Racing commentator Richard Hoiles brings us his latest words of wisdom.
Post Cheltenham everything seems a little quiet but a couple of things warmed the heart on Friday.
Firstly was the unexpected appearance of a much beloved set of colours on Northern Dusk in the bumper at Kelso on Friday. Yellow with black spots and sleeves white cap were those of Major Barlow who owned my favourite ever horse Pegwell Bay, one of whose racing plates hangs over my front door. A beautifully balanced, agile horse, he was one of the fastest away from a fence I have ever seen. I never remember the colours being carried by another horse until Friday and there appears to be a connection as the Northern Dusk owners are a syndicate called ‘The Peg Legs’. Fortunately the horse also appears to have a degree of ability showing a fair degree of promise and I will certainly be following his exploits with more than a degree of interest.
The second was the bizarre finish to the England vs. West Indies One Day International in Jamaica which was just about the best bit of television I have seen all year. As someone who, as a youngster, was able to play cricket well above my ability level due to my captaincy record I have watched with dismay the ever increasing off-field interference which seems to have resulted in a larger entourage of non playing coaches than actual players.
It was in evidence from an early stage in the West Indies innings on Friday when Dwayne Smith brought a drink and a change of gloves for Ramaresh Sarwan with one wicket down and the Windies a little behind the run rate. Smith spoke non stop to both batsmen for about 20 seconds, while the pair nodded at intervals and then walked off with the same set of gloves he had come on with still in his hand! As a thrilling game reached its climax each batsmen seemed to be concentrating as much on the signals from the dressing room as just playing the game. As the light faded they got their comeuppance as, when offered the chance to come off by the umpires, they responded to the urgings of coach John Dyson and an overweight West Indian official to accept whilst Chris Gayle sat motionless behind. You could see Gayle taking little pleasure in what his coaching staff clearly thought was a victory no doubt feeling that the enthusiastic crowd had been cheated out of the climax to a pulsating game of cricket which hung tantalisingly in the balance.
The best was yet to come however as it was immediately apparent from the TV comments and the smug grins from the England team as they left the field that the West Indian coaching team had made an error of monumental proportions in that they had failed to recalculate from the tables the revised total for the wicket that had just fallen and had actually come off in a losing position. As the light issue was due to night falling and not a big black cloud there was no prospect of play resuming and the pictures of Dyson slowly realising the nature of his error were absolutely priceless.
After the English disasters of recent matches of batting on far too long in matches they had to win and sending in a night watchman who takes a single in the final over of the day only to see the batsman he is supposedly protecting get out to the days final ball, it seems there is a direct correlation in the number of coaches and the ineptitude of the decision making. For such an error to be made by an Aussie just added to my delight though it is hard to believe Messrs Ponting and co being anything like as generous and there is in my opinion no chance of us reclaiming the Ashes this time around.
Hopefully for cricket, already tarnished by the events in Pakistan, the Stanford debacle and the farcical attempts at embracing new technology, it will be a reminder that the game should be controlled by those on the field and not those off it.
I am off to Dubai this week for the World Cup meeting. Much of the detailed research has yet to be done but I was somewhat surprised how short Marchand D’Or has been priced up for the Golden Shaheen and would definitely be a layer both win and place.
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