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Saturday, 16th October PCB head honcho Ijaz “Asbestos” Butt today held an emergency press conference to respond to the ultimatum issued by the ICC. The Long Handle was in the front row holding a recording device.
“First of all, men of the press, you are wrong to call it an ultimatum. There was more than one ultimatum, so you will see, according to the Latin we should be talking about ultimata, not ultimatum,” he announced triumphantly. “This, in my opinion, is typical of the way the media misrepresent the facts.
“Secondly, as you can see, the paper upon which the ICC has printed these ultimata is from a non-sustainable source. Again, this is typical of the way these shadowy bodies go about their business. How many mahogany trees were felled to produce this paper? Do you know? Do I know? Rest assured, I have launched an investigation and will be handing the file over to Greenpeace or Friends of the Earth, I haven’t decided which.
“Finally, if anyone here doubts that I am doing a good job, they should read what it says on this handwritten note I received from my good friend, Mr President Zardari. ‘Dear Butty. Congratulations on being the most unpopular man in Pakistan. I would be personally delighted if you could continue to fill this position for many months to come or until the next election, whichever comes first. Yours with gratitude, Big Al.’”
Sunday, 17th October Fast-medium ball-flinger Stuart Broad today interrupted his weekly session with the ECB’s anger management therapist to explain his approach to fast bowling:
“I’m a passionate kind of person. Passion is my middle name. And aggression. Aggression and passion are my middle names. I want to be passionate enough to make the batsman scared, but not so aggressive that I split my trousers; yet at the same time aggressive enough to put myself on the line, but not so passionate that I step over the line; which would be a no ball.”
Monday, 18th October Excellent news for long-suffering Pakistan cricket fans, but not for those of us who appreciate slapstick comedy. It appears that Misbah’s chaps will be “concentrating on fielding” ahead of their jaunt to the UAE. However, their intensive schedule will not involve cricket balls, running around outdoors or risking nasty little bruises on the knuckles, as coach Waqar explained:
“Practising is so last year. When I say my boys will be concentrating on fielding, I mean they will be doing literally that - sitting cross-legged on comfy cushions with their eyes closed, imagining what it feels like to be Jonty Rhodes.”
“Good fielding comes from within,” said chairman of selectors Mohsin Khan. “Plus, it’s a lot cheaper to imagine being Jonty Rhodes than to actually hire him.”
Tuesday, 19th October As we all know, the ICC never sleeps in its efforts to root out corruption and they have come up with yet another jolly clever wheeze to catch out naughty cricketers. A dozen of their finest clerks will be seconded from filing duty, equipped with false moustaches and parachuted into hotel bars in key locations on the cricket circuit, where they will sidle up to unwary professionals and offer them cash to fix matches.
Obviously there are certain legal considerations in a sting operation of this sort. For a start, the ICC can’t be seen to be offering cash to players, so the pretend bookmakers will be issued with wads of $500 currency notes from Haroon Lorgat’s personal Monopoly set. And to avoid allegations of entrapment, when striking up a conversation with a player, the undercover ICC agent will be obliged to wear a badge that says “Undercover ICC Agent”.
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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