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Tuesday, 12th October We all enjoy watching top-class administrators strut their stuff. Whether it’s live auditing from Dubai or accounts reconciliation at Lord’s, millions of us around the world are avid followers of the bureaucratic superstars of the modern era. But many people worry. Are there enough kids willing to try their hand at pen-pushing? Where are the administrative heroes of tomorrow going to come from?
Well, worry no more, because the Global Cricket Academy, unveiled in Dubai today, will not just be for players or umpires. It will become, in the words of the ICC’s President, “the centre of excellence for cricket’s best and brightest administrators”. This is exciting news and here at the Long Handle we have been fortunate enough to have a glimpse of the curriculum that awaits the chosen form-filling few.
It is a challenging course. Students must first master the “Post-Prandial Committee Meeting Endurance Simulator”, in which they learn how to avoid nodding off in the boardroom when Haroon Lorgat is talking. They will also face a test in which they are given 20 minutes to fill a blank calendar with as many fixtures as they can, and to help them keep on top of corruption, the pen-pushing hopefuls will be taught how to pop down to a newsagent to buy the News of the World.
Wednesday 13th October After a not entirely successful trip to India and an unfortunate slide to a point some way south of England in the ICC Test rankings (which yesterday prompted the Australian government to declare a national state of emergency) Ricky Ponting has been defending his star No. 4 batsman against recent criticisms.
“Ah look, I don’t buy the argument that he’s not what he used to be. Sure, Pup’s nearly 30, but if you ask me, he’s as pretty as ever. You don’t become an ugly bloke overnight, unless you get your hair done like Doug. I’ve got every confidence that come the Ashes, he’ll be back taking his shirt off in a tasteful way for one of the better women’s magazines.”
Thursday 14th October At long last, someone is to be held to account for the monstrosity that is the mid-over advertisement. Admittedly it is poor old Lalit Modi, who appears to be in the frame for most of the world’s ills, including, as I understand it, the hole in the ozone layer, the existence of reality television and the assassination of JFK. And technically he is not being charged for foisting this abomination on the cricket viewer, rather for the way that the advertising was sold. Still, it’s a start.
Next we need to go after the people who introduced the rotating sight screen that doubles as an advertising hoarding and mysteriously seizes up at inopportune moments. Let’s bring to justice the man who first thought a blimp would be an exciting addition to the cricket experience. And Interpol must surely by now be on the trail of Shane Warne for aiding and abetting some of the worst adverts in the, admittedly fairly undistinguished, history of the scalp-refurnishing industry.
Friday 15th October The news that James Anderson has cracked a rib at England’s dangerous training camp for boys is unfortunate. Team England had previously earned some criticism for letting their chaps play football, so they decided to steer away from such risky activities for their end-of-season jaunt, opting instead to have their more important players punch each other in the stomach for an hour or two. The good news is that Jimmy should be fit in time to take on Graeme Swann in the morale boosting pre-Ashes sword-swallowing and scorpion-juggling competitions.
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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