The Press Tent Daily: Pitch battle

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Sale of the century

We’ve always found Charlie Sale’s Daily Mail diary a weird thing. It’s like someone said “What if there was a sport version of Heat magazine?” and got money thrown at them instead of a punch in the face.

The great man is in Melbourne at the moment, though, and that means we get an Ashes special.

He’s got all the scoops that the daft cricket journalists have missed while foolishly focusing on the actual cricket.

The nuggets Sale has uncovered include:

  • Merv Hughes didn’t recognise the great Charlie Sale at the MCG.
  • England ops manager Phil Neale still has a suntan despite the Australian weather not being as good as it sometimes is.
  • Michael Vaughan has criticised some England players on BT Sport even though he is friends with them.
  • Bob Willis presented Tom Curran with his England cap.

Tremendous stuff.

Best of all, though, are a couple of exclusives about Stuart Broad. Now, Press Tent resides in internetland and knows how lucky it is to do so. We try not to take the piss out of dear old paper media when the inevitable deadlines and lead times involved make them look silly.

But we can’t deny enjoying the fact that Sale’s column about “England’s struggling opening bowler” and a “possible escape route into television” was out of date well before it landed on the doormats of the country’s suburban racists.

Even without Broad’s 4-51 at the MCG making that imminent retirement look a bit less likely, we’re not sure “Attractive, intelligent, well-spoken man with over 100 England Test caps might have future on Sky Sports commentary team” is quite the scoop Sale seems to think it is.

If you’re a man who treats something as important as sport like it’s trivial celebrity tittle-tattle, then you might as well fully commit and focus on the juicier stuff about newly single Broad’s invite to join “exclusive dating app” Tinder Select and, even more tantalising, the “two other members” of the England touring party whose applications were less successful. We’ve got a couple of guesses, but our weary and overworked lawyers have been quite firm about this.

Pitch battle

We long ago gave up trying to deduce what a cricket pitch was liable to do. We reckon everyone in this sport would be far happier if they just all admitted that they don’t have a single damn clue how that pernicious 22 yards of unpredictable turf will behave in the first session, never mind what it might do or not do over the following five days.

Once you embrace ignorance, you avoid having to make the swift volte face every single pundit has had to make in the last 24 hours as the MCG pitch was downgraded from “absolute road” to “two-paced” via “tricky to score on”.

Let’s pick on one because we can.

Vaughan’s not alone, though. Everyone does it. There was widespread agreement that it looked a belter. Steve Smith thought so. Joe Root definitely thought so. Everyone at the pitch report thought so. David Warner thought so and, to be fair, made it so for a couple of hours.

So our advice then. Stop offering any opinion on the pitch beyond what you can literally see it doing at any one time. And stop listening to those who do.