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Monday July, 19
Life as a cricket addict is not easy. The hours are long, the sacrifices are many and you are regularly presented with tough choices. Take this evening, for example. On the one hand, I had been invited to attend the annual dinner of the Nihilist Cricket Society (guest speaker: Bob Willis). On the other hand, Worcestershire were scheduled to embarrass themselves on live television in eighty overs or fewer. Which pleasure would I have to forgo?
I need not have worried. Vikram Solanki’s chaps in very dark green set about their task with familiar gusto. Chasing an unlikely 313, they saw themselves off in double quick time, enabling me to slip away and spend a pleasant evening discussing the futility of existence and the Clydesdale Bank 40; areas of debate with a surprising degree of overlap.
Tuesday, July 20 I awoke this morning to find that the ICC had left something unpleasant in my inbox. Earlier in the year, they came up with a mascot for the 2011 World Cup. Hands up anyone who thought it would be anything other than an elephant? But now they have a problem. The predictable public relations pachyderm lacks a name and the game’s governing body want us to help.
But what’s he like, this two-dimensional trunk-swisher? What’s his motivation? Well, according to the ICC, he loves cricket, he tries very hard, he wants to emulate his heroes and he occasionally soils the outfield. (I may have misremembered the last bit). To be honest, I didn’t warm to the fellow. Still, I am keen to do my bit, so I have emailed my suggestion. I think Giles is an excellent name for an elephant.
Wednesday, July 21 Some days I think it would be great to be Ricky Ponting. Today was not one of those days. Thanks to his mixing up the word "bat" with the word "bowl", Ricky’s troops spent the first two sessions swishing at balls that weren’t there as their leader stared forlornly from a pavilion window, looking for all the world like a young George Bush sulking because his mother won’t let him play outside.
And like the former US president, Ricky has an idiosyncratic approach to diplomacy. The prospect of defeat was leading to a little tetchiness amongst those in baggy greens so, bearing in mind that this is the Spirit of Cricket Series, after umpire Gould had a word with Hilfenhaus for mouthing off at one of the Pakistan batsmen, the Australian captain stepped in to calm the situation down by, er, having his own exchange with the same batsman. At least he didn’t use his elbows.
Thursday, July 22 A momentous day in the history of cricket as Murali closed in on 800 wickets. Naturally, I was willing him on but I had an additional reason for taking a keen interest in Sri Lankan events, having staked a modest sum on a home victory. I spent most of the morning staring at the Cricinfo live scoreboard, repeatedly jabbing the refresh button and muttering the occasional uncomplimentary remark about Ishant Sharma.
I bow to no man in my admiration for India’s tallest, skinniest fast-bowling heavy metal fan, but there is a time and a place for stubborn tail-end resistance, and when the world’s greatest spinner is on the verge of a milestone and I am on the cusp of my first winning wager of the millennium, it is no time to discover your inner Boycott. Finally, gloriously, the text read: ‘Muralitharan to Ojha, OUT!’ and lo there was much rejoicing in Galle and a damp, obscure corner of England.
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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