Speaker by Various Artists

6

Part 9: Fred Ain't Dead

by Aye Calypso 2

Andrew Flintoff. Cor. How good is this guy as a role model? The expression 'charges in' was created for him. His open-chested action is all burly gunslinger, he sweats like a hog, he doesn't shave too often. Cricket's leaders shuffle in and out of slips and press conferences, dull as dishwater. Michael Vaughan looks grim, like he's just remembered something embarrassing he said at dinner last night. Nasser Hussain perfected a very English sort of canny tedium.

Flintoff struts. Even when he lopes, he's this pasty peacock, not shy of the lash, fit for a crusade, the talisman of the barmy. He bats and bowls, quite well, really. He can win you a match, and a series. But there's much more. Impaled on the spires of professional sport, there's too little imagination to cultivate a bloke grinning, or shrugging his shoulders, or falling into a boat, or 'avvin a good larf. Or licking a ball what flew into a pint. Or turning up totally soused at the PM's morning tea.

Vice-captaincy is OK, but anything more than another flirt with captaincy (maybe a messy tour of the subcontinent) would diminish him to another flailing pastor of another rubbish flock. So sod that, and go the smiling Lancashire boy. Let Rumours swirl around, you just play your game, lad. Results are good, stories are better, characters are best. Warney's gone, and cricket needs you, Fred.

Headline competition
We're running a wee competition here in the studio for the Son of Satan the Subeditor Award, for excruciating puns in world cup headlines. Send in your best effort – prizes include a picture of Scott Styris, an iced bun, and the full transcripts of Kyle Mills' columns from the Sunday Star Times. So far in the local press we've enjoyed the affable 'Flintoff falls into drink', and, following the Ireland-Zim tied game, the baffling 'Irish ties are smiling'.

In the nets
The gentlemen's game is everywhere. On the web you can witness a grassed gamut – grace and craftsmanship through to awkwardness and catastrophe. Players are taking up the challenge, some are playing straight, others getting a little bit funky behind the wicket. Lou Vincent got out early, then got a start but has yet to establish himself. The Chris Cairns site states: 'Chris Cairns has retired from Test cricket, however, he is continuing to play one-day cricket for New Zealand and has said he would like to stay on for the 2007 World Cup.' Good news. You already know about Macca's official tour diary. Have you caught up with Chris Martin's skyrocketing profile? Last we heard he was still en route to the Caribbean as volunteer backup, but his bags had gone missing in Buenos Aires, so he's been doing some daytime TV over there.

If you don't happen to spend time on MySpace, we understand. You are old. There is also the issue of the design being pants, and the pages are slow to load. But you'll be missing the Jacob Oram page, where Dan Vettori offers to cut off Jake's finger, and you'll be impressed at the big man's 225 friends, including Gilly and Warney. And Millsy. Flem's page, ominously, contains various dead links, and many hit counters. Important to have a mandate if you're captain. Speaking of Luca, his appreciation club (23 members: men, women and children) reveals that when it comes to breeding, Daniel doesn't want kids. And don't miss Dan the ambassador. 'DANIEL VETTORI's professorial demeanour isn't simply down to the fact that he wears spectacles on the sportsfield.' Goodness no. It's the way he conducts himself, and his dynamic intonation at the microphone. The question remains, who has the dullest monotone in world cricket: Flem or Luca?

Alex Gilks

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