A sneer instead of a smile

Kevin Pietersen... should he lead the England one-day team?-AP ?

Michael Vaughan is not one to be moved by history, if his reaction to equalling Peter May's record of most Test wins is anything to go by. Over to Ted Corbett.

May 28: "Finally, a question for Michael Vaughan. Are you aware that today you equal Peter May's record for the number of Test wins?" Vaughan turns aside with an expression that comes close to a sneer. Do I ask a question too far at the end of the post-Test press conference? Is his facial contortion suggesting that he cannot bear the thought of records? Is he so far into the team game ethic that he will not consider taking personal glory? All these are factors perhaps but surely they are false gods. I will admit that if someone suggests that I am worthy of mention alongside the great men in sports writing, the last action I will consider is a display of ill manners like Vaughan's. Afterwards in the press box, another writer says: "The England captain may not be interested in his historic place in the game, Ted, but I think it is fair to say that my readers and I are, very interested."

May 29: We form quite an affection for Bob Woolmer in the few years he is coach to the Pakistan side and we meet often for dinner, particularly during the last tour of Multan, Faisalabad and Lahore. The last of our dinners comes at Leeds when we find a posh Thai restaurant and repay some of the hospitality he shows us six months earlier. And a very jolly night it is too. Naturally, we are very upset when he dies — and don't ask me about the cause since there are any number of conflicting stories, all of which make me glad I don't have to solve the mystery — and decide when we come to Leeds we will hold a memorial dinner, at the same time and in the same seat. And a very jolly night it is too; since Bob will certainly not hear of any unhappiness.

May 30: Haworth Cricket Club is 100 years old. It lies high in the Pennine hills and is a credit to its county. The officials are thrifty, devoted to the game and intent on always having a few thousand pounds in their bank account. They receive a small windfall and decide to use it to put in running water where previously they have to collect rain water to flush the toilets. They build additional bits on to their pavilion and as a final gesture install electricity so that brewing a cup of tea — a refreshment greatly valued by the cricketers of England — they no longer have to lug gas canisters to the ground and use them both for their tea and the washing up afterwards. Then they ring the electricity company — npower who sponsor the Test series — and ask to connect to the mains. To their enormous surprise they are told they have no credit rating and therefore cannot have electricity. "We have �3000 in the bank and we owe no money to anyone," protests an official. "When we want a new lawn mower we just draw money from the bank to buy one. We are a village cricket club and we don't have a corporate credit card." The 80 members, who often spend �70 a week on teas at the ground as they watch two senior and four junior teams, are annoyed enough to raise loud voices and when npower wake up to this bad mistake there is a quick about face. "It is a small matter we can hopefully resolve," says a red-faced official.

May 31: Yorkshire determine that their leg spinner Adil Rashid is worth spending a few shillings and send him all the way down to Brighton so that he can have a master class with Mushtaq Ahmed who, after the retirement of Shane Warne is the best leg spinner in the world. "I show him a few tricks," says Mushy, "and I am sure a lad with his talent will go far." Yorkshire also give Rashid a match in the second team while the first team play out a tough day-night match against Derbyshire, their neighbours and often surprisingly awkward rivals. "We want him to be able to bowl plenty of overs without the pressure he will find in a first team game," says Martyn Moxon, the coach. Moxon returns to Yorkshire where he is a distinguished opening batsman for 15 years after a spell coaching Durham. Meanwhile at Derby the match has to be decided on Duckworth-Lewis because the sunshine prevents the batsmen seeing the ball. "Good light" stops play. Now that has to be a unique reason for going to the D/L method, although I remember Ian Botham successfully pleading the same case in a county game at Taunton many years ago.

June 1: A year ago when the great debate on who must take over the captaincy reaches its climax I ask the co-selector Geoff Miller if Kevin Pietersen comes into the reckoning. "Just leave him to bat, Ted, that's his job and besides there are more than enough candidates already," says Miller. Now, apparently without any collusion, both Graham Thorpe and Nasser Hussain write newspaper articles suggesting that Pietersen is the right man for the one-day international leadership. They think that if Michael Vaughan retires from one-dayers he will extend his Test life. Pietersen gives the usual answer. "Michael is our captain and I am quite happy with that." But it still sounds like a good idea for a man with Pietersen's get-up-and-go to try out the leadership.

June 2: So Bob Woolmer dies naturally which is good news for everyone, especially his family and those of us who fear that one day we will hear that a friend, or someone we know of, or a regular companion, is complicit in his murder. It also raises the possibility that Bob's reputation as a man of cricket — knowledgeable, friendly, willing to share his ideas, to expand the practice of coaching, to encourage all those who have talent that can be measured from one ounce to several tons — may be restored. The truth is that we lose a man of vision who sees — whether the subject is apartheid, or a new way of keeping in touch with those in the middle — that there is always an alternative view. So let's forget his death but regret his absence for our loss is beyond measurement.

June 3: At the same time we must hope that we are not seeing the beginning of the end of Andrew Flintoff, the all-rounder. He has keyhole surgery this week-end on his left ankle, the one that makes the booming noise as it lands on the popping crease with 16st and 6ft 4in causing the crash landing. He wonders about his future; is it as a batsman only? I hope not. Freddie gives the lie to the saying, often heard, that "there are no characters left in the game" and for that reason alone cricket needs him batting, laughing, bowling, joking, taking impossible catches and smiling, always smiling, even when — as at this moment — he has little to smile about.