was looking at peace with the world as he relaxed on the visitors'
balcony watching his Middlesex team mates take on Durham in a Sunday
League match at the Riverside during May.
due to a couple of niggling injuries and the limited amount of turn
revealed in the Riverside wicket during the just completed County
Championship match, the oft-troubled England left-arm spinner was
in upbeat mood as he talked about the host venue, his media work
and chances of playing in the Ashes this summer.
to play in the one-day stuff," he said, as the Middlesex physio
massaged his injured ankle. "If the pitch is looking like it'll
take a bit of turn I'll usually play but if not we have plenty of
seaming all-rounders (at Middlesex) and that's what we decided to
go with in this match."
lasted the course of the preceding Championship match and had guarded
praise for the Riverside wicket: "It's a good batting pitch
here as the match scores indicated but there wasn't that much in
for the spinners. Producing the perfect wicket - good for the seamers
early on, flattening out for the middle part of the game, then favouring
the spinners towards the end - is not as easy as people seem to
think. The Riverside's a good pitch but lacks a little bit of 'oomph'.
The bounce is even but it's not easy to score quickly on."
like playing at the Riverside? "Yeah. We always get a good
welcome up here, there's some good banter with the crowd which our
boys enjoy, there's a great pavilion and great facilities."
He sees no reason
why the ground can't stage a Test Match sooner rather later. "The
far side of the ground needs a bit of development," he continued.
"But why not play a five-day Test Match here? The facilities
are spot on for international cricket and the fan base is here -
people love their cricket in the North East. What more do you need?"
Tufnell is high
on praise for the Durham youngsters, picking out Paul Collingwood
as a player with an outstanding future in the game. He was also
impressed by the performance of Nicky Peng, who made a century in
the Championship match, and reckons he could go to play for England.
"It's a bit early to say, he's only 18, but he's shown some
potential. He's had a poor run of scores leading up to the match
but that hundred will give him great confidence. If he hadn't played
that knock we'd have made you follow-on and probably beaten you."
He's also confident
that Martin Love will prove to be a good signing for Durham. Tufnell
had the Australian stumped in the second innings with what he modestly
describes as "a beautiful piece of bowling", but believes
he'll score a lot of runs by the time the season's out. "He's
an ACB contracted guy, so he's bound to be able to bat a bit. He
certainly looks the part. You know what you are going to get with
an Aussie and that's usually plenty of runs."
be producing some more "beautiful bowling" against Love's
fellow countrymen in the Ashes later this Summer? "I dunno,"
he answered cautiously. "I think I've still got some bowling
left to do for England. It's a bit of a cliché but I'm playing
hard for Middlesex, taking some wickets and I'm ready if the call
comes - we'll just have to wait and see. I'd love to play in the
Ashes again - it's still the best series to play in and I want to
If Tufnell doesn't
get his chance and is not selected for the Winter tours will we
be seeing more of him as an expert panellist on Sky TV running the
rule over England's performance, where he has surprised many with
his informative views on the game? "I like doing the TV stuff
and writing for the papers (he writes a column for the Evening Standard
and Sunday People)," he concluded. "I find it quite relaxing
really. There's a lot to be said for commentating when you weigh
it against being 'pinned' by some bloke bowling at 90 miles an hour
at you in a Test Match. I've still a lot of cricket left in me;
I'm by no means planning to hang my boots up but it's nice to do
ends up doing this winter, I for one will be tuning in.