Mushy in the news again

Mushtaq Mohammad puts together a fascinating AUTOBIOGRAPHY with anecdotes galore, writes TED CORBETT.

June 10 - You will excuse me if I say a purely selfish thank you to ICC for acknowledging that some Tests go on too long. They have now given permission for an early finish in matches that are not going anywhere. I recognise, of course, that fans want matches to continue even when there is no point. I understand their wish to obtain value for money, to sit in the sunshine and enjoy the elegant game. But for those of us with deadlines to meet, with long distances to travel or a plane to catch, this ruling comes as a great relief. Yes, it is a selfish thought and I ask you to understand. I know I have the best job in the world, but sometimes the job and I need a little time to ourselves.

June 11 - The hottest debate in this country still centres on television coverage. Some people will not pay for cricket commentary; some people are especially determined not to pay Rupert Murdoch to get what they call a second class view of the game. They grow into the standard set by those award winners at Channel Four. One of the Sky TV producers stops going to parties because he faces so many accusations. David Collier, chief executive to the ECB, goes on Test Match Special to receive a hostile series of questions from Jon Agnew who asks him four times to detail the number of viewers to the Sky coverage. "Can I suggest 200,000?" asks Agnew. "Those are not the figures I have," says Collier but will not give his own viewing statistics. Still, the contract is in place until 2009 however many times the deal is damned.

June 12 - Mushtaq Mohammad puts together a fascinating autobiography. Right from his own introduction — explaining how he came to write the book a quarter of a century after his retirement, to his account of how his family move from middle class comfort in northern India to live in a Hindu temple in Karachi while he and his brothers attend a Christian school, to his account of the way he was pulled off a train in Lahore to become the youngest Test player at 16 when he thought he was going home to Karachi — there are anecdotes galore. "I have built up a reputation for myself as a spinner of yarns leading to many a merry moment," he says. He recounts the story of the infamous 1999 World Cup tie against Bangladesh when he is the Pakistan coach and his dispute with Allan Border over a bribery allegation. He says: "I have told it like it is. There is no attempt at sanitisation, and maybe there are portions that will ruffle some feathers." Good for you, Mushy. The book is co-written by the energetic Richard Sydenham, a young freelance cricket reporter who knows Mushy from their days in Birmingham and, the Pakistan freelance Afia Salam, who collaborates with Hanif Mohammad, Mushtaq's rather more famous brother, on his book. I don't generally enjoy cricket books — they are all the same — but there is a charm about this warts and all autobiography that will appeal to many.

June 13 - It rained at the Oval for so long that the Twenty-20 match to raise money for the Pakistan Earthquake appeal is in doubt but, more from goodwill than commonsense, they manage a 10-over game. The 20,000 crowd are just as happy to play their part and �250,000 is raised. Andrew Flintoff upstages his pals when he draws a big crowd to the nets at lunch to watch him practise on the second day of the first Test. That's fine but beyond the ground debate on the future of the captaincy is fierce. Can Flintoff be the leader as well as bat, bowl and field? Is Andrew Strauss good enough? What if there is another injury scare? Recall Trescothick? Or look further afield?

June 14 - Matthew Fleming, of the Ian Fleming family of bankers and millionaires, and once captain of Kent, speaks at a dinner in the pavilion Long Room, where Chris Cowdrey's sons are with their father, also once a Kent captain. Fleming tells the story of his introduction to the most famous Cowdrey, Colin, the boys' grandfather and how that great man, then captain of England, tests him out by throwing raw eggs to him. Catch them with hard hands and, well, you can imagine the result. "Now is the time to get my own back," he laughs. "Come out here, boys." But, as you may imagine Julius and Fabian are up to the task and not a drop of egg is spilt.

June 15 - Moves are afoot to hold a memorial service for Fred Trueman although he says before he dies that he does not want one. I think his wishes must be honoured. People who miss the funeral service feel they must have a chance to show their appreciation of this great fast bowler. There is also talk of a cricket match at Headingley where he performs some of his most wonderful feats. Yorkshire's bosses decide in principle to create a permanent memorial in his honour and will decide exactly what form it takes later. What a pity it takes the man's death to bring such ideas to the fore. Trueman, not to mention a raft of other Yorkshire greats from Tunnicliffe and Brown, opening partners in the 1890s; Rhodes and Hirst, bowling partners before the First World War; Sutcliffe, Hutton and Boycott, the openers; Illingworth and Close, the all-rounders; Verity and Wardle, the best spinners, Binks, the finest wicketkeeper as Godfrey Evans begins to wane, and Bowes, the fast bowler who bowls Bradman first ball ought to have their names in lights within 10 years of their retirement. If Trueman's death and the purchase of the ground changes all that, life will move on. But don't hold your breath. This is Yorkshire where cricket moves slowly and where violent disagreements are part of life. I hear of a charity dinner long ago when Trueman speaks. As usual he tells a few tales of the old days but all round him former team-mates tell him how wrong he is. He argues back and for five full minutes there are verbal volleys which continue long after the dinner finishes.

July 16 - Bill Frindall, the "Bearded Wonder" of Test Match Special, the BBC radio cricket commentary programme, the most famous scorer on the planet and editor of the Playfair annual, has been awarded the title Beard of the Year. Actually Bill is so proud of his beard that it is surprising that he has not been given the title for life. I also admit to a moment of jealousy since my own beard is celebrating its 35th anniversary this week and is, despite the odd white hair, much more distinguished, rather trimmer and in every way a better contender for that crown than dear Bill's. Well, next year perhaps.