Bumble on the rampage
Rob Houwing’s ‘Tops on the Telly’ column
Eternally humorous and good-natured, I imagine most cricket enthusiasts share my pleasure in listening to David “Bumble” Lloyd whenever SuperSport picks up a Sky commentary feed.
This was the case on Wednesday, when England hosted India in a lone T20 international at jam-packed Old Trafford (blessed by the sort of lingering sunset so seldom guaranteed in Manchester).
The trend worldwide on television is to present T20 matches in a lighter, more youth-minded way and although Bumble is anything but a spring chicken at 64, his engaging, witty manner still makes him a pleasing microphone presence at the format.
There were some great little features during gaps in play ... and none of them, thankfully, involved the penchant in some parts of the world for roving reporters to conduct snap interviews with random fans.
SuperSport do this a fair bit, and my view is that it adds nothing: fans asked mundane questions at short notice almost always have spectacularly little of any consequence to say.
But on this occasion we had some little gems, like a video clip of Lloyd (an eight Test-cap England all-rounder once, let’s not forget) the previous day going big with the blade over midwicket in some sort of media/charity match.
The camera caught him making meaty contact with the ball, and then tracked its progress ... smack through the windscreen of a parked vehicle!
“And into the howling gale, that was,” enthused Bumble 24 hours later of his lusty blow in typical, tongue-in-cheek fashion.
During the short change of innings, some of the Sky commentary team, seated in one of the dugouts, got popular “Freddie” Flintoff to saunter over, accompanied by his young son, for an entertaining chat.
Sadly forced prematurely out of the game by unrelenting injury, the now 33-year-old former crowd favourite could not hide a pinch of sadness as he said: “I’m enjoying what I do these days ... but (pointing to the middle) I’d still swap it all for six hours out there, you know.”
It was interesting that both standing umpires on view at Old Trafford – Rob Bailey and Richard Illingworth – are former England internationals while the “TV ump” Nigel Llong is also a former first-class player with Kent.
I know “Llongie” fairly well from his stint in Western Province Premier League cricket in the late 1980s.
*On that topic, Inside Edge on SS2 did well the previous night to have Marais Erasmus as a studio guest.
The genial former Boland seam bowler has risen rapidly through the ranks to become one of the top three umpires in the international game alongside Aleem Dar and Simon Taufel, by my humble estimation ...
Rob’s awesome foursome
1. Blue Bulls v Sharks, Absa Currie Cup rugby
Pretoria, Saturday 17:05, M-Net, SS1 & SHD
After a shocker of a start to the 2011 campaign, the Bulls “ship” seems back on an even keel – they’ve got three successive wins beneath the belt and now a home tussle with defending champions the Sharks arguably comes at a good time. John Plumtree’s charges, remember, were most unconvincing in last week’s defeat to the log-leading Lions in Johannesburg, minus even the consolation of a losing bonus point. Their best hope is a fierce backlash performance, but I tip the Bulls’ tight five (featuring only one non-Springbok in Juandre Kruger and perhaps a miffed customer in the RWC-snubbed Flip van der Merwe) to lay the foundation for a fairly narrow triumph at Loftus.
2. England v India, 1st ODI cricket
Chester-le-Street, Saturday 11:15, SS2 & SH2
There are a couple of televised Test matches on the go at present, too, but for prime-time Saturday entertainment value cricket fans may be lured more strongly to this ODI series opener in the north-east of England. India were encouragingly more competitive in the T20 duel at Old Trafford, so here’s hoping for a similarly ding-dong battle this time. It’s the first of five 50-overs encounters. Look out for Johannesburg-born quickie Jade Dernbach for the home side: he was impressively multi-skilled in bagging 4/22 at Manchester – a record-equalling T20 analysis for England with Paul Collingwood.
3. Griquas v Western Province, Absa Currie Cup rugby
Kimberley, Saturday 15:00, M-Net, SS1 & SHD
Another intriguing match-up, this. Griquas, cruelly, are an endangered species as far as the future shape of the Currie Cup is concerned – and they seem to be on an earnest mission (who can blame them?) to embarrass our rugby bosses. They came from behind to knock over the Cheetahs in a derby last weekend, and now set their sights on another big-union scalp, a currently rookie-heavy WP. Remember that Griquas drew at Newlands in the first-round scrap, so probably fancy their chances on their unforgiving home turf. Me? I’ve tipped the visitors to have enough nous to steal it by around six points, though ...
4. Niger v South Africa, Afcon soccer qualifier
Niamey, Sunday 16:30, SABC1 (likely)
There’s a time-honoured tradition of a broadcast-rights kerfuffle, days – and sometimes even hours – ahead of matches Bafana play “in Africa”, as they say. This fixture was no different, although at the time of writing on Thursday afternoon the SABC claimed to be making fair headway in negotiations ... here’s hoping, then. A win in Niamey (where the average daytime high apparently never goes below 32 deg C) guarantees the national side, who will be missing a few injured stalwarts, a place in next year’s Afcon tournament in Gabon/Equatorial Guinea. Bafana are not conceding goals easily, and might just nick one themselves for a happy return flight.