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Friday, August 27th More IPL news, this time about the auction before last. I may not have entirely understood, but it seems that the big cheese at the Chennai Catastrophes attempted to rig the auction to ensure that he didn’t end up with Flintoff. The deal was that the yellows would make a pretend bid of $1.55m but would then graciously withdraw. But the plan went wrong and they were lumbered with the big man with the dodgy ankle. Understandably, Chennai were upset. I think that’s it.
I don’t really know, to be honest. I didn’t realise that auctions, let alone multi-million dollar auctions, were supposed to be the acme of transparency. This whole IPL business looks like one of those blazing rows in a soap opera that conceal an underlying heartache. Any minute now, someone will say, “It’s not about the auction, Lalit, you know it’s not about the auction!” I hope it’s some time soon, because this IPL stuff is like watching the business news. No, it’s duller.
Saturday, August 28th Pakistan have gone in the brain, says Nasser Hussain. Again. It isn’t an elegant phrase, but we know what he means. Still, as someone who enjoys reading about the golden age of cricket, it was lovely to see a re-enactment of Edwardian fielding including some gentlemanly ushering of the ball to the boundary, a marked reluctance to bend down and a dignified, patrician silence. Shabash, Kamran? No, okay then.
Sunday, August 29th I’m still in shock to be honest. Couldn’t even bring myself to turn on the television. Who cares about watching cricket? Unbelievable. The kind of thing that makes a man despair about civilisation, no, about humanity as a whole. What are we coming to when an 18-year-old can make a mistake like that, with their whole careers ahead of them? If I’d wanted anchovies on my pizza, I’d have ordered anchovies on my pizza. What is wrong with the youth of today? Give them a moped and a fancy crash helmet and they think they’ve made it.
Monday, August 30th A second man has been caught on tape, bragging about another spate of fixing dating back 20 years. He claimed to have fixed the results of 52 Test matches and 68 one-day internationals involving England between 1988 and 2000 and to have links with up to 189 English internationals. “You needed to know a lot of players in those days, because they kept changing them. No sooner had I groomed one fast bowler, than a new guy came in. I was always buying new address books.”
“I can’t believe we got away with it, to be honest. As time went on, we had to find more and more elaborate ways to lose, but the press never cottoned on. They kept saying it was cyclical, or blaming county cricket or calling for a new captain. The players were well up for it. Sometimes they collapsed without me even asking them to. Calm down, guys, I had to tell them, you can’t do it every game, someone will start asking questions. But they never did.”
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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. His latest book is available here and here @hughandrews73