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Wednesday September 8th It appears that a man who was born in one country but now plays for another will be going back to the first country to play a couple of games. This apparently innocuous piece of news has been to certain sections of the cricket public as a fluttering red handkerchief is to a caged bull. Before you could say “massive overreaction”, hundreds of fingers across two hemispheres were tapping out the word “traitor”. There was no consensus amongst the internet bile purveyors as to which nation he was betraying, but they were united in their conviction that treachery was afoot.
The general public have a strange relationship with Mr Kevin Pietersen. Apparently rational people talk freely of his personality flaws despite the fact that they have not so much as shared a “good morning” with him, let alone had a peek at his MI5 file. They float the idea of dropping him from the Test team, presumably so that someone less talented can replace him. Anyway, isn’t having two games on Australian-style pitches whilst getting used the Kookaburra ball rather a good idea? Adequate preparation for an Ashes series? Clearly the man has learnt nothing about Englishness.
Thursday September 9th Whether you are Archduke Franz Ferdinand out for a pleasant afternoon drive through the streets of Sarajevo or an international cricketer having a chat in a hotel bar with a man whose trilby keeps making odd whirring noises, no one likes to be caught unawares. Yet all morning I had an odd sense of foreboding. Like a Martian standing at the crease watching Michael Holding mark his run-up, I had the vague impression that something was going to happen for which I should be prepared; I just didn’t know what it was.
And then it hit me. A passing newspaper delivery boy had propelled in my direction my copy of Pointless Twenty20 Tournaments Monthly. Regaining my feet, I picked up the glossy publication to see on the cover a photograph of Kieron Pollard and Ross Taylor counting enormous piles of cash. Of course! It was Champions League time!
Having hurriedly flicked through the magazine to find out which team Dwayne Bravo was playing for this week, I began the tricky business of choosing a side to follow. I was tempted by the Wayamba Elevens (although it turns out, disappointingly, that they are only allowed to field one XI), but in the end I went for the men from the Caribbean, who in a world of Warriors and Bushrangers have chosen to retain their dignity and remain simply Guyana when they could so easily have become Gum Chewers, Goatherds or Googlies.
Friday September 10th I know some people feel that sledging is the very essence of manliness but personally I find there are few spectacles more pathetic on a cricket field than grown men calling each other names. Today it was little Johnnie Trott causing trouble. He said that Kamran’s little brother wore green lipstick and then Kamran said that Johnnie’s baseball cap came from a charity shop and that anyway he threw like a girl. Fortunately Headmaster Doctrove was on hand to threaten them both with the withdrawal of their sweetie allowance and another ugly playground incident was averted.
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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