Tuesday, August 19, 2008

do NOT flay your fists; it'll hurt

I'm going to take a punt and conclude that ex-Australian opening batsman Justin Langer doesn't employ a ghost-writer for his occasional columns on the BBC Sport website, and furthermore that he fancies himself as a bit of a dab hand with a pen in his hand, just as he is with a bat.

If he did employ a ghost-writer, or at the very least a copy editor of some sort, that editor might have made a few comments about Langer's recent piece about Mark Ramprakash's 101st first-class century (following quickly on the heels of number 100, now the pressure's off). He might have said, for instance: look, Justin, the "eye of the storm" bit here is OK, if a bit flowery:

In his stance he is so still, it is as if he is meditating and minding his own business as the bowlers rush in to the wicket. His stillness is comparable to the eye of a storm.
....but you might want to watch the metaphors a bit, particularly here:

Within this serene and almost peaceful pose is the spirit of a prize fighter who is ready to unleash his fury on the ball, which is granted such a limited margin for error.
That's OK, I suppose, but:

Etched in his face and synonymous by the muscles jutting from his clenched jaw is an aggression and determination reserved usually for a prize fighter.
....I'm not sure "synonymous by the muscles" is actually proper English, you know. And enough with the prize fighter thing, already.

In one moment you see a Zen master weighing up his options, the next it is like Ricky Hatton flaying his fists and decimating another opponent.
You've done it again, haven't you? And I'm not sure what you think flaying means, but I'm pretty sure it doesn't mean what you think it means. There's been reams of stuff written about the correct usage of decimating, so I won't expand on it here. And while we're on the subject, what's all this about?

Standing in the slips with Marcus Trescothick we were discussing the prospect of a 2,000-run season. As he pointed out, he has had what would be considered a great season so far and yet he is still 900 runs away from the illusive and almost mystical 2,000-run mark.
Well, I suppose you could mean illusive, but I'm pretty sure what you actually mean here is elusive, isn't it? Unless you mean allusive?

This is all very nit-picky, and, given that this isn't Langer's day-job, his not being Graham Greene is entirely forgivable, certainly more so than a whole novel of utter drivel.

Talking of Langer reminds me of another item from the sporting lexicon as touched upon here - left-handed batsmen are grouped for journalistic purposes into two categories: the tall willowy elegant variety such as Garry Sobers or David Gower or Graeme Pollock, and the shorter pugnacious variety personified in years gone by by Allan Border, and more recently by Graham Thorpe. The almost universal adjective of choice here is, for some reason, "nuggety". Google "nuggety left-hander" and you'll get (as of today, anyway) 175 hits, Google "nuggety right-hander" and you'll get 6.

Just to prove the point, the first three hits for "nuggety left-hander" refer to Gary Kirsten, Mark Richardson and Langer himself.

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