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Monday, 27th September The ICC Health and Safety Risk Assessment into the forthcoming series in India has been completed and has made the following recommendations:
1. To avoid any verbal misadventures, all communication on the field of play must be in ancient Greek.
2. In addition, the slip cordon must stand an extra 20 metres back, so as to remain out of the batsman’s earshot at all times.
3. Sledging will be permitted but only if the sledger has sought the permission of the sledgee and submitted the appropriate form (Sledge.1a.) to the match referee’s office prior to the day’s play.
4. A ten-metre exclusion zone will be established around Harbhajan Singh, who will at all times be required to wear black and yellow tape marked: “Danger: Approach with Caution!”
5. Enormous foam shoulder pads will be issued to all bowlers and batsmen, thereby taking the tension and some of the bruising out of those unfortunate mid-pitch collisions.
With these sensible precautions in place, the safety and well-being of all participants should be ensured. Play nicely chaps, and stay safe!
Tuesday, 28th September Michael Clarke has advised all players in their mid-to-late 20s with multiple advertising deals and a good chance of becoming Test captain in the next year or so to remain loyal to their country rather than favouring the IPL. I’m with you there, MC. I’ve made exactly the same choice; it’s country every time. Admittedly, the IPL has not yet expressed an interest in my services, but it’s the principle that counts.
Wednesday, 29th September Scotland’s ingenious method of progressing to the final of the ICC Intercontinental Thingy by refusing to tour Zimbabwe (on the grounds that it’s quite hot and they might lose) suggests possibilities for England ahead of the Ashes. All that is needed is for the UK government to produce a similarly bleak assessment of conditions in Australia. There’s plenty to work with: enormous spiders in the toilet, deadly snakes in your sock drawer and seas stuffed full of unnecessarily vigorous marine creatures.
Then there is the hostile local culture to consider, namely the well-documented breakdown of normal standards of civilised behaviour within the average Australian stadium. Sending Ian Bell into that environment could have serious implications for his well-being. A quick recommendation from the Foreign Office advising against all travel to Australia; the series will be forfeit and England retain the Ashes. Hurrah!
Thursday, 30th September Despite the fact that the “Reports on the Structure of County Cricket” annexe of the British Library already covers seven acres and has its own bus service, the ECB has decided that what we really need right now is a report on the structure of county cricket. Onlookers, perhaps unschooled in the ways of the ECB, might think this a prelude to a drastic reduction in the Friends Provident Twenty20 Endurance Contest that caused most of July’s cricket time to disappear into a black hole of pointlessness.
However, in my experience, the sane cricket enthusiast should approach these things in the same spirit with which one might tune in to a hastily arranged press conference by the Chairman of the PCB*. Expect the unexpected. It is entirely possible that the ECB will decide instead to increase the number of Twenty20 games and make room in the fixture list by settling the County Championship with a series of coin tosses on April 30. You heard it here first.
* On behalf of the Amateur Society of Satirists, I would like to express my heartfelt gratitude to Mr Butt for the support he has given to our industry over the last few months and I’d like to take this opportunity to wish him many more years of top-level administration.
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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