Ashes November 6, 2010

Michael Clarke is Churchill, Michael Clarke is Dumbo

The hype equation helpfully explained, with an easy-to-understand formula

Wednesday, 3rd November The head of some company or other responsible for producing a kind of digital whatchamacallit today tried to reassure reluctant Indian cricketers that there is nothing to be scared of, that everything is perfectly safe.

“We need to spend time with umpires and players, captains of teams, so that we can open up the entire Pandora’s box of the technology…”

I’m not sure this is a great sales pitch. Pandora’s box, as we know, was a container reputed to contain all the plagues, evils and diseases of the world, which, once released, could never be returned. No wonder Sachin wants nothing to do with it.

Thursday, 4th November According to our chums with the laptops and laminated passes, Marcus North is either clinging on to his Test spot by his fingernails or about to be made captain, or possibly both. Furthermore the Australian dressing room is riven with infighting and yet, at the same time, the epitome of loving harmony; whilst Michael Clarke, depending on which paper you read, is a commanding leader of great sagacity and authority or an incompetent fool who can barely be trusted to arrange his knife and fork, let alone a 5-4 field.

It’s all rather baffling for the humble cricket fan, but fortunately help is at hand. The Department of Frivolous Algebra at the University of Fake Science have today explained this strange phenomenon with a useful formula:

Hype = X (Y*Z)

in which X is an event of no significance*, Y is a variable representing the number of journalists who have blagged a holiday to Australia, and Z represents the amount of time said journalists have on their hands once they get there.

In this case it appears that the operation of the Hype Equation is resulting in the inflation of a mid-ranking struggle between an ordinary yet inconsistent team and their inconsistent yet ordinary opponents into the greatest sporting clash since Ali versus Foreman. Meanwhile numbers 1 and 2 in the Test rankings are limbering up for a three-match series in December. Hype anyone? Apparently not.

Friday, 5th November It seems that South Africans are not yet fully conversant with one of the great literary genres. A cricket autobiography is supposed to be a tiresome collection of dressing-room pranks interspersed with golfing stories, lists of scores and excuses. It is designed to be a birthday present, a draught excluder, a coffee table filler, or if it is large enough, a useful hurling implement with which to stun a charging rhinoceros. It is not, however, intended to be in any way interesting or readable.

Yet last week Herschelle Gibbs released his unputdownable tale of sex, cliques and rock and roll. And now we have a taster of former coach Mickey “Micky” Arthur’s contribution to sporting literature, a manuscript so dangerous that it has already provoked the threat of legal action from the PCB. The passage of the book that has stimulated Ijaz Butt’s sue-reflex relates to a one-day game back in 2007, a game Pakistan lost. As we all now know, match-fixing, spot-fixing or associated general naughtiness is the only possible explanation for a Pakistan defeat:

“How else do you explain a batting side needing only 40 runs with seven wickets in hand and still losing?”

How else indeed, Mickey. Of course it could just have been that Pakistan didn’t play very well. But, hey, who wants to pay R154 to read about that?

* Such as, for example, the news that some guy in a hotel bar reckons he heard some bloke say that he had it on good authority from his uncle’s first wife that a geezer who’d been to school with Ricky Ponting’s cousin met a woman who might have been Greg Chappell’s cleaner, who swore blind that she heard Marcus North or someone who looks very much like him say that he’d like to be Australian captain.

Andrew Hughes is a writer currently based in England