Ashes update: Knackered Shane Warne has reason to be grateful to the tooth fairy

As Sky’s introductions for the third Test on the wetlands in Birmingham got under way this morning, I confess that I couldn’t quite decide which had had the more work done on it: the Edgbaston outfield or Shane Warne’s teeth.

I eventually decided it must be the latter, for from the mouth of the Aussie former leg spinner flashed a sparkle and gleam that would make even a Colgate executive blush. In fact, such a paler shade of white are his mandibles, that you could stick him behind the bowler’s arm, ask him to grin and do away with the need for a sightscreen.

If you don’t have access to Sky, you might like to peruse the following excerpt of an old episode of Friends, for a fuller understanding of the Shane Warne new look

That, however, was the only visible part of Warne that was looking top Australian dollar. The spikey gelled hair and tanned visage – tanned probably only because of the amount of foundation that the make-up artist had applied to tone out the blemishes – could not disguise the fact that he appeared knackered, washed up, whatever you will.

Then, in conversation with David Gower, he offered up the notion – I hesitate to call it an excuse – that, true professional that he was, he had been at the ground at 5am to check on the conditions. I think that highly unlikely: if Warne had been at the ground at 5am, I’m sure it was only because it was on the route back to his hotel from whatever boozy function he had attended long into the early hours.

In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if the ground staff who had worked themselves into the earth trying to get the venue ready for today’s proceedings found him curled up and having a happy little snooze on a length when they first rolled back the covers.

Sky, though, proved to be a bit of a tease today. I woke up expecting to hear the day’s play had been abandoned before anyone had even thought about bowling a ball, only to be greeted with the sight of bright sunshine, the covers removed to the edge of the square and a member of the ground staff gently operating a mower or roller up and down a very firm-looking pitch.

It was 15 minutes into the build-up before we adjourned to Ian Botham in the middle, who was even more tantalising as he explained how excellent the pitch was. But before long he was heading off in the direction of the bowlers’ run-ups, trying to convince us that water was rising up over his polished size-12s. (Is it too much to have expected the bowlers’ run-ups to have been properly protected?)

As I write now, Michael Atherton is suggesting there may yet be some play today – good drying conditions, the subtle placement of hessian matting to do their tricks, but I’m not optimistic. It’s been one of those weeks for cricket.

With Andrew Strauss’s team one-up in the series there is no reason for them to risk life, limb and a wet ball should they be forced to bowl.

I was going to say that there’s about as much of a chance of getting under way as Shane Warne needing a new set of dentures, but, blimey, late news alert. They’re hoping to start at 5pm, with the toss half an hour earlier. By which time, of course, I will be on my way to work.

Such is life.

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