According to PJ O’Rourke, it’s best to affect a limp handshake. “A firm, hearty handshake gives a good first impression,” he wrote, “and you’ll never be forgiven if you don’t live up to it.” There were a lot of hearty handshakes at the start of this latest one-day series between England and Australia, a gamut of clasps, claps, pats, pumps and bumps. Before the start of play the Australians shook hands with the umpires and then the Australians shook hands with each other, then the umpires shook hands with the English, then the English shook hands with the Australians. It was, O’Rourke might say, a lot to live up to.
The handshakes were Australia’s idea. “It’s something we want to bring in to start a series, not before every game,” Tim Paine explained, shrewd not to overdo it. This Australia one-day team seem unusually injury prone – they have already lost their four best fast bowlers to various strains and sprains – and it seems wise to minimise the potential for repetitive strain injuries. The last thing they need now is a case of politician’s wrist. Alex Salmond shook so many hands during Scotland’s independence referendum that he had to spend weeks wearing a foam support.
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