Do not be surprised if the cinema bites deeper into sport

The most dramatic example of this cross fertilisation between sport and the outside world came in 2005 when Sir Alex Ferguson, manager of Manchester United, wrote to the Labour Party as they prepared for the general election. He reminded them of the importance of a good night's sleep.-AP

Publicity for sport is amateurish in comparison with the tricks of movie land. Not only is it staid, lacking bite and dependent too heavily on the truth but it tends to announce the date and time of a match and leave it to the spectator to judge whether it is exciting enough to lure him to Lord’s, Trent Bridge or the Oval. By Ted Corbett.

I have the feeling deep in that part of my soul that is devoted exclusively to sport that there is one more book inside that regular author Shane Warne.

It will be called, in the manner of such volumes, My Secrets but it will have nothing to do with quiet meetings with a team-mate and two bookmakers, nor how Terry Jenner taught him to bowl the doosra, the moosra, the Y-ball and the top spinner all with the same action that – even as he heads for 45 — will send the Poms packing in a minute.

This tome will explain how a chubby, laughing beach lad who only wanted to have a few beers turned into a slim and stern critic of future generations of all-rounders, batsmen and bowlers — no-one in his right mind tackles wicket-keepers who think they are a law unto themselves — and can now continue to play, model his best suit and turn in a hand of poker after midnight.

I have a clue that it may be his close association with a certain British film star who feeds him nothing save a few lettuce leaves — with a slice of rare beef between layers of tissue paper on Sundays — and explains that it is by such a restricted regime that the best film stars from Hollywood to Bollywood look so fabulous, live so long and, by the way, get all the most attractive members of the opposite sex to be close friends.

Shane began this quest for beauty where every man begins; on top of his head. Remember when he and Graham Gooch and Michael Vaughan all appeared at the bottom of the back page instead of the top, all praising the work of their favourite hair-planting specialist and all swearing they felt 100 per cent more manly for the experience.

That worked for Shane and so when the idea of fasting until his spinning finger was more like a knitting needle than a googly bowler’s baton he was ready to accept no food is good food.

The most dramatic example of this cross fertilisation between sport and the outside world came in 2005 when Sir Alex Ferguson, manager of Manchester United, by my guess a millionaire several times over — but who has never forgotten that he began in the lower reaches of society — wrote to the Labour Party as they prepared for the general election.

He reminded them of the importance of a good night’s sleep. Whether that was the cause I am not sure but they returned to power. Simple remedy for the politicians’ habit of working all day and talking all night.

It would clearly be to the benefit of cricket if more stars of the silver screen were to prepare players for their work.

Imagine how much more svelte bowlers might be if they were encouraged by those ladies who not only haunt the average man’s dream but earn a million bucks a week as well.

They live the life, like Shane’s friend Ms. Liz Hurley, in the deepest countryside, while feeding their hens and ducks, pigs, cows and sheep, wearing boots to camouflage their highly-insured legs and oversized hats to keep their abundant hair shining and under control.

They make a film a year and live it up on the proceeds from that moment onward. Isn’t that just the life for the likes of Kevin Pietersen who, I am sure, could be persuaded to bat in make-up provided the opposing captain would allow him to have a lighting director, his own camera and a specialist producer to make him look good.

The future of cricket lies in such decisions. They may seem outlandish at the beginning of the 21 {+s} {+t} century but when you consider how far the world has come in the last 20 years do not be surprised if the cinema bites deeper into sport — and cricket in particular — in the next quarter of a century.

IPL has shown us a glimpse of the future but there must be more to come.

Cut away shots, pre-filmed in a studio, interlaced with the live action, a greater use of the crowd, their flags and banners and witty words; there is an infinite range of additional and theatrical tricks to come. Don’t even mention 3D; the next step towards cricket as cinema.

Publicity for sport is amateurish in comparison with the tricks of movie land. Not only is it staid, lacking bite and dependent too heavily on the truth but it tends to announce the date and time of a match and leave it to the spectator to judge whether it is exciting enough to lure him to Lord’s, Trent Bridge or the Oval.

I am sure all this traditional nonsense is about to come to an end. Several film makers have a nominal interest in cricket — and football and rugby and rowing and horse racing — and as their own business is in decline they must be tempted to bring their skills to professional sport.

Live film, plus studio adaptations, plus a top-class director, a raft of make-up artists, and one or two attractive ladies and passionate fans scattered through the action . . . surely that is enough to fill the seats of a cinema many times over.

It will not be The Great Game as visualised by Neville Cardus, W. G. Grace, various presidents of MCC, patriotic MPs and members of the Royal Family but it might just turn future Shane Warnes into celebrities and cricket into a national obsession once again.