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Wednesday, 27th October I’m enjoying the action from the UAE. Pakistan may be depleted but today they were the clear winners in two important areas. Their fans had the best costumes (top marks to the man in green and white feathers) and their batsmen had the silliest dismissals. Akmal minor managed to detect some ambiguity in Misbah’s fairly unequivocal shout of “Nooooooo!”, Afridi once again attempted to be the first man to launch a cricket ball into space, and Imran Farhat, attacked by a mosquito, sent the wee beastie hurtling over the pavilion, missing the ball in the process but teaching that particular insect a lesson he won’t soon forget.
Inevitably, though, there’s always someone who has to spoil things for everyone else. The otherwise estimable Ramiz Raja breached UN Resolution 2101 (Deployment of Prohibited Clichés) by bringing buckets into proceedings where no buckets were required. After one edge had not quite carried to Graeme Smith, Ramiz informed us that he was “…surprised to see the ball miss his bucket-like hands”.
This particular simile is not only as irritating as an armchair stuffed with thistles, it is also vaguely insulting, implying that a player has an unfair advantage on account of the enormous pail-shaped receptacles on the ends of his arms.
Thursday, 28th October Fugitive from justice Lalit Modi today issued a global broadcast. Sitting in a leather armchair whilst stroking a reluctant cat, Modi invited the BCCI to come and get him if they thought they could find him. It is believed that he may be hiding in a top secret headquarters built into the base of a dormant volcano, or possibly even an underwater complex constructed in the shape of Ravi Shastri’s head. Intelligence agencies had warned that the evil genius may be plotting to throw the world into chaos by launching a series of deadly domestic Twenty20 competitions. However, when this was put to Modi, he said, “Nah, already done that.”
Friday, 29th October As the old proverb says, “Four’s company, five’s an insufficiently cost-effective utilisation of human resources.” Yes, it appears that our antipodean friends need to lose one of their national pin-stickers, and in keeping with their ongoing mission to sex up the sport, Cricket Australia eschewed the traditional committee meeting and opted for a talent contest. Each of the three candidates for the chop was forced to perform before an invited audience and the public got to vote for their favourite. CA had originally threatened to ask the contestants to recite some of their own poetry, but after an intervention from Amnesty International, settled instead on a disco theme.
First up was Merv Hughes, whose expletive-laden version of a Gloria Gaynor classic, “I Will F****** Survive, You F******” was performed with characteristic gusto, although the judges felt that the high heels didn’t particularly add to the ensemble. David Boon hadn’t fully grasped the rules, choosing to belch the first four verses of the national anthem before being helped from the stage, and Jamie Cox opted for something by Norwegian thrash metal combo Toxic Death, admitting afterwards that he had probably chosen the wrong tune for the occasion.
In the end, though, it was big Merv who got the boot, which means that Cox and Boon will now go on to appear in the Christmas special edition of The Selector Factor, where they will be up against Geoff Miller, Mohsin Khan and the man who chose not to pick David Gower for the 1993 tour of India.
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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