Tuesday, August 25, 2009

After-Dinner Sports Tales - Phil Tufnell

My after-dinner sports tale for this month is one told by the charismatic and controversial Phil Tufnell, the former England cricket bowler with a talent for spinning the ball on the field and getting into trouble off of it.

Nicknamed 'The Cat' for his ability to sleep anytime, anywhere, Tufnell made his debut for Middlesex in 1986. It was here that he developed a reputation for being a cricketer with big talent, but little dedication for the discipline of the game. He was occasionally in trouble for missing practice or minor matches and once missed a game when shopping for a fridge instead.

Despite brilliant bowling figures, once getting 11 wickets for 93 runs, he was an abysmal batter whose career average did not reach double figures. He played 42 Tests and 20 One Day Internationals for England between 1990 and 2001, and 316 first-class matches, mainly for Middlesex.

Tufnell’s larrikin tendencies meant he was later disciplined for numerous offences to do with birds, booze, drugs and generally offensive behavior.
In 1997 on an England tour to New Zealand he unwittingly became the focus for a publicity campaign for a winebar in Christchurch.

Here is an amusing excerpt from an after-dinner speech made by Phil on that infamous incident in New Zealand in 1997

"I woke one morning to find myself plastered all over the front of the local paper for apparently having smoked grass in the gents at an establishment called Bardelli's. By 10 o'clock that same morning a rash of posters appeared around town declaring, 'Tufnell reckons that Bardelli's is the best joint in town.'
It was complete nonsense, of course. I was invisible at the time."

Tuffers' retired from professional cricket 2003 in order to participate in the reality television show 'I'm a Celebrity.....Get Me Out of Here!' from which he emerged as King of the Jungle. He was a team captain on the sports quiz show 'They Think It's All Over', did analytical punditry on Sky Sports and Channel 4, and has made appearances on current affairs programmes, chat shows and quiz shows. He has co-authored a humorous book called 'Phil Tufnell's' A To Z of Cricket' and wrote his autobiography, 'What Now?'

He is extremely accommodating to people who wish to discuss matters with a sporting celebrity.

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