16th October 2011

Delhi, and final preparations before the second ODI saw us take part in a full-scale inter-squad warm-up match. Usually these sort of games are treated with the same amount of respect as Steven Smith’s knee high full toss stock-ball, but after Andy Flower was overheard describing his thoughts on tomorrow’s starting line-up as being “as solid as an Ian Bell bowel movement” our collective concentration was adjusted to levels normally only seen on tour when the press pack are desperately trying to meet deadlines for filing their expense claim forms.

Exempt from action was teacher’s pet, Graeme Swann; the only member of our attack able to leave the field on Friday without the ashen-faced look of a man whose bowling analysis had been violated like a boy-band caught up in a prison riot.

Graeme’s behaviour has been even more perturbing than usual on this tour, as the publication of his memoirs seems to have concentrated his mind into planning for his end of career escape route, commentating.

Fair enough you’d think, but is it really necessary to practise 24/7? His none stop dressing room version of Test Match Special is starting to drive everyone nuts and today’s hairbrush interviews with recently dismissed batsmen were threatening to get out of hand.

Case in point was his ill advised interception of Samit Patel, after the lad had been given out to a decidedly dodgy lbw decision. Anyone in their right mind could see it was best to give the guy a little space once he made it back to the dressing room. It certainly wasn’t the time to wave a crudely drawn approximation of Hawkeye under his nose and tell him his footwork was “schoolboy”.

As Samit chased Graeme through the door, down the stairs, and out into the sweltering New Delhi streets, I remember thinking to myself, “I’m sure Laker and Lock never used to do this”.

To be fair, Samit wasn’t the only member of the squad being pushed to breaking point, as the day’s practice game had left us all held captive to endless hours of Graeme “filling in blank air time”. The full horror of which included descriptions of local wild life, complaints that his imaginary listeners hadn’t sent in any cakes and a sock puppet ‘expert summariser’ who spoke with a mumbling Brummie accent to make a number of unnecessary comments about wanting to be washed with IPL cheerleader undergarments.

It’s hard to see any of that getting Swanny a job with a responsible broadcaster.

Although I understand Sky are still quite keen…

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