Yesterday Setanta employed noted former cricketer and radio persona Ronnie Irani as their IPL in-studio instant analyser. His mission: to give us the inside track, to be our mole, our secret agent; letting us in on what really goes on behind the scenes and explaining the nuances of the wonderful game to the uninitiated.
And we learnt many things yesterday. We now know, for instance, that Kevin Pietersen and Shane Warne have something of a rivalry. Yes it’s true and apparently that meant that both of them were really trying to win the game for their respective teams. We discovered that playing in the IPL is a great opportunity for the players; the IPL is quite exciting; Tendulkar is a really good batsman and Freddie will be a bit disappointed with his performance.
So obviously, I was keen today to add to my store of knowledge and when the new studio guest was unveiled as one Darren Gough, my cup ranneth over. A fine bowler, a belligerent blade swinger and a good mover in the ballroom, Goughie was sure to embroider the fine cloth of the afternoon’s entertainment with the golden thread of insight.
It is difficult to sum up the full effect of an afternoon with Goughie, but I will give you just a flavour. Early on, he ruffled a few feathers by tipping everyone’s favourite losers the Kings XI Punjab. Hello, I thought, this is more like it. Controversy. A maverick opinion. Excited, the studio presenter pressed him further. What was it about the Kings XI that made him pick them out as tournament winners? Turned out that Goughie liked Brett Lee, he liked the boy Sreesanth and he was enamoured of Marsh and Hopes.
It matters not that one of them will miss the whole tournament and the other three will be unavailable until the second half. Their influence will be felt strongly in their absence. Unfortunately, on this occasion, the phantom Lee, the invisible Sreesanth and the cardboard cut-outs of Hopes and Marsh proved unable to overcome the Delhi Daredevils and Punjab received a predictable and not entirely unenjoyable spanking.
Of course, Yuvraj had other players available, such as the talented Indian batsman Kamran Goel who blazed away so effectively at the top of the order. What, the studio presenter wondered, did Goughie think of him? “To be honest,” opined the Dazzler, “I’ve never heard of him.” Eat your heart out, Nasser Hussain.
Now to anyone who thinks that this is just a cheap shot at the expense of a great player, they are of course correct. But I would offer one slight mitigating circumstance in my defence. If the only requirement for obtaining a seat in a Setanta studio is the capacity to state the bleeding obvious, or to look down a list of names and spot the good players, then I’m sure there are many cricket fans out there who would happily do the job for a fraction of the fee earned by Mr Irani or Mr Gough. Heck, I’d do it for nothing.