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Danger! Nonce warning sign

John Littlerichard is back

There's nonce-sense going on at the ECB, and it's backs against the wall for Darren Gough's less than dazzling new TV show.


I'm getting the word ... nonce!

It was Clinton Baptiste, the camp psychic in Phoenix Nights, who famously said during his memorably insensitive performance: "I'm getting the word ... nonce!"

It's a shame Clinton Baptiste wasn't hired to do a turn at the ECB Christmas party; he might have saved them the reputed £23,000 that 'strength and conditioning coach' Marques Church racked up on child pornography at their expense whilst employed there, according to newspaper reports this week (I can't fathom out the 23K bit either but there you go).

picture of pervert Marques Church
Church of the poisoned mind

I hadn't previously heard of Mr. Church or knew that such a post existed. Rather naïvely I had assumed that well-paid sportsmen such as the England cricket team, who have been professional 'athletes' since the ages of 17 or 18, might know a bit about diet, nutrition, fitness regimes and how to generally keep themselves in shape. Apparently not. The ECB felt it needed to employ 31-year-old Kiwi Church to teach them how to do it.

Church's barrister told the bench at Loughbrough Magistrates Court that he became obsessed with the images after the breakdown of his long-term relationship. Am I the only one who fails to see the logic of that connection? On the many occasions that Mrs. Littlerichard has kicked me out I have never once felt the urge to type the words "child rape" into Google images.

Church will, rightly, go to prison when sentenced later this week. He can then use his knowledge of strength and conditioning whilst in the communal showers trying to avoid the fate of the poor abused children in those ECB funded pictures that he spent his days drooling over.

Holidays in the sun

As the County Championship reaches its final round of matches there is still everything to play for. The mouthwatering prospect of another last-day decider is a reminder - if one was ever needed - of the genuinely exciting sport that the County Championship throws up. When was the last time the football Premiership went to the wire?

Last week as the penultimate round of games started you might have thought that each county team would have been able to maximize their chances of success by playing their best X1s ...

Well, you'd be wrong.

picture of Allen Stanford
Sandford: Farty Owls

At Liverpool the loyal Lancs fans who enjoy their little bits of cricket there every year were denied seeing Lancashire's two best players - Flintoff and Anderson - in their crucial relegation tussle with Kent. Similarly there was no Collingwood for Durham's big game, no Cook for Essex, Pietersen for Hampshire or Bell for Warwickshire and so on. The reason? ... they were all having a rest! You see England have got a big game coming up - in November - and we don't want them to be tired out now do we? Especially as it's the Sandford Millions match.

It's clear that the ECB couldn't care less about county cricket supporters - those bread-and-butter fans who are the bedrock of domestic cricket. In fact if the County Championship is what floats your boat then the ECB hates you with a passion and as soon as they can kill it off for good they will. To them you are luddites; locked in the past, somehow impervious to the joys of Twnety20 and watching Matt Prior becoming a millionaire.

Personally I would have thought that players like Collingwood and Flintoff, who play for their counties of birth, would prefer to be on the field helping their side to victory rather than being on their backside at home watching Eggheads.

England's contracted 'stars' might be enjoying a nice three-month holiday, but the poor fans of Yorkshire have had to contend with Michael Vaughan's ECB endorsed attempts to get himself back into form (at the expense of the in-form already Andrew Gale) thus effectively derailing the Tykes' attempts at staying in Division 1.

Let's face it - Vaughan has less chance of getting runs than an Immodium addict on a diet of boiled eggs.

Vaughan's ludicrous notion that he's going to play county and club cricket until his form comes back is a fantasy that makes the Harry Potter films look like an episode of Casualty directed by Ken Loach. His new 'injury' thankfully lets Yorkshire quietly drop him and will allow the selectors to omit him from their next squad.

Meanwhile lets savour the last knockings of the best domestic cricket tournament in the world and may the best team win.

Darren's TV Hell

Talking of Yorkshire, did anyone else see Darren Gough's appearance as team captain on BBC1's new Saturday evening blockbuster The Hole in the Wall?

Here in the BBC's own words is a description of the delights on offer in this new primetime show.

Dale Winton hosts a series in which two teams of celebrities captained by dancing star Anton Du Beke and cricket legend Darren Gough, must try and force themselves through various crazy-shaped holes in giant moving walls.

Clad head-to-toe in tight silver Lycra. there's everything to play for, as failure results in a head first plunge into a swimming pool.

No, I'm not making this up.

Goughie's celebrity teammates were Mrs. Reg Holdsworth and the camper-than-Christmas Renaissance Man Andi Peters. They were playing against Ballroom dancer Du Beke, a nondescript female Blue Peter presenter and the effeminate one out of The Hairy Bikers.

picture of Darren Gough poncing about
Goughie in the corridor of uncertainty

Presented by Dale Winton, the contestants spent the show dressed in figure-hugging Lycra catsuits and had to bend themselves into various shapes to avoid being knocked into the pool.

It was like watching one of Michael Barrymore's wet dreams. But it was not awlright! It was perhaps the worst television programme ever broadcast.

Gough has been a terrific ambassador for cricket and his contribution to England and Yorkshire has been immense. In fact he has been one of the greatest ever English cricketers.

Darren ... I know all retired players have to make a living but with your personality and enthusiasm there will be opportunities within cricket for you. That's guaranteed. What you as a dignified ex-player and Yorkshire captain shouldn't be doing is humiliating yourself on an execrable television show that made Gladiators look like Citizen Kane.

What next? Will the BBC be bringing back Are You Being Served with David Byas as the new Mr. Humphreys? Or perhaps they will recommision Julian and Sandy with Brian Close and Ray Illingworth.

Of course not.

So lets hope the Dazzler's incursion into the world of showbiz is a mercifully short one and instead he's brought back into the game to help others do what he knows best - stuffing the Aussies.