Result of enthusiasm

ALLEN STANFORD is a Texan with no background in the game but he has several billion dollars and now proposes to use part of his fortune to put on an international tournament involving West Indies and South Africa later in the year, writes TED CORBETT.

August 14 — It seems that the Twenty20 tournament in the Caribbean is a huge success, with massive crowds, exciting cricket and just a chance that the dire days of West Indies cricket are forgotten. I wake up at some miserable time of the night, switch on the television and there it is, the glory of short span cricket in which the commentators get very exercised about the amounts of money available to the winning teams, the man of the match and not least to local authorities for the development of cricket among the young. The players seem to be less enthused by the desire of the promoter Allen Stanford to give each one a hearty cuddle but I hear it is just a result of his enthusiasm for cricket despite the fact that he is a Texan with no background in the game. He has several billion dollars however and now proposes to use part of his fortune to put on an international tournament involving West Indies and South Africa later in the year. Large beginnings and I suppose that with Kerry Packer no longer with us there is a chance he can take over at least the Twenty20 version of world cricket.

August 15 — It tells you a lot about Mark Ramprakash when you learn that his nickname is Bloodaxe; that nom-de-guerre is usually given to players with ferocious tempers. I used to enjoy watching one Bloodaxe, the Danish fast bowler Ole Mortensen, so passionate about his bowling that his appeals have all the fire of a Norse warrior on a day of battle and pillage. Especially when the stumps are broken and both bails are on the ground. Ramps, the gentle creature I know on several tours, so good natured that he is ready to pick up Jo King's overloaded pilot's case and carry it from her taxi to the hotel; and so concerned for the conventions that when a senior player hints that he must change position in the field he points to the captain, the only boss whose orders he will obey. This summer Ramprakash already scores 2,000 runs — yes, more than all the overseas players — and in his last six innings hits 900 at an average of 180. Sadly, despite two centuries, his Test average is only 27.33 in a career that extends for 10 years from 1991. So, as his 37th birthday is coming along, Ramps is about as likely to tour Australia as Robin Hood or Pooh Bear. Why cannot he turn a career, which includes 15 summers with more than 1,000 runs — at Middlesex and now at Surrey — into success in the Test arena? Graeme Hick, 130 centuries and counting, and an offer to join Derbyshire, aged 40, although he is to stay with Worcestershire for another year, has the same problem. They ought to make their places permanent in an era when England do not have many world class batsmen. His critics quote discipline as one problem but he seems to freeze in the Test arena right from his first summer when he plays a number of long innings in seven Tests but never gets to 30. I read recently that he is calmer now; but it's too late. England will not drop any of their excellent top seven batsmen to create a place for a man whose inability to take the last step to greatness is surely a matter of sorrow rather than anger.

August 16 — Stuart Broad is not just huge and expecting to be able to look Joel Garner in the eye some time soon but he has the right choice of phrase to please the interviewers and the right choice of heroes. He says: "My role model for five years has been Glenn McGrath." I'm sure he will have a chance to continue his admiration from closer quarters sometime this autumn.

August 17 — As the Pakistan pacemen cut down the England batsmen it comes to my mind that the two men best able to use the pitch to the full effect are the television umpire Peter Hartley and the fourth umpire Trevor Jesty, in their prime both fine bowlers of just above medium pace. Or, even better, Derek Pringle and Angus Fraser, now using their fingers to churn out words on their laptops rather than swinging the ball across the pitch.

August 18 — Just across the way from the Oval lies a huge green building in which — if all the rumours are true — Britain's spies have their headquarters. I love reading about James Bond, the various characters in John Le Carre's novels and the true life adventures of the men from MI5 and MI6. If only I am not born a coward I will be among their company, flitting into and out of dangerous countries, while saving the world from the Mafia, Smersh and other nasty people. However, between the events in 2005 and 2006, I change my mind about the spy building a mile down the road. I convince myself that all the troubles which beset me as I try to send my copy to various parts of the world occur because these spies are going about their nefarious works and so using up all the wireless space that ought to go to those wishing to report cricket matches, or send good wishes to their loved ones. It is not until late in the day that the lines come free and by that time I grow accustomed to the sound of silence. All day in a normal Press box phones ring out their various tunes and the annoying bleep of the arriving text message fills the air. Today it is so quiet, why a man can almost get on with his work in peace.

August 19 — Security at the ground is ridiculously severe but we are in the middle of a terrorist threat and one learns, reluctantly, to live with bag searches that reveal nothing and pat downs that are perfunctory. When we arrive at the Press box some kind sponsor leaves a tiny bottle of champagne — barely enough to fill a glass — on every desk. Like the rest of us, Simon Barnes, the columnist from The Times, places the bottle carefully in the bottom of his bag and forgets all about it. Until the next morning when an eagle-eyed searcher finds it — and confiscates it.

August 20 — John Buchanan, the Australian coach known for his reliance on the works of Chinese generals, motivational chats and patriotic lectures, makes much of his intention to give copies of the book by Duncan Fletcher, the England coach, to his players so they can uncover what lies in store. He may be wasting his time. Fletcher is clever enough to leave out any reference to the weaknesses of any batsman who will play in this series even though he outlines his thoughts with his ghost. Perhaps Buchanan may be better deployed in interrogating the ghost.