Broadly speaking, an enforcer

Published : Aug 04, 2011 00:00 IST

The diary gets a diversion when it learns that the debate that threatens to tear England asunder isn't the one on terrorism or the one on migrants or even the one on the News of the World; it's the one on Stuart Broad's role as The Enforcer. Over to S. Ram Mahesh.

Perhaps the only problem of living in Chennai, as delightful a place as any in the world, is that one becomes accustomed to a certain robustness of weather. M. S. Dhoni (one of Chennai's many fine sons, adopted, but every bit the local) once said the mind could be made to believe anything if you told it just right. The body though isn't as impressionable. When it moves from a place where sitting under the fan raises a sweat to one where a similar course of action raises the suspicion that you're suicidal, it protests. To be fair, London is only cold and rainy some of the time. And the diary's body is by nature a whiner, too accustomed to the easy life. But day one in London is a shock to the system and the diary needs diversion. Which it gets when it learns that the debate that threatens to tear England asunder isn't the one on terrorism or the one on migrants or even the one on the News of the World; it's the one on Stuart Broad's role as The Enforcer. Precisely how an annoyingly petulant, sickeningly sweet-faced, my-daddy-is-a-match-referee-so-I-can-do-anything boy came to be known as such is beyond the diary's limited understanding. Andy Flower, the England coach, is just as baffled. “Who? He?” Flower is learnt to have said in disbelief. Well it's from a lowly-placed, unreliable source, so the former Zimbabwe keeper-batsman may have said something else. What he did say, to the Guardian no less, was: “I've heard some crazy stuff about him being — and I hate this word — an enforcer. His job is to create pressure and to take wickets … not to rough up the opposition. It is not to be this ridiculous enforcer.” Sensible man, Flower. Broad is ridiculous as an enforcer.

Dravid frowns on Timeless Test: Rahul Dravid is comfortingly old-school, but he startles everyone with his take on the Timeless Test, an idea the ICC bigwigs are considering as part of the World Test championship. What would it be like to play so long you only stop when you have a boat (or the latest season of Dexter) to catch? “Five days should be enough,” he says. “Spice up the wicket a bit and it won't even take that long.” Don't say that Rahul. What about the art of batting in Test cricket, the craft of innings building that Alastair Cook and Jonathan Trott have brought back to fashion in England, something he himself has exhibited with great distinction in a 15-year career? “Being boring you mean?” Dravid asks, laughing. He does eventually answer the question in his considered, erudite manner, ensuring the Lord's tour guide, who might have seen Ranji bat (or Ranji's bat, he doesn't talk too clearly), doesn't cry into his great white beard. Dravid, when talking about coach Duncan Fletcher, says the team is still getting to terms with the famously brusque man's sense of humour. “He has a fantastic sense of humour once you get to know him,” says Dravid. “Fletcher's shown them more in two months than he showed us in four years,” grumbles an English journalist.

Being Tendulkar junior… Overheard at India's practice. One gentleman pointing to a young left-handed batsman:

“There he is?”“Who?”“The son of God.”“Who? Jee…”“No, no, Arjun. Tendulkar junior.”The cross he bears.

Country over county: Poor Timmy Bresnan. As if it wasn't enough to be called a “fat, cheating, smelly, fish-pitted, Yorkshire pie-eater” by James Anderson, only half in jest, the jolly lad now hears voices in his head. He looks at the collection of voice-recorders in front of him, saying “someone is talking out of this.” Five English journalists press their ears to the devices, but no one is any wiser. “Was it a foreign voice?” asks one journalist, looking perplexed. In an inspired bit of investigative journalism, the diary finds that the “voice” is from the adjoining room, and no, it isn't Anderson continuing the Twitter feud. Merely an overloud telly journalist.

Before Bresnan can get too comfortable, he's asked this searching question: “Would you like to deny Tendulkar his 100th 100 or would you, as a fellow Yorkshire-man, like to see his name on the honours roll at Lord's?” Bresnan, who was six when he saw Tendulkar turn out for Yorkshire, picks country over county.

Ganguly holds court: Who is this the diary spots? Can it be Sourav Ganguly? Ah yes, it is the Maharajah or Lord Snooty depending on if you speak to a Kolkatan or a Lancastrian. You can't deny that he is royalty though — and he belongs at Lord's where he made a century on debut. He's holding court, making small talk with people before regally waving them away. The diary eagerly steps forward when Ganguly smiles. And sheepishly walks on as it realises the smile was for Gautam Gambhir behind it.

No more of that: Kiran More is as dapper as ever. He's here, as he tells us, to watch Dravid, Laxman, and Tendulkar. Much as he did Graham Gooch make 333 after he dropped him on 36 in 1990? No, the diary doesn't actually ask that question — it hasn't the guts to. Besides wicketkeepers get enough stick. Little need to remind them of errors forgotten.

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