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January 2009
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Cookie: Vice-captaincy, banter and me

January 29th, 2009 by Alan Tyers in Alan Tyers, England and tagged , , ,

From The Desk (Unofficial) Of Vice Captain (Unofficial) Alastair Cook FEC

I’m writing to you from my unofficial office at the back of the changing room, which someone has helpfully written ‘FEC’ all over, as well as some messages in Afrikaans which I am sure are very supportive.

It’s flattering, but at the moment my job is just to help Straussy in any way I can. He says it’s important that I get a 50-odd and then get back in the dressing room sharpish “to try and keep the fellows from tearing each other limb from limb” and that’s what I aim to do.

There’s certainly a lot to take in as the new unofficial vice captain. I’ve been co-opted onto the prestigious ‘Excuses For Owais Shah’ committee, whose job is to think of reasons for leaving Owais out. I’m also on the ‘Sporting Chance Jolly Boys For The Future’ committee, because one of the great things about this team is that there are lads in it who look like they could be quality players for years to come. In the bowling department we’ve got the likes of Broady, and let’s not forget the batting, with players such as Broady.

A key element of our recent success has been continuity of selection, so I’ll sometimes be given a little task to ensure that we can continue with our tried-and-tested top six, such as poking Owais in the eye with a stick or telling Rob Key that doughnuts aren’t available abroad.

I just want to clear up one little matter that has raised its head in the dreaded media: there was no significance at all in my not being in the front row of the team photograph. Once I had got out of the cupboard Freddie had accidentally locked me in, after accidentally picking me up and stuffing me in, I was just in time for the photo and it didn’t seem worth turfing one of the older lads out of a seat, especially when they told me I’d be singing treble for the rest of my life if I tried it! Great banter!

For leadership (unofficial) tips, I’ve been reading one of my favourite books: ‘Graham Gooch’s The Art Of Captaincy’ (Keith Fletcher Press, price negotiable) which is full of useful hints about getting the lads into line. I’m slightly worried that I may have injured Ryan Sidebottom by making him run round the outfield 400 times before breakfast but, as Goochie always says, if you can’t run a marathon in lead diving boots while punching yourself in the face, you shouldn’t be playing cricket.

Alan Tyers is not holding the microphone

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Miles Jupp: Learning to (on)drive

January 29th, 2009 by Miles Jupp in Miscellaneous and tagged ,

I find that most of life’s knocks can be tempered if couched in cricket terms. Friends have made a lot of scornful and disbelieving noises recently after I’ve informed them that my new driving instructor is, in fact, my fifth. But I console myself by thinking of this odd achievement as like picking up a “five-fer”.

Imagine my joy when 15 minutes into my first lesson with the new chap, I engineered the conversation around to cricket and it turned out that he too is a massive fan.

This has been fantastic for me, as it means that my gearbox scrapes and uncanny knack of turning on the hazard lights whenever I corner have been forgiven on account of my being happy to absorb his insights in to the Australia-South Africa series. “Australia is a side in transition. It would be wrong for Ponting to hand over to anyone now,” he said yesterday, as I attempted to give way to a parked car in Mill Hill.

He soon realised that I understood aspects of driving technique much quicker, if he explained them using cricketing analogies.

I had a tendency to cling too tightly to the steering wheel and so he told me that I must relax a little.

“It’s as if you’re batting against a spinner. You’ll be much more successful if you use soft hands.”

When clear road opened ahead of us, I wasn’t getting up to the speed quick enough.
“You’re getting bogged down,” he said. “Don’t just look to bat out a session. Take control, accelerate.”

I first obtained a provisional driving license in the late 1990s but I haven’t been having lessons all of that time, you understand, they’ve been sporadic. In cricketing terms my driving record would be roughly equivalent to Derek Pringle’s Test career – 30 matches spread out over more than a decade and with varying degrees of success and control.

Much has changed in the world of English cricket since I first tried to shoe-horn it into a conversation about lane-changing etiquette or manual transmission. Nasser Hussain and Duncan Fletcher were yet to form their crucial partnership. Stuart Broad was an opening batsman yet to experience a growth spurt. KP was the only member of the Natal B side dreaming of captaining England.

But my progress has been certainly less exciting than England’s and cricketing metaphors haven’t been able to help all aspects of my driving.

“What would a cricket coach say about my parallel parking?” I asked the instructor this afternoon.

He pondered the question for a long time, scratching his head and creasing his brow. What nuggets of wisdom were about to fall from his pensive lips? What cricketing inspiration was going to unlock the mysteries of this fiendish manoeuvre?

“I imagine,” he eventually said, “that they would think it was shit.”

Miles Jupp is an actor, comedian and cricket fan

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