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Posts Tagged ‘phil tufnell’

The Twenty20 reaches its conclusion this weekend with the now traditional Finals Day. This year will be the last season of the current format, and will also see the first qualifiers decided for the Champions League after last year’s cancellation.

As well as the exciting prospect of the mascot race being commentated on by Phil Tufnell, the cricket should be of a high standard, with four good sides involved:

  • Somerset, like Kent, are former winners, and the quality of their top order (Trescothick, Langer, Kieswetter…) is beyond question. The bowling is not quite as strong, but if the batsmen make a big enough score that won’t matter too much, and the experience of the older heads will be priceless in the field.
  • Sussex may be missing Matt Prior for Finals Day, but they have quality bowlers in Yasir Arafat and James Kirtley, whilst Luke Wright can make an impact with bat or ball (or both). Defeat in the Friends Provident Trophy final may have sharpened their hunger for success, but Murray Goodwin will need to regain his form if they are to lift the trophy.

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Phil Tufnell has recorded an Ashes-themed ‘song’ to the tune of Two Little Boys. It’s not good. Neil Hannon (of The Divine Comedy) and Thomas Walsh (of Pugwash) have released an album under the name of the Duckworth-Lewis Method, which is better, and also features guest appearances from the likes of Matt Berry, always a bonus.

In the past, the peak of cricket-based music has arguably been Half Man Half Biscuit’s tribute to Fred Titmus, which you can enjoy here, and perhaps Roy Harper’s ‘When An Old Cricketer Leaves the Crease‘. The D-L Method‘s ‘Jiggery Pokery’ (a song about Shane Warne’s ‘ball of the century’ which you can listen to here) could yet lay claim to the title of Greatest Ever Cricket Song, not least because of lyrics such as “I took the crease to great applause and focused on my dinner/ I knew that I had little cause, to fear their young leg spinner”.

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Cricket isn’t the sport it used to be.

Time was, even the most portly of players could find a place in most international sides (and judging by Jesse Ryder and Dwayne Leverock, many still can), and even chain-smokers were thought to have sufficient physical conditioning to bowl for England .

No longer – it seems it’s no longer OK to be an unfit cricketer. Samit Patel has been dropped by England for the forthcoming One Day matches against the West Indies, owing to ‘unsatisfactory fitness‘.

Where does this leave Rob Key? Joking aside (Key has actually slimmed down considerably since his, ahem, peak), the modern game – especially in its limited-overs variants – makes physical demands of players which were never made of the likes of Gatting or Grace, and there should probably be a minimum fitness requirement, even for spin bowlers.

I hope that this doesn’t herald the end of overweight international cricketers, though. In these difficult times, cricket fans everywhere are in need of a few players with the ‘XXL-factor’. Failing that,  I’ll settle for someone who makes the gulf in class between my own pathetic attempts at cricket and the real thing seem just a little less than it actually is. How else can I rationalise my dreams of taking the wicket that clinches the Ashes, or knocking off the winning runs in the World Cup final?

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This is the first in a very occasional series (in no way stolen from the BBC) looking at cult heroes from various cricketing nations. The criteria for selection are entirely made up and subject to change at any time.

  • Ronnie Irani is another player known more in some quarters for his sense of humour than his cricketing achievements. Perhaps remembered best as an England player for making 53 and taking 5-26 in the same match against India, Irani only played in three Test matches, but his transition from Lancashire lad to ‘Mr Essex‘ cemented a loyal following in the South-East (as well as, like Tufnell, a burgeoning media career).

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