Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Exclusive - Waugh Diaries, Volume 2006

After the evident popularity of the excerpts from Steve Waugh's autobiography I published earlier this year, I've been on the look out for any other Steve Waugh material that might be available. To begin with the search proved fruitless, but then I was approached in an Earls Court bar by a mysterious bald figure in an Aussie Rules Footy Shirt and a pair of cut-offs. After confirming my identity ("Are you the half wit Pom who write some stupid cricket blog") he thrust an envelope in my hands and muttered ''You might find this interesting - but be very careful''. Before I could question him further he disappeared out of the bar with just a parting whisper - "There's more where that came from if you're interested."

Taking his warning seriously, I waited until I was safely home before opening the envelope. It contained photocopies of two pages from a desk diary. It didn't take me long to realise that what I'd been given were pages from Steve Waugh's own personal 2006 diary.

What I've produced here are edited extracts from those two pages. Bear in mind that there are over 5000 words devoted to each day in Waughs neat, some would say obsessive, handwriting. This is a cricket blog, so I've extracted everything relevent to cricket. Sadly, you must therefore do without Waugh's thoughts on any number of other subjects - Why the Dodo became extinct (He blames climate change and over-hunting), Third World Debt (he can solve it) and Kyle Minogue's debut album (he thinks it's the greatest piece of music every recorded by a human being)

Finally - the message to my contact in Earls Court is ''Yes, I'm interested - please get in touch''.

Friday 24th November 2006

Close of Play, Day 2 - I summoned Ricky Ponting to my room and berated him for several minutes about getting out on 196, when a triple century and a declaration figure of over 750 both clearly beckoned. He appeared very contrite and muttered something along the lines of 'I'll make it up to you Skipper, honest'. With the help of two hours worth of videotape, I then pointed out a couple of technical flaws in his batting and suggested he spend at least four hours in the nets getting things sorted. After I'd given him his bowling changes and detailed field placings for the England innings we parted amicably enough - he off to the nets, and me down to the hotel kitchen to complain about the size of the ice cubes in the hotel bar.

Saturday 25th November 2006

Close of Play, Day 3 - Well, would you believe it - Ricky has made it up to me... and how! Not enforcing the declaration was a decision of such bull-headed, ruthless arrogance that it took even me by surprise. I phoned him to offer my congratulations. 'Was that ok Skipper?' he asked nervously, 'Some of the lads couldn't understand it, and Warnie got so annoyed he threw his mobile phone at me.' I assured him that I was incredibly proud of what he'd done. 'From now on' I said, 'you are my brother'.

Later that evening, I went down to Mark Waugh's room. I walked in and told him, 'Mark Waugh, you are no longer my brother.' He looked up from a supine position on the bed, as he was having a particular sexual act performed on him by a young lady of Fillipino extraction, and glared at me insolently. I left the room, stopping only to point out to the young lady that there were some particular flaws in her technique that she should considering addressing. I then reminded Mark Waugh that the wearing of the baggy green cap probably wasn't quite appropriate for such a situation and went back to my room.

Monday, November 27, 2006

The Harder they Fall

Shane Warne petulantly throwing the ball at KP during the fourth days play could well come to have the same 'key moment' resonance as Simon Jones's throw at Hayden last summer. Obviously there are key difference - Jones was trying for a run out and the ball genuinely slipped - Warne was delberately aiming for Pietersen's head. For Jones and the rest of the England team, the immediate aftermath was the sign that the bullying from Hayden had to stop. The aftermath yesterday was a stunned look from Gilchrist, a stream of abuse from KP and an airly wave of apology from Warne.

From this angle, it seemed like a sign of intense exasperation. A sign that Pietersen is getting to him. Note that all the talk of KP & Shane as 'best mates' has tended to emenate from the Victorian. KP has made a few comments on the subject, but recently has been brushing enquiries aside.

Former NBA legend, Michael Jordan used to have a tactic of befriending any younger opponent who gave him problems on the court. Such was Jordan's legendary status that the opponent would feel flattered to be invited to play golf, or visit a casino with the walking idol. Once the friendship developed, the competitive edge dulled slightly, and Jordan had eliminated a difficult opponent.

You could argue that Alan Border's 'get tough' policy back in 1989 was following the same theory. Mssrs Botham, Lamb and Gower were ready to continue the wining and dining of previous Ashes encounters - Border called a halt to the whole thing, and things have never quite been the same since.

Warne has tried the same thing with KP. Up until about a year ago, KP was probably quite flattered to be associated with one of the greatest cricketers who ever lived, but now the pendulum has swung and Pietersen is the 'Alpha Dog' in the relationship. The other twenty players in the game will recognise this. Australia will worry that their champion might be in decline, and the other England batsmen will get a huge psychological lift.

Few batsmen have ever had the bottle to get in Warne's face verbally, and more importantly the technique to back up words with deeds. Pietersen is doing both and Warne doesn't like it.

Whether he still has the power to do anything about it remains to be seen. The result will have a bearing on the whole series.

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Tomorrow's Fish & Chip Paper

One of the perils of being a professional analyst during an Ashes tour is that newspaper headlines in the morning can rapidly become out of date because of activity the night before.

"Mind you, England's batting does appear fragile. What is Paul Collingwood doing at number four? He is not capable of that role in Australia where the extra bounce can expose his technical limitations. He is a good fighter and he might get a few down the order, but I seriously doubt whether his technique will ever allow him to be a Test-match number four."

Rod Marsh - Observer 26/11/2006

Mind Games

Vic Marks has a pretty good article here about England's options for Adelaide.

The only paragraph I'd really take issue with is this one: -

'Which brings us to Harmison, widely identified as the cornerstone of England's hopes to retain the Ashes, widely castigated for his inept performance in the first Test. First, we should dispense with the simplistic, emotional response that Harmison, because he is bowling poorly, is gutless, devoid of commitment or a hunger to play. These are the sorts of charges players resent the most, the idea that because you play badly, you are somehow a bad person. And they are generally nonsense."

Firstly I don't think Harmison was ever considered the 'cornerstone' to England's chances in this series. There has always been recognition that on his day he is a proven match-winner, but that his days are maddeningly infrequent.

Secondly, and more contentiously, Marks argues that players resent the idea that they are bowling poorly they are not trying. Fair enough, but what spectators resent is not the fact that players perform poorly - we can all have a bad day at the office, it's that Harmison's body language and general demenour suggests that he doesn't give a stuff.

Marks, along with most other commentators, is fond of saying that cricket is played in the head. That's very true - which means that the sight of England's main strike bowler moping back to his mark, and wandering around in the outfield like a lost sheep gives the Australian batsman an enormous psychological boost. They get a similar boost when the same player keeps saying how much he'd rather be at home (it's also quite offensive to a host country) and then says 'sorry' for not asking Ricky Ponting if he was ok after hitting him at Lords last year.

If you can reduce a potentially serious problem to a minor irrelevence in your mind, then you're 95% of the way towards overcoming it.

Happy When it Rains...

Check out this Brisbane forecast for Monday (Posted at 7.45am Sunday, English time - so subject to change) The black cloud and streak of lightning under 'Monday' are something for Ricky to think about - at least it'll take his mind off his bad back... and Glenn McGrath's sore ankle...

Yes, if England escape from this with a draw because of bad weather, it'll be totally and utterly undeserved and an absolute travesty of justice...

Still, as they say in this part of London - "s**t happens, eh"??!!!

Saturday, November 25, 2006

Back, and to the Left...

This headline briefly cheered us up here at TRSM Towers.

In the post below we did suggest that Harmy try to take the Aussies 'out of their comfort zone' - though we weren't quite expecting outright assassination...


Dear Harmy

I know the chances of you actually reading this are pretty slim (as slim as England's chances of saving this test in fact) but I know that some journalists dip in and out, so maybe someone might wave it under your nose.

In case you weren't aware, television coverage of test matches in Australia starts around midnight back here in the UK. That means that millions of cricket lovers here are going without sleep and putting in pretty shoddy days at the office in the name of 'following England'. In addition a lot of the England supporters you can see in the Gabba have spent their life savings on the trip.

Bearing that in mind, I have to say we deserve better from you than the abject contribution you've turned in so far. 'Shoddy days at the office' fits quite nicely in fact...

We know that Freddie Flintoff is your best mate and that the hope was that he'd be able to motivate you to perform. Well, the fact is, I'd say you're bloody lucky that he is your mate, because a lot of skippers I've played under would have taken you behind the pavilion and ripped you a new one for the big girls blouse display you've put on over the past couple of days.

We know you're homesick - Lord knows you tell us often enough, but sometimes professional sportsmen just have to get on with it. You are being paid good money to do something that thousands of us would do for nothing - yet all we seem to hear is your whining about how much you miss being at home.

Talking of 'telling us' - you need to do something about your whole attitude to interviews. Go and find a copy of 'Bull Durham'. Not only is it an excellent film, but it contains the best advice ever given to a sportsman on how to carry out media interviews. In short, you just repeat bland statements about how you're pleased to have the opportunity to play, you'll do your best, and with God's will you should be successful. That's it - that's all you have to say.

You know what - if you're missing home that much, and don't feel you can contribute anything to England's performance, why not just get on the next plane home? The England team management have invested a lot of time and credibility in you, and your way of paying them back appears to be by strolling round the outfield in a blue funk because everything's not going right for you. Your body launguage suggests you'd rather be somewhere else entirely. OK, then go away. Let's give someone like Saj Mahmod or Liam Plunkett a go - two people who actually seem to care.

In Australia, more than most other countries, the new ball is crucial. Batsmen need to be taken out of their comfort zone from the word go. Why not try doing that? Try bowling a stream of bouncers, try going down the wicket and abusing the batsman... for heavens sake, why not try bowling a beamer? (Only don't tell anyone I told you...) At least it'll give Hayden and Langer something to think about - because at the moment all they're having to do is wait for the next long hop or half volley to put away - and at the same time Freddie is standing at slip, worrying about the next ball that's going to head in his direction, and thinking 'maybe I should just take the new ball myself'.

Lastly, don't ever, ever, EVER, apologise to an Australian again - at least if you do, don't do it in the media. England (that's the team you're playing for by the way) gained precisely nothing from your apology to Ricky Ponting, whilst Australia got a good laugh and a big psycological boost.

I know this has probably been gratuitously nasty - maybe even rather childish, but that's the way I feel right now. I don't think you actually care enough about the outcome to be playing for your country - whereas there are millions of us who probably care too much.

If you prove me wrong and start performing in the rest of the series, I'll very happily issue an abject apology.

Yours sincerely

One very disgruntled England fan.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

The End of the Beginning

The 'Phoney war' started at around 8pm on the 12th September 2005, outside the White Bear in Kennington Park Road, SE11, when two Australians impressed on me (and my very drunk friends) that we would 'seriously cop it' next winter Down Under...

The same 'Phoney war' ends in around 24 hours time in Brisbane when Steve Harmison will steam in and remove either Justin Langers head, or his off-stump... either will suit!

To say the atmosphere at the Gabba will be intense is a serious understatement - I'd guess that the intensity will reach levels never before attained in Test Cricket. (In passing, I'm happy for any witnesses to an India/Pakistan test to contradict me here, but I'd remind you that a full house on such occasions is pretty much a pre-requisite...)

It's the intensity level that needs to be borne in mind when you consider Duncan Fletcher's attitude to team selection during this series.

Go back and watch the DVDs of the 2005 series again (go on, you know you want to!) From the word go, England were in the Aussies faces - and stayed there throughout the entire series. In fact, it all started in the ODI beforehand when Simon Jones faced up to Matthew Hayden. Hayden gave Jones some verbals, and Jones - plus half the England team, gave it back the Hayden in spades. Hayden backed down, genuinely shocked - and things were never quite the same again.

It's got to be like that again - only more so.

Ashley Giles has been there, done that, and got the (mis-spelt) T shirt. Monty Panesar hasn't - and that's the bottom line as far as Fletcher sees it. Panesar's time will come - maybe as soon as the second test, but Fletcher recognises just how lethal and critical the Brisbane Test will be - so Giles will get the nod - assuming he's not overruled by the other selectors.

The same goes for the Jones/Read debate. Yes, Read is the better keeper, and his batting has improved to the extent where he's just as likely to unveil a 50 as Jones - but the bottom line here is 'attitude'. Jones has it bigtime, he gets under the Aussies skin to an extent that Read can only imagine.

So it's Jones & Giles.

Obviously, serious predictions are a total lottery - especially in a game with so many variables as cricket. But here goes...

Top English Run Scorer
- Andrew Strauss, but only by a whisker ahead of KP.

Top English Wicket Taker - Freddie - Let's hope it's something like 25, rather than 15.

Top Australian Run Scorer - Ricky Ponting - Say what you like about his captaincy (and 'worst Australian skipper since Graham Yallop comes to mind) but you can't deny that he's one of the top five Australian batsmen ever. Hussey as a wildcard here.

Top Australian Wicket Taker - Shane Warne (Going out on a limb with that one...)

Series Prediction - My head says 3-1 Australia but my heart says 2-2 -so let's follow the heart! Unlike previous England touring teames, this one will not take a backward step. For the first time since the Botham Era, we have the best all-rounder - and there will also be sufficient numbers of England fans present to ensure that the MCG and SCG will be, at the very least, neutral venues.

Bring it on!

Imitation.... Flattery.... Ropes... Dopes...Etc

Regular TRSM readers will remember this

Check out the paragraph headed 'Pietersen & Lee' - then have a look at this, specifically the second last paragraph...

Seems like Mike Selvey has us in his 'Bookmarks'!

Welcome to my Nightmare

It’s close of play at the end of day one at the Gabba - the scoreboard says - 'Australia 354-1' (Or should that be 1-354?) Hayden is not out 173, Ponting not out 85.

Steve Harmison has shown all the control of a nine-month-old baby that has just eaten a bar of Ex-Lax. Saj has been using a radar that he appears to have bought off a guy wearing a flat cap and a dodgy camel hair coat in Ridley Road market and the critics were right - Hoggard can't swing the kookaburra ball for toffee in Australia. As a result, Freddie has had to bowl 30 overs in the day to keep the overall run rate down below 5 an over, and the skipper is now lying in an oxygen tent and a saline drip in each arm.

The King of Spain has bowled three spells consisting of one over each - his runs off each over looking like Posh Spice's vital statistics - 24-18-22.

Additionally, Andrew Strauss is off the field with a broken finger as a result of dropping a simple chance at slip when Hayden was 7 not out, and is unlikely to be fit again until the fourth test.

Geraint Jones has dropped three sitters behind the stumps and let though a hatful of byes – However, Duncan Fletcher has described his performance as 'promising'...

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Stretching the Elastic

Sometimes something happens in the world of sport that reminds you that your heroes are human - simply flesh and blood, mortal beings like the rest of us.

In the current '24 hour media' dominated age, where sporting icons are created almost overnight, and then dragged down again equally as quickly, and where semi-literature youths barely out of school with all the grace and humility of hyenas, can earn the annual wage of a headmaster in the matter of a week - sometimes it's good (and paradoxically, also painful) to see the human side of a life spent in the harsh glare of the sporting spotlight.

Thus it's been with Marcus Trescothick over the past 48 hours.

The pictures taken at Heathrow Airport at 5am this morning, in time to dominate the morning newspapers, have been genuinely haunting. Compare the sight of Tresco's face in those picture - drawn, haggard and ultimately 'defeated', with the happy glowing figure we saw on the lap of honour at the Oval last September. Through those contrasting images you can start to appreciate just how fragile sporting success, and the fame that accompanies it can be.

In Trescothick's case there was a cruel reversal of the normal story, the body was strong but the mind was weak - a turnaround to the normal fate of a professional sportsman who finds events overtaking him, and finds himself powerless to reverse them.

At this time, we should forget the recriminations as to whether or not he should have been in Australia in the first place, or whether Duncan Fletcher allowed his heart to overrule his head and thus created turmoil within the England squad.

What we should be thinking about is the sad plight of a decent and honest professional sportsman who has given us some unforgettable moments over the years.

Pilgrimages to Taunton might be the order of the day next summer.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Playing with Fire

So, despite our best advice, Duncan Fletcher is choosing the 'exciting but dangerous girlfriend' option. (See 'Read & Jones' here)

When he's wide awake at five o'clock in the morning, tied to the bedposts with a raving lunatic swigging from a bottle of brandy brandishing a carving knife ranting on about how he hasn't done the washing up properly - he shouldn't come running to us!

Joking apart, it's fair to say that Geraint Jones is, apart from Alec Stewart, the best wicketkeeper-batsman in terms of batting ability we've had since dear old Knotty. Everyone has warm recollections of his innings at Trent Bridge in 2005, but it seems that Fletcher has let those recollections cloud his professional judgment. Hopefully now he's been confirmed in the role for the series Jones will be able to relax a bit and his keeping will benefit as a result.

But you do have to feel for Chris Read who could rightfully log a complaint with the United Nations over the ‘cruel and unusual’ punishment he’s had - dropped after faultless keeping in the West Indies - brought back this summer and does all that's asked of him, and then gets canned again with little notice.

Maybe it'll be him brandishing the carving knife...

Dealing with Simple Minds

Hats off to Cricket Australia for their (long overdue) 'zero tolerance' policy on racist abuse. Whilst there must be doubts about the enforceability, it's a huge step in the right direction. I'd guess that their thought is that the big wave of publicity the moves are generating will mean that some of the worst XXXX'ed up Neanderthals will think twice before stooping to gratuitous racism, which can only be a good thing.

When you get such strong statements from the authorities, these problems can eventually become self-policed amongst the fan base themselves. You're more likely to go and have a word with a steward about someone doing passable impressions of racist tosser, and effectively ruining the occasion for a whole section, if you're confident that the guy is going to get more that a friendly pat on the shoulder - which seems to be the current modus operandi in English Test Match Grounds.

The moves have predictably attracted some sarcastic comments in certain sections of the British press - who of course have such a wonderful reputation for campaigning against racism - but before anyone over here gets too critical - try and see if you can remember any ECB reaction to the massed chorus's of ''where's your caravan?'' that Jason Gillespie was subjected to last summer.

Then think of veiled threats made to the players by the authorities when the England team at the last World Cup refused to play in (racist) Zimbabwe -and if your memory stretches far enough, think back to the scandalous behaviour of the MCC during the D’oliviera affair.

Cricket Australia realize they have a problem, which could cast an ugly blight over what should be a memorable series. Commendably they’re doing something about it – they deserve support rather than snide carping.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Ashes Ramblings 2

The soap opera continues: -

Steve says sorry to Ricky - and Ricky just seems to shrug his shoulders and says 'that's cricket mate' while the rest of us are tearing our hair out and thinking about the old days when English fast bowlers used to feast on broken glass and sulphuric acid, and never apologised for anything.

Glenn comes out with a few more barbs, but you can tell he's only going through the motions and his heart isn't really in it.

Duncan reckons he's got his team for the first test already pencilled in. Geraint looks confident, whilst Chris isn't quite so sure.

According to people who know about this sort of thing, the pictures of Freddie in the gym suggest that he is 'well fit' (whatever that means...)

Ashley hasn't been quoted in the press for days now - I suspect laryngitis.

Michael (remember him?) says he might even be ready for the Third Test.

Shane (you must surely remember him?!) says he's looking forward to taking his 700th wicket during this series.

Alistair is still trying to get his haircut (see below)

Only 14 more days of this sort of thing to go...

Saturday, November 04, 2006

Ashes Ramblings 1

Nineteen days to go until Freddie walks out at the Gabba to toss up with Ponting...


Talking of 'Rickeee' - doesn't he remind you of the nervy guy you see in most gangster movies - the one hovering in the background, unable to stand still for very long because he's so wired and uptight. The constant gum-chewing and nervous darting of the eyes, and frequent demands for reassurance when he's consulting with other gang members. Even in moments of apparent calm, he still comes across as a borderline psychotic - Travis Bickle in flannels if you will. If things turn nasty for the Australians, he could well crack - and Freddie knows it...


To the Australians last summer, I suspect Ian Bell was rather like the school new boy - earnest look on his face, pencils all sharpened and blazer clean and tidy, but very easy to torment and woefully wanting when the heat was put on him. Well now the 'new boy' has grown up over the summer holidays, so when they go back for the start of the new term, he's likely to give the 'bullies' quite a nasty fright.

Not that Bell is going to go so far as to pull a knife or anything, - though imagine how much fun that would be. The stump microphone picks up a muttered sledge from Hayden at first slip - which is followed up by an anguished squeal from Gilchrist - ''Jeez, look out Matty - he's got a blade!'' Next thing the players surround Bell, who's got a knife to the throat of a petrified Hayden and is shouting "I'll cut 'im, I'll cut 'im" - until Freddie has to intervene and pull Bell away with the killer line - "Sorry guys, he's liable to do this at any time..."

Up in the Sky TV box Gower would sound alarmed, Nasser would grin to himself, and of course, Botham would tell all and sundry that the knife is nowhere near as big as the one he used to use....

More likely is that Bell will take the opportunity for some serious revenge for past embarrassments. As I've mentioned here before, he's already strutting around as though he owned the place - where better to pick up the title deeds than Perth or Melbourne?


Andrew Strauss seems to have developed two public persona for the media - which is at least two more than Liam Plunkett - the early favourite in the 'surplus to requirements' stakes this winter.

Strauss has obviously thought long and hard about his TV appearances. Firstly, he almost comes across like a regretful Bond villian, sitting in the dressing room ponderously stroking a white cat, saying stuff like - ''Personally I abhor violence on the cricket field Mr Langer, but my colleague Oddjob (Harmy) isn't so fastidious''- but then he seems to remember his roots and puts on the 'Public School/Middlesex CC' act during a TV interview, and suddenly he's an updated Terry-Thomas - likely to turn round and tell the Aussie slip cordon that they are a 'frightful shower'. A bit like Mike Atherton's "when in Rome old boy" comment to Ian Healey at Adelaide in 1994 when the keeper took issue with Athers for not walking after a blatant edge had been missed by the umpire.

Read & Jones

Here's a new take on the Read/Jones debate. Think of them like girlfriends. In this scenario Jones is the absolute stunner who makes all your friends jealous when she's clinging to your arm, shows you the best possible time for a couple of months, but then turns out to have worryingly unstable moments, like stripping off at a party, or downing a bottle of bacardi in one. Fun, and for a short time exhilarating yes, but after a while you start craving the quiet life - which is where Read comes in. Read is the sensible choice - the girlfriend you can take home to meet your mother without worrying that she might make a pass at your father, or throw up in the flowerbed at a family BBQ.

Trust me on this - the first time Read goes across in front of first slip and makes the catch, rather than pushing the ball round the post which was a Jones speciality, you'll know exactly what I mean.


Talking of 'first slip' - it's all been very quiet on the Trescothick front lately. Unlike Ashley Giles, whose default position seems to be 'rentaquote', 'Tresco' has been Mr Invisible since the end of the season. I was half expecting him to turn up as a guest in the Sky Studio during the ICC trophy - a role which was just designed to attract the comment 'money for old rope' - but then perhaps he, quite rightly, thought that exposure to Charles Colville for longer the five minutes is enough to drive the most sober mind to turmoil, so maybe his therapist cautioned against it.


Different tack - In 'Good Morning Vietnam', Robin Williams makes a comment about the uptight Regimental Sargeant Major who has been making his life a misery, along the lines of "I've never met a guy more in need of a 'haircut' ". Actually, he didn't use the word 'haircut' - I'm using a subtle euphamism as this is a family site. Well Alistair Cook seems the painfully quiet type, seemingly very much in need of a 'haircut' - after which he'll be giving it out to the Aussies in spades - to the extent that he'll be looking to have his 'haircut' every day....

Pietersen & Lee (!!)

When Kevin Pietersen comes up against Brett Lee in Brisbane , the testosterone will probably be visible from the stands. Beforehand, Duncan Fletcher should make Kevin watch the classic film 'When we were Kings' and start talking to him about Muhammad Ali's 'Rope-a-dope' philosophy which made such a mess of George Foreman that he turned into a kitchen appliance salesman.

Translated to cricket, 'rope-a-dope' will mean letting Lee blow himself out during the day with a series of bouncers and short pitched balls, then absolutely weighing into the exhausted, weak-ass stuff he serves up in the last session. If Pietersen can contain himself sufficiently when three out of six balls are aimed at his face (A HUGE 'if') then it could change the course of the series. If he can't then we're likely to see the Test Match version of the old backgarden game - 'six and out'.


A philosopher once said that only three things in life are ever predictable - life, death and taxes. Let me add a fourth - before the end of the series Saj Mahmood will provoke Glen McGrath into such an irrational strop that the Australian's head will explode in the middle of the pitch like in a scene from 'Scanners'. We've already establsihed that dear old Glenn is the sort who could start an arguement in an empty room. Add the fact that Saj seems to be a 'wind up merchant' of the highest order, and we could be in for a very entertaining series!

That's all for now - more soon.

PS - The shoulder is much better - thanks for asking!