Frank Keating

Article excerpt

Hold that summer, Hoddle's team still have to grab their honeymoon

So May's out, merrily cast those clouts. Midsummer June is flaming. Lazy blue-bright reclining days, all butterfly-bobbing and made for chewing succulent grass stems and swigging cider from cool stone jars . . . and the plink of fuzz on catgut, the plock of leather on willow in the meadow. Tennis in Paris's blissful Bois is already under way and, at leafy Edgbaston, the first Ashes Test match begins on Thursday 5 June.

But hang on a mo, what's this? Hunter left this space for his hols in his hills far too early. This weekend winter's far-too-familiar mudlarks continue to barge and muscle and mock the summer. England's footballers demand all space for their World Cup qualifier in Poland. Scotland's are in Malta. Rugby's British Lions are in South Africa - Ireland's in New Zealand, and even England's 2nd XV is in Argentina. And it's not so much the plink of tennis in Paris but the Pow! Ughh! of rugby league where more will be watching Wigan's so-called Warriors.

Suspend summer for another month.

Just as well, methinks, that English cricket's expectations should be put on hold. The one-dayers against Australia last weekend - three resplendent landslides out of three - so caught the new bonny breezes since 2 May that you suspected half the beaming old buffers in the pavilion long-rooms at the Oval and Lord's had popped in on their way to get their flags and bunting from Millbank or the Walworth Road.

To be enjoyed while stocks last. What with one thing and another, the Australians were dreadfully under-prepared. By Thursday morning at Edgbaston, you wait, there will be a very different kettle of copper out there. Still, as in other matters, can't say things are looking too unrosy for Atherton's men, honeymoon-wise, as they say.

After eight months in the charge of the lugubrious, murmuring and monk-like Glenn Hoddle, England's soccer team has yet to manage even a quickie weekend honeymoon. They had better make sure of one in Chorzow. It is a crucial game and England unquestionably need to, as Hoddle mutters, "come away with something out of it".

Poland have handed the black spot to England two or three times in the World Cup. …