England August 18, 2010

Exclusive: Australia's seven-point winning plan leaked

And you thought Long Handle was just a fan's diary

Saturday, August 14th Today was Friends Provident Finally Finished Day; a thrilling eleven hours of cricket, featuring hovercrafts, cheerleaders and live white-line marking, played out in front of a typically English audience of transvestites, umbrellas and packed lunches.

Naturally, Dwayne Bravo was there; he can sniff a Twenty20 tournament from several thousand miles away and his compatriot, Kieron International was also in attendance, being a Somerset player again.

Neither enjoyed the best of days. Dwayne, unfortunately, had signed up for the wrong team and presumably will be speaking to his agent, whilst KP copped a horrible blow to the face that had the whole ground wincing.

And though the climax of this 151-game tournament was suitably exciting; rather like a Shoaib Akhtar delivery, it is not entirely clear that the final outcome necessitated quite such a long and exhausting build-up.

Sunday, August 15th Not so long ago the Aussie cricketer ruled the world with a simple philosophy. He had his plans and he executed them. But times have changed and Cricket Australia is determined not to get left behind. Modern cricket is not just about believing in your plans, executing your plans or sticking to your plans: these days, success is determined by how well you plan the planning of your plans.

So today 200 of Australia’s senior cricket bureaucrats met at a top-secret Conference Centre in Melbourne to come up with a blueprint for benchmarking and attaining realisable goals going forwards. And thanks to a well-positioned insider (just behind a water cooler outside the Bryce McGain Seminar Facility) the Long Handle can reveal the seven-point plan in its entirety:

1. Win back the Ashes
2. Don’t fail to win back the Ashes
3. Remember not to forget to go to India in October
4. World Cup, blah blah blah
5. A rolling vote of confidence for Ricky Ponting to be renewed weekly
6. To support the vital work of Team Australia’s backroom staff, their numbers will be increased to 187 and they will be redesignated as the Strategic Unit for Performance Evaluation, Reinforcing Facilitation of Long-term Upskilling Objectives and Underpinning Success
7. Continuing to hold the Tait and Nannes families hostage until Dirk and Shaun accede to Cricket Australia’s entirely reasonable demands regarding their availability for the first Test in Brisbane.

Monday, August 16th Following the unfortunate nocturnal difficulties of renowned cat lover Graeme Swann, it has emerged that Jesse Ryder has signed up with the RNZSPCA. A spokesman for Jesse claimed that the big left-hander had always been an animal lover and was prepared to go to any lengths to rescue his furry pals, regardless of his own or anyone’s else’s safety and no matter how tired and emotional he may be at the time.

Tuesday, August 17th As India prepare for their 700th game of the year, the BCCI has denied that any of the team’s fast bowlers have written to them complaining about the schedule. A BCCI spokesman said that bowlers are free to ask for time off, providing they are prepared to accept the consequences. Pressed on what those consequences might be, the spokesman arched one eyebrow, adopted a sinister voice and explained that once you have entered Team BCCI, you don’t leave. He then cackled maniacally for several minutes.

Andrew Hughes is a writer currently based in England