Farewell to the Little Master Blaster


Sachin Tendulkar will play his 200th and final test match tomorrow. That sentence may mean absolutely nothing to you. But then you can consider yourself in a minority, and should read on. When tickets went up online to watch this greatest of all Indian batsman’s swan song, the selling website received 19 million hits within the first hour. NINETEEN MIILLION people inquired after tickets. The ground doesn’t hold that many.

I saw Tendulkar bat 6 or 7 times and, true to form, never saw him make more than 45. I think I'm his jinx. Perhaps the England team should have taken me with him to India every time they went on tour ? God knows I've written and asked them enough.

I saw Tendulkar bat 6 or 7 times (that’s me, 5th from left, the tall Indian bloke with the moustache) and, true to form, never saw him make more than 45. I think I’m his jinx. Perhaps the England team should have taken me with him to India every time they went on tour ? God knows I’ve written and asked them enough.

Whether we like it or not, Indian Cricket— and its governing body, the much-loved, virtuous, high-minded and incorruptible BCCI— is the driving force of the world game. The numbers just stack up against all else: Revenue and fan base for starters make other nations’ figures dwindle into insignificance. It’s difficult to put an exact figure on the audience in the sub-continent, but if you said 800 million people watch the game, you wouldn’t be a million miles away.

If the Poms and the Aussies think the world is anxiously awaiting another in a rather irritating extended run of Ashes Test matches, they might think again. The cricketing world at large is on the edge of its seat expectantly anticipating the last walk to the crease by this little man on his home ground in Mubai, desperate for him to do well.

In a nation increasingly force-fed the monotony & banality of Twenty20 Franchise Tournaments, served up on dirt-brown platters of lifeless wickets, it is somehow refreshing to know there is still interest in the longer form of the game — even if it is a one-off to recognise one of the greats. And while an ever-growing number of our sporting idols are being exposed as at best, cynics, at worst cheats, it’s been great to watch this man go about his business, not just brilliantly, but honestly, humbly and often with a smile on his face.

And as India is a country obsessed with stats, and cricket is a game which thrives off them, it’s worth having a quick butchers at a few numbers and quotes surrounding Sachin Ramesh Tendulkar:1-650_042312063322

Height : 5ft 5″ (1.65 metres)

Test Debut (vrs Pakistan) 1989, Karachi

In his debut first-class match for Bombay in the 1988/89 season, he scored 100 not-out aged 15 years 232 days

England Coach Andy Flower: “There are 2 kind of batsmen in the world. 1: Sachin Tendulkar. 2: all the others.”

Holds the record for scoring 1,000 One Day International runs in a calendar year, having done it six times, in 1994, 1996, 1997, 1998, 2000 and 2003

Shane Warne: “Sachin Tendulkar is, in my time, the best player without a doubt — daylight 2nd, Brian Lara 3rd.”

18,426 runs and 49 hundreds in ODIs

Test Best: 248 not out, which he made against Australia in 2004 at Sydney.

First batsman to hit a double-century in ODI cricket as he scored an unbeaten 200 against South Africa in Gwailor, February 2010.

199* Tests at 53.72 runs per innings.

President Barack Obama “I don’t know about cricket but still I watch cricket to see Sachin play. Not because I love his play but because I want to know the reason why my country’s production goes down by 5 per cent when he’s in batting.”

Numbers of fellow pros who have a bad word to say about him: 0

Numbers of fellow pros who have a bad word to say about him: 0

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Middle and Leg, Please.


Many congratulations to Mr Willie Eckerslike of Staines for the winning entry to the recent caption competition. For his winning effort of “If they go above my head, can they be called wide ?”) Mr Eckerslike wins for himself a pair of Anti-Pervert Hairy stockings (as reported by The Daily Telegraph), Several plastic OBEs, a drip-dry statue of Jane Mansfield and a ticket to Hampstead Fairground.

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And now, as it’s that time of year again when the English, traditionally, exit a major tournament, here are some random cricket images:

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The Australian Touring Party to England 2013. Not sure who the geezer front right is, don’t think he made the trip. The two fellas wearing the pink scarves are currently in the nets, awaiting confirmation of Australian citizenship. ACB hope they’ll be available by the Third Test. (D.A.Warner is out of shot, beating up the co-pilot.)

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M.A.Holding hears that no-one’s switched on the urn in the pavilion.

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England’s crack Formation Ball-Tampering Display Team

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Shane Warne finds a new career

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England’s current World-Class Cricketers. And Stuart Broad.

…And the Winner Is


 Best Performance in a Leading Roll (in a Foreign Comedy)

frederick Michelak

In a tightly contested race, the award of biggest comedian on show yesterday went to the French No.10 Frédéric Michalak for his near perfect portrayal of an explosion in an idiot factory during an amateur production of Les Miserables in Paris last night. Michelak, although easily carrying off the award (while trying not to drop it), had to fight off some pretty strong competition, notably from the likes of The Stade de France groundsman, Monsieur Herbe du Somme; Scotland’s own Jim Hamilton for Sunday Morning Lummox —his harrowing portrayal of a 1974 ExB Lock Forward with a forearm smash addiction; and Luciano Orquera, the Italian Outside-Half for his reprise of the Daniel Day Lewis‘s role from My Left Foot.

But in the end the award rightly went to Michelak for possibly the most embarrassing display by an old man on a sports field since Muhammed Ali ‘fought’ Trevor Berbick or Henry Leconte stopped his ‘zany’ antics on the ATP veterans tour. Michelak, of course, even in his prime could never be accused of having been an Ali, but yesterday many french rugby fans were heard to dub him “Leconte”. Or something like that.

The 30 year of from the south of France (born To Lose Toulouse 1982) is also in the running for Worst Director of 14 Other Men, and The Academys honorary Do Us All a Favour and Hang Up Your Boots Award (colloquially known as The Warnie), but has been withdrawn from circulation until further notice, having been found to contain at least 90% donkey.

Don’t Look, Ethel


(Yes yes yes, it’s cricket again – but you’ll like this one)

I think if I ever had to face an Australian fast bowler I’d ask for a blindfold. ‘England’ batsmen Kevin Pietersen has a go at facing a bowling machine, cranked up to serious speeds. He’s pretty good at it. Perhaps that’s the answer, KP ?

The Git & The Galla


Sir Ivor Cullen and his wife Betty had ham hock for supper last night. I know this because yesterday afternoon I was sitting in front of a guy that was off to dine with them later and I overheard him telling his friends.

In Buenos Aires (that’s in Argentina) a salad starter, followed by a 400g lomo steak (that’s spelt l-o-m-o), with sauteed potatoes, a glass of red wine, then finally rice pudding washed down with a desert wine costs £12.45. Were you aware of that ? No ? Oh well you should have been with me yesterday because you would have learnt all this and more, all from the same dull bloke.

Carluccio’s in St John’s Wood don’t take reservations for lunch – they don’t get very busy. A bottle of Wolf Blass Unoaked Chardonnay costs £22 in Tescos, yet one’s able to buy a bottle of, albeit a plastic bottle here today for just £19. I think that’s very reasonable, don’t you ? He did. It was, he said “one of my favourites”.

So where was I yesterday ? At a meeting of my wine club ? No. Cookery class ? Afraid not. Dining with friends at the Savoy Grill ? Not even close. I was, in fact, watching a cricket match at Lords cricket ground. Or rather I was trying to watch a cricket match, but my concentration and enjoyment was constantly ruined by this bloated English dullard sitting behind me, ‘entertaining’ friends or clients, though who could have been entertained by this fat git, Thomas Lord alone knows.

Ever been at the cinema when a bloke sitting behind you comments or commentates on every scene, recites every punchline or preempts every key scene ? Well you get the gist of my morning at the Home of Cricket. This bloke was boring. I mean he was DULL. Every shot, every ball, every catch, every run: not only did he have a comment or opinion on it, it was clear he knew absolutely sod all about cricket (though I guess I would have to bow to his gastronomic expertise. Judging by the size of him, he worked hard at it). He was wrong or boring or both on a number of subjects. When he produced his holiday snaps from his trip to Buenos Aires, my jaw hit my knees.

I lost count of how many facts and laws of the game he got wrong, and how ignorant he was, well, about everything really. I just know that when he explained what made Shane Warne “one of my favourite swing bowlers” I went for a pint. On my return to my seat he was waxing lyrical about the time in South Africa when he shared a whole bottle of sherry with “some coloured chaps” who were “frightfully charming”, then segwayed into an explanation of the apartheid system and why the coloureds and blacks had come out of it all right in the end. I got up and went for another pint.

The day didn’t going well from the get-go. The Aussies were in town and that only ever means one thing: legions of yellow-coloured cobbers, lugging eskis of laaager around with them bellowing encouragements and insults to their team in equal measure. One such groups of individuals had parked themselves near me. Within a couple of tinnies their leader (another fatty) was droaning such gems as “C’mon Ricky, yer big Galla !” or “Nurdle, nurdle ! Nurdle, nurdle! ” It was as if he’s swallowed a vuvuzela. He was painful to listen to.

He also fancied himself as an authority, not just on cricket, but on the Lords ground itself. He’d obviously been here once before and didn’t hold back taking his companions on a virtual tour of the ground, all conducted from where his fat arse was perched in row 2 of the stand and punctuated by gulps of the amber nectar. Again, his knowledge of the history of the ground was less than spot-on, but that didn’t stop him relaying the ‘facts’ that the Ashes were brought back to England by WG Grace (nope) and the ground was named after the House of Lords who used to play cricket matches here in the 1800s. Wrong again, mate.

Thankfully for all in the vicinity, he and his mob decided to move to a more sparsely populated part of the stand, presumably so they could spread out their cheeks in comfort, and my sanity and eardrums were saved. Until Sir Bufton Tufton sat himself behind me, that is.

Then came the last straw- he started telling jokes.
“One of my favourite examples of chitchat on the field – the Australians call it sledging- is the one when there was a rather rotund bowler bowling at some batsmen-or-other when the batter asked the bowler how many jaffa cakes he ate? ‘I have one every time I sleep with your wife’ retorted the bowler. Very funny, very funny”
I don’t think I’ve ever heard anyone cock-up a story quite so spectacularly. As sledging stories go, that one’s probably the funniest and most famous, and only a complete berk like the bloke behind me could have fcked it up so completely. It really took the biscuit. Or the jaffa cake.

I made my excuses, picked up my rucksack, and watched the rest of the match on the tv in the bar. As I stood there watching the match, in peace and content to be 200 yards away from the Git & the Galla, I wondered how Sir Ivor Cullen and his wife Betty were getting on? I reckoned they’d probably made good progress with the meal preparations as they had been without the distraction of their evening’s dinner guest’s fascinating stories, a pleasure enjoyed by us poor sods in that section of the stand at Lords today. I just hoped that when he finally arrived at their house, if he was as charming and as entertaining as he’d been to us, Sir Ivor would insert a ham hock into him. I suspect that wouldn’t be one of his favourites.