Robin Scott-Elliot: Lloyd takes bull by the horns in Twenty20 cow corner
View From The Sofa: ProBull Riding/World Twenty20, Extreme Sports/Sky
Monday 15 June 2009
Cow corner means different things to different people. To David Lloyd, it's an area of the field where the less talented cricketer, and Dimitri Mascarenhas, aims a suitably agricultural heave. To Gordon Brown, it's where Hazel Blears sits (her resemblance to Gordon Strachan is unnerving). To David Blunkett, it's trouble. And to a Texan it's an excuse to strap on the chaps, saddle up and get bucked.
ProBull Riding is not for the faint-hearted, but faint heart never won fair nomination for the Ring of Honor, which is the enticing reward on offer for the best bull riders, or bull sitters as they are sometimes known. Here is a sport with a tangible history. It's surely worth presuming that Sitting Bull was so named for his expertise in taming the beasts rather than, say, because he resembled a male cow in repose.
It makes for lively viewing, the riders hanging on for dear life as the bulls bounce around the arena. It's all quintessentially American, with most riders rising to one knee, after they've been flung to the ground, to thank the dear Lord for not getting the horn. And most American of all, there is an utter obsession with stats. The bulls are scored as well as the riders and take their place in a league table – Nervous Waters lives down to his unflattering name with a frankly pathetic 47 per cent Buck-off, while if you find yourself on Mr Payne expect to come off every time, my friend.
The winner of the Albuquerque event (unfortunately neither McKennon Wimberly or Skeeter Kingsolver were up to the mark) was rewarded with a Winchester rifle – the gun that won the West, thank you very much.
Cricket's cow corner has been busy over the last couple of weeks, as no area of the field is safe during Twenty20. It must be a nightmare for the cameramen, with top edges, hoicks and paddles flying unpredictably all over the place. The commentary has not been quite as haphazard, although it is not up to the usual standards of Sky's cricket. This is largely because it is a scratch side and, as anyone who has been watching the Lions will know, licking different nations into one team is no easy task. Commentators from around cricket's globe have been divided up among Sky's regulars and the chemistry is gone, which can actually make for happy moments of bafflement as different nations attempt to understand each other. No one causes more international confusion than the ever excellent David Lloyd, who through his broad Lancastrian veers startlingly between auditioning to become a Peter Kay character – "It's Albie Morkel's birthday tomorrow, if we knew it were coming, we'd have baked a cake" – and a shrewd forecaster of a game he knows as well as anyone through years of playing, umpiring, coaching and just watching. The Morkel bake was followed by a pained silence in the commentary box as they leapt to avoid the drifting tumbleweed.
The best thing about Lloyd is an unquenchable enthusiasm for his sport, which includes the crucial ingredients of a sense of fun and place so often lacking in his footballing counterparts on the same channel. Or to put it another way, he is not afraid of being a silly moo.
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