indian news channels, one that locals too are treating as more a trip to the circus than an all-consuming passion, like, say, the end of the world.Reuse content