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English media unamused by jellybean joke

August 1, 2007

Interesting reactions in the British press to the jellybean jape. Martin Johnson, in the Telegraph, sees the funny side of it.

There is an argument that the jelly bean business was all a bit of harmless fun, as it might have been had Mike Gatting been batting instead of Zaheer Khan. Gatt would simply have picked it up and eaten it. However, it certainly got up the Indians' collective nose, and Zaheer had so much to say to the England batsmen yesterday he was more in need of a throat lozenge than a jelly bean.

Just about the only time he wasn't chuntering away was when he had a mouthful of food down on the boundary. All this sledging clearly gives a chap an appetite, as quite apart from the unusual sight of the 12th man running on to the field to deliver a sandwich, there were only 15 minutes to go before tea.

Zaheer's new-ball partner, Shantha Sreesanth, took a slightly different view, and decided to let the ball do the talking. The beamer (beaner?) he fired at Kevin Pietersen's head must have caused Pietersen's life to flash before his eyes - a life so action-packed, incidentally, Kev has modestly recorded it in hardback - 18.99 pounds at all good bookshops.

Alison Mitchell, on the Test Match Special blog, suggests that the key to a good joke is knowing when to stop.

So at what point does banter become a slur? When does a childish joke become an affront? Timing is everything in comedy, and in the case of the jelly beans, the joke went on too long. The Preamble to the Laws says it is against the Spirit of the Game to seek to distract an opponent (perhaps MCC will seek to add 'with jelly beans or other candy').

Respect for your opponents is also integral and the danger is that one person's quip can soon become another person's aspersion.

Image: Former England player Mike Gatting gestures during the Legends Twenty20 match between Australia and England at the WACA on December 12, 2006 in Perth, Australia.

Also read: India score thumping win over England

  • India in the United Kingdom 2007
    Photographs: Getty Images
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