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Wednesday, 6th October For the second year in a row, the ICC attempted to steal the thunder of the Long Handle Awards by holding their own, smaller-scale ceremony on the same day. Happily, they did not succeed in deflecting attention away from the main event and this year’s winners were celebrated by a packed audience (Mrs Hughes and Hughes junior) in a plush auditorium (the Hughes living room) and hosted by a distinguished former player (yours truly wearing a Ronnie Irani mask).
There was a surprise winner of the Most Appearances In The Long Handle Blog By A Former Indian Spin-Bowling AllRounder Award as Mr Ravishankar Shastri scooped the prize. A clearly emotional Shastri made a moving acceptance speech: “Who? What? Look, stop calling me or you’ll be hearing from my lawyers! No, I’m not shouting! You want to hear me shout? I’ll shout, I’ll shout so loud I’ll make your eardrums pop!”
Twit Of The Year is a relatively new category for which there was fierce competition from the English contingent. Messrs Pietersen, Mascarenhas and Rafiq all put in sterling efforts, but in the end, the panel of judges went for Mr Simon Trundler of Anothershire, whose Tweet to his county captain (“Give me the new ball or I’ll burn down your house”) was judged to have communicated a clear message with brevity and a welcome dose of dark humour. Mr Trundler’s prize has been forwarded to the open prison where he is currently awaiting trial.
Finally, there was another new award up for grabs this year: Captain With The Most Sinister Grin. Here at the Long Handle, we shy away from seeking undue levity in the physical characteristics of our fellow humans, for obvious reasons. That said, we cannot let the cricket awards year end without giving due credit to the considerable menace inherent in the smile of Mr Andrew Strauss. One judge said, “It gave me the shivers,” and another commented: “It put me in mind of a great white shark trying to sell double glazing to a family of tuna.”
Thursday, 7th October Hussey major has expressed his disappointment that Cricket Australia didn’t refuse to allow him to play in the Champions League Twenty20. This is an interesting new development. Cricketers have always whinged about burnout. But here we have a subtle variation in which a player criticises his own board for not forcing him to stop playing for a team that he had previously agreed to play for. Kudos to Mr Cricket for his ingenuity and for taking his whingeing to the next level.
Friday, 8th October Congratulations to Mr Misbah-ul-Haq who became Pakistan’s fourth Test captain this year (and advance congratulations to Mr Younis Khan and Mr Javed Miandad for their appointments in January and April 2011 respectively). Four captains is quite an achievement and equals the record set by England in that crazy summer of 1988 when the nation’s selectors dispensed with skippers as freely as Henry VIII rearranged his marital affairs.
To mark his appointment as Pakistan captain, Mr ul-Haq performed the traditional ritual of drinking an unspecified noxious liquid from an ornate chalice. He was then presented with a framed photograph of Imran Khan lifting the World Cup, a letter of support from the PCB (written, due to stationery cutbacks, in invisible ink) and a Dummies Guide to Cricket Tactics. Finally, he had the benefit of a handshake with Mr Ijaz Butt and (for a reasonable discount) got to take away a copy of the big man’s autobiography: The Butt Doesn’t Stop Here. Good luck Misbah!
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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