Happy New Year everybody. What can I tell you about what I've been up to while I've been off your screens?
We've been working on our new house and we're almost finished. If you've been following me on Twitter you'll know that I bought 'Vipers' (the lady of the house) some very thoughtful Christmas presents this year.
She got some wallpaper and all the kit you need to put it up, plus some kneepads for when she's cleaning the paving stones. However, the best gift has to be the Tommy Walsh all-purpose tool belt I got for her. She was thrilled.
I usually get her an ironing board cover and oven gloves always go down well, but I think she was very happy with this year's haul.
I still think the best appointment is John Inverarity as their full-time national selector. He's a brilliant man and even though he's 67-years-old, he's proved there's always room for an old 'un.
Quotes of the week
As for the Regiment, the big news over Christmas was the Old Tom-athon, which is a similar test of endurance to the Grand Slam of Naan.
Old Tom is a nine per cent Robinsons ale, which is usually served in half-pint measures. A select few members of the Regiment (of which I wasn't one) tried to drink an entire barrel of the stuff.
The landlord was last seen hosing down the pub...
There's been plenty of sport to enjoy over Christmas. I really enjoyed watching the darts, John Gwynne and Stuart Pyke are sensational commentators, but I am sorry to hear Sid Waddell isn't well. We're all behind him. Get well soon Sid!
There was some terrific racing at Kempton on Boxing Day too and I've been right into the footy. There's been some strange results in the last few days.
Darts, racing, football... it's all been great and I'm now planning a trip to the dogs. I want to take the family to Belle Vue for an evening out. Put a bet on, have a good meal... what could be better?
I've certainly enjoyed the cricket as well, though I must confess I haven't been getting up in the middle of the night to watch it all. I've been catching up a bit later on.
There's a terrific series going on in South Africa. I watched the second Test and Sri Lanka were excellent value for the win, but Jacques Kallis has continued to show that he is consistently world class.
And down in Australia, the home side finally seem to be getting over the loss of Warne and McGrath and are getting themselves a decent pace attack.
Ricky Ponting has shown what a great fighter he is and Michael Clarke has adapted to captaincy well, but I still think the best appointment is John Inverarity as their full-time national selector. He's a brilliant man and even though he's 67-years-old, he's proved there's always room for an old 'un.
He knows cricket inside out and is the best coach I've seen in the English county game. He took Warwickshire to the title, but he was never an up-and-at-'em tracksuit coach. He would just walk out in his suit and flat cap, chat to his players and oversee his coaches.
He didn't think he would get the Australia job because of his age, but it's been a great appointment and I think they are going the right way.
Pitching it right
As for India, it seems they just can't do it away from home. If you talk to the players they expect to win on their home turf but the challenge is to do it abroad - and that's the challenge for every international team.
People who follow India seem to think they're going to win all the time, but it doesn't happen. Their batters find it so difficult to cope with the bouncing ball.
Throughout the history of the game, the best matches are when there's pace and bounce. When you go to the subcontinent I expect the ball to spin and I have no problem with that; whoever has the best players for spin wins the game.
I think it's better when it spins from ball one, but I cannot stand it when it's just a flat run-fest. I can't be doing with that.
I think England will find pitches with some pace in them when they get to the UAE to play Pakistan. If you look at recent history, the quicker bowlers have done the job on those pitches. I don't think it will come down to spin.
Even though Pakistan have troubles with the players that have been sent to jail they've still got some good bowlers, in particular Saeed Ajmal and Umar Gul. They have a decent team and will be comfortable in those conditions.
So this will be a tough challenge for England and I know the players won't see this as a stroll. It will be hard work for them both in the Emirates and in Sri Lanka and it will be a good test for their number one status.
I've got to be honest with you, I'm really looking forward to getting over there and getting back to work.
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Kg venkatesh Kg venkatesh says...
The Indian Cricket team debacle in first two test matches shows the lack of application and termination from so called top batsman and bowling lacks aggression and other side the senior players of Australian team set an example to rest of the team ,this matters always
Posted 13:47 7th January 2012
Stuart Taylor says...
Old Tom 8.5%. available online from the Robinson website.
Posted 20:46 4th January 2012
Harry Bond says...
Very nice Bumble! See you're still in a good mood even though England have been out of action for yonks!
Posted 18:32 4th January 2012
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