Speaker by Various Artists

Part 5: Stamina and stodge

by Aye Calypso

Yesterday's game, the requisite fizzer with which to begin a world cup tourney, had everyone here in the studio pouring over the schedule again, trying to decide when we'd see the first Good Game. The best bet for fans is have a couple after work on Friday, get to bed, then rise horribly early on Saturday for our boys against Blighty. Begin with tea, then take coffee and fistfuls of toast between overs, and in the break between innings, bacon with beans and eggs. Possibly add kippers or sausages.

In watching world cups, we non-players all kind of match that dire tag of deficiency, the 'confidence player'. Begin poorly, staring at dull games and impotence, and you'll burn out. As coaches tell players they must win their first game, armchair sports psychologists suggest that if housework, hygiene, conversation and recycling are to be thrown into the back seat of your life for about five weeks, then you've really got to sit in front of a decent game early on. So you've still got two days to get some sleep hours in the bank, mow the lawns, and catch up briefly with your loved ones (marriage counsellors call this the Gilchrist Method) before you join the odyssey in earnest.

Enough banter
Yay, we're under way. There's excitement over at Cricinfo. Stories include 'Arthur warns of minnow scare', and 'Aussies could get whacked in a bar'. Let's hope so. Yesterday the Windies were efficient, and beaming. They surely have the nicest smiles in world cricket. Simon Taufel looked flushed, Billy Bowden looked silly with zinc on his thin lips. A great start from him, nobody predicted a black-and-white minstrel routine. This really could be his world cup. Pakistan looked spiritually resolute but deeply glum. They weren't talking to each other, so at least they weren't breaking any team rules.

Sleepy time

As I write, the brave Scots are being thrashed by Norwich City. Central midfielder Ponting and veteran winger McGrath look to be controlling the game. On the other channel, there's a mini-epic unravelling as the plucky Kenyans tighten their grip on the doughty Canadians. This game is of interest to supporters wearing beige dressing gowns on the wrong side of the globe. Gros Islet looks a picture.

Looking ahead: while you're still squirming in your bed tomorrow morning, Ireland will beat Zimbabwe, that stricken rhino lying in the dust, sweating, with vultures and crabs nibbling at his ribs. And Sri Lanka will butcher the boys from Bermuda. Many of you will have seen the birth of a sporting celebrity last week, The Leverock of Gibraltar. He was even featuring in the top 5 player searches on Cricinfo the other day. Those no-meat sports stories and snappy montages (à la the 6 o'clock news, or worse, boofhead Dobbo's banal 'Plays of the Week') mightn't really help us understand a game we've missed, but they are to irony what steak and chips are to big Dwayne.