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Saturday, October 9th Bangalore is Kumble land and the man himself was in the house, aloft in the stands, looking on like a benevolent cricket god. His every appearance on screen provoked roars from what looked suspiciously like a full house. The faithful were compelled to view their cricket through barriers, which at first I took for another example of the appalling way paying cricket fans are treated in this part of the world. Then I realised these were not nets designed to pen the audience in but an enormous mesh erected to protect the public from the giant marauding insects of the locale.
In an unfortunate piece of scheduling, the Association of Winged Invertebrates (Karnataka Branch) had arranged their annual convention for the first day of a crucial Test match. Insects are, in my experience, a stubborn bunch and so, despite the arrival of 15 men in white, they continued about their business regardless. The effect on the viewer was disconcerting, as an occasional wing brushed the camera and, periodically, enormous creatures loomed into view. I’m sure at one point I saw Mitchell Johnson catch one with his tongue and begin to chew. Always had my doubts about that one.
Sunday, October 10th You may think it drastic that the new IPL chiefs have expelled two franchises, but when you read the full details of what these franchises were up to, you’ll see they had no choice.
Rajasthan, it appears, had not cleared their headed notepaper with the Branded Stationery Authorisation Committee, and Kings XI Punjab fell foul of the little-known “Apostrophe Accuracy” clause in the franchise regulations, since it wasn’t clear whether the XI belonged to one King or several Kings, or indeed, whether it was a team comprised entirely of kings. They had been given three years to clear the matter up, so they only had themselves to blame, really.
Proper and full implementation of all regulations and a rigorously ethical approach to administration are, as we know, the hallmarks of the BCCI. Still, although we are all no doubt glad to be free of these two evil franchises, you have to feel a little sorry for the television producers. What on earth will they be able to focus on now that Preity Zinta and Shilpa Shetty will no longer be pitch-side? The cricket? Miss Zinta’s antics in particular were the most compelling part of the Punjab effort; she certainly showed more energy in the cause than any of the men in red, white and silvery bits.
Monday, October 11th Blessed are the peacemakers and few are more blessed than Mr Ijaz Butt. In his ongoing efforts to heal rifts and bring about reconciliations, he has sent a letter to Younis Khan. Claims that Younis has not received the communication are nonsense. I happen to know that Mr Butt personally scribbled something illegible on a post-it note, wrote, “To Younis Khan” on the other side and dropped it out of his office window. Having made all reasonable efforts to contact the batting fugitive, he cannot be held responsible for the failures of the Pakistan Postal Service.
It is not clear what significance we should attach to this letter. Until recently, the words “Younis" and “Khan” were outlawed at PCB HQ and the chap in question was at all times to be referred to as “That Man”. His offence, as I understand it, is that he hasn’t yet apologised for his as yet-undisclosed naughtiness that led to a ban, which was subsequently rescinded for no apparent reason.
If Lewis Carroll were around today he would no doubt be adding a new chapter to his most famous work, in which the heroine wanders into a PCB office by mistake and is reduced to a gibbering wreck by the goings-on therein.
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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