March 2009
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Miles Jupp: Captaincy competency

March 12th, 2009 by Miles Jupp in England, International, Test cricket and tagged , ,

I have been surprised by praise heaped upon Andrew Strauss as a result of him presiding over a series that was both moderately disastrous and phenomenally dull.

Yes, he’s scored a bucket-load of runs but he’s also inherited that peculiarly English knack of not knowing when to declare. Some, like David Gower and Andrew Flintoff, thought they had enough runs on the board and found themselves crushed. Mike Atherton managed to put Graeme Hick into a sulk from which he never really recovered.

Strauss’s apparent ruthlessness when it comes to making tough selection decisions has surprised many, especially those who base their opinion on his performances at press conferences. If you happen to speak with a voice that sounds both posh and friendly, then people often assume that you will be a walkover. The reality is that, rightly or wrongly, people who sound exactly like that have led most of our invading forces over the last 200 years.

What Strauss is being applauded for, it seems, is his avoidance of being utterly awful. I don’t know anything about being a good captain. My own captaincy record is played four, won three, drawn one – but these are misleading statistics. On each victorious occasion somebody played a big innings and then somebody else took a bundle of wickets. Other team members were never short on advice, solicited or otherwise, so I don’t recall having to think a great deal.

I wasn’t even particularly disciplined. On one occasion I arrived late for a game to discover that I was only the third member of our team who had turned up at all. The other two had opened the batting and defended furiously for half an hour while stealing nervous looks in the direction of the boundary waiting for back up before they could play a few shots.

On another occasion I won the toss and elected to bowl first and then halfway to the boundary remembered we’d all agreed that we should bat first. I simply told the rest of the team that I’d lost the toss and that we’d been asked to field.

So I’m definitely not qualified to know what makes a great captain. But in a series from which we have learnt and taken almost nothing, that Straussy is not an awful captain is perhaps news worth celebrating.

Miles Jupp is an actor, comedian and cricket fan

Posted in England, International, Test cricket | No Comments »

Monty: Airplane food is so appealing

March 12th, 2009 by Alan Tyers in Alan Tyers, England and tagged ,

Not needed for the limited overs stuff (after I dropped that round of drinks in my last ODI outing) so back home to Luton for a bit of rest and more practice with Mushy.

To be fair, there were a few problems at the airport, but there’s lots of positives to take from the situation.

At check-in, Mushy asked about special dietary requirements. They showed him the options and he had a bit of a think (always thinking, Mushy) and asked for a vegetarian meal, a vegan meal, a halal meal, a gluten-free meal and some Lucozade. He said he wasn’t too fussed for the salmon but if they had a spare one he’d see what he could do. I’m in awe at his variety: I just asked for a packet of peanuts.

The check-in woman asked us if we had anything flammable or dodgy or whatnot in our bags.

“I just want to bring this live chicken as my carry-on, thanks,” I said.

“But Mr Panesar,” said the woman. “You cannot possibly do that. The rules are surely perfectly clear, are they not?”

“AIIIIEEEEEEEEEHOWZAAAATCHICKEN?” I shouted, in an enthusiastic yet charming manner.

“No, no, Mr Panesar” said the woman. “Look again at the laminated card. Can you see the picture of the chicken with a big red cross through it, under the column marked ‘things not allowed on plane’?”

“Rubbish. That chicken is clearly in line with the column saying ‘allowed on plane’,” I said.

“Please, Mr Panes—”

“ARRGGGGHGGHGHGHGCHICKEN,” I argued, persuasively.

“No,” said the woman. “No chicken.”

“I want that looked at again,” I said.

“Alright,” said the woman. “Here’s another card. Do you see the picture of the chicken with a big red cross through it, under the column marked ‘things not allowed on plane’?”

She was right, believe it or not. It just goes to prove how deceptive technology can be. Still, it’s not flawless: I was sure my ticket was for first class but when I got on the plane I was in seat 98F economy, wedged in between a woman with a sick child and Phil ‘The Power’ Taylor on his way back from a bargain break.

It’s like that check-in woman’s got it in for me or something.

Alan Tyers knows a member of the cabin crew

Posted in Alan Tyers, England | No Comments »

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