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Reviews, reviews, reviews. You can’t escape the inevitable end-of-year review. And this being the conclusion of a decade, there is 10 times as much reviewing to be done. Personally, I’d prefer my round-up of things-we-already-know-about to be sprinkled with a little mischief. Why not slip a few falsehoods into the end-of-year-raking-over-of-long-cold-news events and see if anyone notices? Much more fun.
For instance, you could set a princess-and-a-pea test for the statistically retentive by changing Brad Hodge’s final Test average from 55.88 to 55.89 and waiting to see if anyone notices. That should separate the true geeks from the wannabees. You could claim that it was widely understood that a bug in the ICC ranking system was to blame for South Africa’s temporary accession to the No. 1 spot, or that Australia in fact retained the Ashes after the Oval Test match was abandoned due to termite infestation.
Or maybe not. At any rate, there will no tired old reviews here. We do things differently at the Long Handle. No, instead I will be offering something groundbreaking and entirely unexpected. Not a REview, but a PREview. Genius, isn’t it? Instead of looking back with a wearisome sigh, I shall be gazing into the mists of the unknown with a keen eye and a stout heart.
Now a preview can be a slippery cove. He can leave you looking a little Shane Watson if you aren’t careful. It may be that not everything I set down here will come to pass during the next 12 months. Fortunately, if the fates allow you and I to be sat reading this blog again at the same time next year, I confidently predict that you will have forgotten all about the ensuing meanderings. I know I will have.
Four things that will definitely happen in 2010:
The Fruit Bat After last year’s groundbreaking foray utilising the humble mongoose, scientists will reveal the latest mammalian addition to the cricket armoury. After several trials, during which leopards, moles, armadillos and lemurs were given a spin, it was the fruit bat that was found to be most effective. The flappy-eared creature will hang upside down from the batsman’s wrist and, utilising its radar system, catch the cricket ball, which it has mistaken for a fast-moving apple, in its mouth. It will then fly back to its cave with the ball, thus securing a six. Extra balls may be required.
Referral System III The conclusion of the smash-hit trilogy will bring back the fun of the fairground in the form of a steam-powered engine wheeled onto the outfield. Dave Richardson’s Big Green Engine of Decisions will chug away, playing a selection of popular tunes before piping up with one toot for out, two for not out and three toots if a valve needs changing. The sight of Dave jauntily waving his boilerman’s cap at the crowd as the beast trundles off will be one of the images of the year.
Blondes Behaving Badly The must-see film of the year, starring Cameron Diaz as Shane Watson and Paris Hilton as Stuart Broad, in which our high-maintenance heroines tour the world in a hilarious blur of tantrums, hair clips and expensive handbags. On a journey of discovery they’ll find themselves but lose their match fees. You’ll laugh, you’ll cry, but mostly you’ll laugh. Look out for Bruce Willis in a cameo as tough-guy referee Chris Broad and Morgan Freeman as retired cop Steve "Slow Death" Bucknor, who is persuaded out of retirement to whip the girls into shape.
Bangla Boycott The world of cricket will be set rocking like a rocking horse in February 2010 when several members of the Bangladesh Test team announce that they will be taking a hard-earned rest during the series against England.
“We have a lot of tough cricket coming up,” Mashrafe Mortaza will say, “and we need to prioritise the more attractive fixtures. It is a shame that we won’t be available for the England tour, but we hope our fans will understand that we don’t give a James Anderson. If they are foolish enough to buy tickets to watch that bunch of overrated whingers and twitterers, then good luck to them, but frankly, I’d rather watch paint dry. Which is exactly what I will be doing as I put the finishing touches to my house extension.”
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Andrew Hughes is a writer and avid cricket watcher who has always retained a healthy suspicion of professional sportsmen, and like any right-thinking person rates Neville Cardus more highly than Don Bradman. Providing his ransom demands continue to be met, he has promised never to write a whimsical book about village cricket. @hughandrews73