Sport on TV: After a good stuffing, all I want for Christmas is a fit Freddie
Sunday 23 December 2007
The Test series in Sri Lanka has been like a throwback to the old days. Batsmen grinding out runs, slow over-rates, England playing badly. You wake up with a sense of dread at what has happened overnight, and your Christmas stocking is filled with dropped catches and ridiculous run-outs. That's if Santa hasn't got tangled up in the satellite dish on your chimney.
There are always a few rough knights at this time of year, none more than Sir Ian Botham. These days he even makes Bob Willis seem jolly. Once such an exciting player, he has become a dreadful snorein the early hours. Hisheydays of success and excess have become one long, grumpy hangover Beefy is the new turkey.
With their satellites of monopoly twinkling among the stars, Sky put out a shadow commentary team, and the absence of Mike Atherton and Nasser Hussain has not helped to lift the spirits. Insight has been lacking, which is curious given how many players crop up in the studio even before their career has ended. With Sanath Jayasuriya, like Botham a thrilling player, it was as if Sky forced him to retire after the First Test so they could grab him.
Tiny, softly spoken, mangling his syntax, he is the Yoda of commentators, in contrast to when he was wielding his light sabre Botham is his Chewbacca. Privy to Sri Lanka's gameplan for beating England, Jayasuriya seemed like an interesting acquisition, but he has failed to inspire.
The home studio has been graced by Mark Ramprakash and Andrew Strauss. The latter was dropped for this tour due to lack of form, while the former was touted as his replacement and is still very much a candidate for a recall. But they have both shied away from trenchant criticism, no doubt hoping to regain favour with the England management.
Under Duncan Fletcher's tenure, consistency of selection was the key to success. That was bad news for the outsiders. Bringing back Ramps, though, really would be the ghost of Christmas past.
Andrew Flintoff was on 'Friday Night With Jonathan Ross', reflecting his status as the one true star that English cricket possesses, beyond Ramprakash's sequined suits on the dancefloor. "I'm not a hell-raiser, I'm just unfortunate I keep getting caught," said Freddie. It could have been the old Botham talking, the man whose big stockings Flintoff finally filled.
Flintoff had to explain to Wossie that the last time England won the Ashes before 2005 was Botham's Ashes in 1981. "Obviously you've done your research then," he taunted. Actually it was 1987, Freddie, but never mind. We don't want you back for your brains.
He is taking the winter off in Lancashire, wrapped up in cotton wool in a bid to recover from his career-threatening ankle injury. At least he has avoided the festivities indulged in by the other denizens of Old Trafford. Or maybe, like Sri Lanka, he didn't get caught.
Latest in Sport
Cristiano Ronaldo: Unhappy forward is ready to quit Real Madrid, according to Angel Di Maria
Commonwealth Games 2014: Australia launch Glasgow swimwear - but are criticised for drawing attention to the 'crotch' area
Borussia Dortmund vs Arsenal: Jurgen Klopp concerned with Dortmund injuries and praises signings of Danny Welbeck and Alexis Sanchez
Hull City vs West Ham match report: Enner Valencia stars as honours shared at the KC Stadium
Cristiano Ronaldo to Manchester United: Ramon Calderon claims Real Madrid star is 'fed up'
- 1 Scottish independence: Ireland since 1919 is a lesson for Scotland in what a Yes vote means
- 2 Thailand deaths: Pair's bloodied bodies found naked on Koh Tao beach
- 3 Lego breaks out of the toy box and heads for the gallery
- 4 Julian Assange and Edward Snowden join piracy mogul Kim Dotcom’s political campaign in New Zealand
- 5 Daniele Watts: Django Unchained actress detained by Los Angeles police after being mistaken for a prostitute
Daniele Watts: Django Unchained actress detained by Los Angeles police after being mistaken for a prostitute
The political class is doing what Hitler couldn’t – destroying Britain
Scottish independence: Nationalist leader Jim Sillars threatens pro-union companies with 'day of reckoning' after independence
Scottish independence: Yes campaign feels the heat as Alex Salmond's NHS claims come under furious attack
£23m Birmingham cycle scheme is attacked by Tory councillor for not catering to the elderly
Salmond accused of laughing off national debt with ‘what are they going to do: invade?’ joke
£45000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client based in Chelmsf...
£25000 - £30000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client are cur...
£23500 - £40000 per annum: Randstad Education Plymouth: Randstad Education Ltd...
£60000 - £80000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Corporate Marketing Communications M...