| Divided loyalties: Mushtaq Ahmed (right) with Matt Prior
Mushys manners maketh the man
Imagine a future Australian tour of India with Harbhajan Singh sitting in the Aussie dressing room as a bowling coach to the visitors. That is precisely the situation with former Pakistani leg spinner Mushtaq Ahmed, who has been retained as a bowling coach by the England cricket team. When England lost the first Test against Pakistan by 10 wickets in Dubai last week, the rotund and bearded figure of Mushtaq could be spotted condoling with the England players. He appeared as crestfallen as they did.
England renewed Mushtaqs contract as a bowling coach even though a decade back, Mr Justice Qayum fingered him in a report on match-fixing.
There are sufficient grounds to cast strong doubt on Mushtaq Ahmed, the Pakistani judge said in his report. He has brought the name of the Pakistan team into disrepute with, inter alia, associating with gamblers. This commission recommends that Mushtaq Ahmed not be given any office of responsibility in the team or on the board.
But Mushy has a strong supporter in Andy Flower, the England coach: I am very comfortable with Mushtaq. Hes a lovely man.
Poor Mushy. He must have been delighted to see Pakistan thrash England, the side he had no doubt coached to the best of his ability. Yet, he probably had to resist the temptation to hug the Pakistani players before bending down to kiss the pitch.
Perhaps Mushy can do a Greg Chappell one day — rejoin Pakistan and betray the weaknesses of the England batsmen.
The BBCs cricket correspondent, Jonathan Agnew, noted that when your top six (England) batsmen score 143 runs between them in a match, the odds are you are going to lose.
Its a good job this didnt happen with the Pakistani batsmen, otherwise Agnew and his fellow commentators on the BBCs Test Match Special would probably have been voicing suspicions about the authenticity of their dismissals.
Day 1 in Dubai... and already the allegations are flying, read a Daily Mail headline, over three pictures of Saeed Ajmal who took a career-best seven for 55 in Englands first innings total of 192.
The graceless former England captain Bob Willis found an excuse: Ajmal is a chucker.
In the event, Agnew and his colleagues were remarkably generous to triumphant Pakistan. But the Test was played in a virtually empty stadium before the proverbial one man and his dog, Henry Blofeld noted.
What I can report is that desperate Indian cricket lovers in England are becoming Pakistan fans.
| Sound bite: Prime Minister David Cameron
The BBCs Top Gear programme filmed in India, which has upset the Indian High Commission in London (replete with cheap jibes, tasteless humour and lacked cultural sensitivity), begins innocently enough outside 10, Downing Street.
Suddenly, the famous black door to No. 10 opens. David Cameron emerges and says, Stay away from India, to Jeremy Clarkson, before being driven away.
The Prime Minister has distanced himself from the programme but, according to the satirical magazine Private Eye, Camerons appearance at the start was anything but accidental.
David Camerons friendship with his Oxfordshire neighbour Jeremy Clarkson, a columnist for the Dirty Diggers Sun and Sunday Times, was on display again over Christmas when the Prime Minister had a cameo part in the BBC presenters Top Gear special on India, begins Private Eye, using Dirty Digger as its usual endearment for Rupert Murdoch.
It goes on: While Clarkson stood outside Number 10 for a jokey piece to camera, Cameron found time to come outside and offer a carefully scripted sound bite as part of the set-up.
Clarkson last outraged the Mexican ambassador in London, Eduardo Medina-Mora Icaza, who lodged a formal complaint to the BBC.
Clarkson had offered his opinion that Mexico doesnt have an Olympic team... because anyone who can run, jump or swim is already across the border.
|Happy days: (From left) Tanya Baxter with Husain and Raza in London
Art to art
Of the three great artists figuring in exhibitions, David Hockney is 74; Sir Howard Hodgkin, who is also English, is 79; while S.H. Raza, who has returned permanently to India from France, turns 90 on February 22.
The big exhibition in London is David Hockneys A Bigger Picture at the Royal Academy.
Born in 1937 in Bradford — now the centre of Pakistani settlement in Britain — the exhibition highlights his landscapes, inspired mainly by his native Yorkshire.
It requires a dash up to the Ashmolean Museum in Oxford to catch Visions of Mughal India: The Collection of Howard Hodgkin.
The collection comprises over 140 paintings from the Mughal period (1550-1850). We are also told that Hodgkin has at times devoted almost as much effort to developing his collection as to his own work as a painter.
John Constable not being available, I do believe both Hockney and Hodgkin would be inspired into doing landscapes by the dappled effect of the early morning sun on the tree-lined pond in Belgachia.
Air India pilots willing, one should catch a flight to Delhi where the owner of a leading London gallery, Tanya Baxter Contemporary on the Kings Road, has put together an exhibition of Razas work for the private opening on January 27.
Tanya Baxter will be on hand to welcome Raza, her guest of honour, at the three-day exhibition at the Imperial Hotel.
Tanya was also friendly with M.F. Husain and is planning to do an exhibition of his paintings, says her spokesman.
I am tempted to encourage Tanya to hold the Husain retrospective in Calcutta, the only city in India where he is said to have felt truly at ease.
|Talk time: Ramachandra Guha
Too many must go to events clash on Republic Day. Apart from the Republic Day gala reception hosted by the Indian High Commission, there is the formal launch of the India Institute, headed by Sunil Khilnani, at Kings College, London.
Our students wish to understand India as it is now, observes Sunil, who has updated his 1997 book, The Idea of India.
Cinema writer Lalit Mohan Joshi is launching his book, Niranjan Pal: A Forgotten Legend & Such is Life – An Autobiography by Niranjan Pal, at the British Film Institute.
Meanwhile, having mugged Manmohan Singh in an article in The Telegraph, columnist-cum-historian Ramachandra Guha is looking to encourage further debate at the London School of Economics with a talk, Ten Reasons Why India Will Not and Should Not Become a Superpower.
For Britain, the expansion of the European Union has not been an unmixed blessing. Britain has supported the induction of eastern European and Baltic states into the EU partly to undermine Russia. But many criminal gangs have sauntered into the UK because EU membership allows freedom of movement.
An Indian grandfather, Avtar Kolar, 62, and his wife, Carole, 58, who were married for 40 years, were found battered to death at their home in Birmingham with a lump hammer.
A Lithuanian, Rimvydas Liorancas, 37, has been charged with their brutal murder.
There has been coverage in Britain of Oprah Winfreys week in India. But the bloggers have not been kind.
India can keep her, was a typical comment, while another said, Will we never be rid of this woman?