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Saturday, 6th November Twenty-four hours have passed since we last heard from the lad from Pietermaritzburg, so to put that right, here’s KP. What’s happening Kevin?
“I’m on fire right now.”
Don’t panic. He isn’t really smouldering at the edges. He means, “I’m playing really well.” He’s talking in the dialect known as “sportsman”, you see. Still perhaps he’s missing an endorsement opportunity: KP’s Asbestos Trousers. “They keep me safe even when I’m on fire.” Or maybe not.
But even if you’re not married to him, you’ve got to love KP. Firstly, he offers us quotes like this:
“I play like a clown.”
To English ears, that kind of soothing self-deprecation is like a hot mug of cocoa in front of a roaring fire. It makes us feel warm and cosy. Because I too play like a clown and so do all the people I have ever taken to a cricket field with. A proper South African could never say something like that, at least not in public.
And, secondly, he can conjure up profound statements like this:
“I have been working really hard over the last six weeks to get to a place where I am at the moment.”
By which he means Perth, presumably.
Sunday, 7th November If the PCB were an animal, it would be a lion. It spends most of its time asleep, then wakes to indulge itself in an afternoon of over-the-top savagery before sinking back into a contented slumber. Having done next to nothing for months, this most bi-polar of cricket boards has now begun to lash out in a familiar flurry of edicts, bans, punishments and extra-large stationery requests.
As we all know, the path to a corruption-free sport is paved with good regulations. So, taking his inspiration from the Code of Hammurabi, Mr Butt has listed 271 rules to which the Pakistan touring squad must adhere, on pain of an immediate double-life ban (a new level of punishment introduced just in case one of the life bans is overturned). Here is a taster of the new regime for the men in green:
“…Rule 17: And no player shall permit even a single hair on his head to exceed the length stipulated in the anti-corruption regulations, since it is a well known fact that the longer your hair, the naughtier you are likely to be. The team barber (Mr Afzal of Krazy Kuts, Lahore) will be on hand throughout the tour with his scissors and his PCB comb and has been given licence to snip at will.
Rule 18: We do not want to stop players having fun or talking to people. But unfortunately, we have no choice. You have all shown yourselves to be hopeless judges of character so from now on, all potential friends, hangers-on, casual acquaintances, girlfriends and squash partners must obtain an Informal Relationship Clearance Certificate from the Ministry of Elderly Aunts.
Rule 19: Never forget, my players, that when you pull on those dark green blazers, you are representing something bigger than yourselves. You are representing me. I am your master, that is why my portrait has been embroidered onto the breast pocket of your blazers and that is why you will wear them at all times, even in the shower…”
Monday, 8th November Few teams have you flicking through the cricketers’ Who’s Who more often than New Zealand, but after five days of intensive study, I am now fully up to date in the matter of Watling, Williamson and Bennett. Of course, the real New Zealand stars are beyond the boundary. Whereas Twenty20 Danny Morrison is an egregious squawking parrot, Test match Morrison is a wise bird who makes fewer but more interesting noises. And then there is Jeremy Coney.
Quite simply, the man is box office. Quirky, unpredictable and prone to outbursts of genius, he comes across like a particularly brilliant detective. He deserves his own series. Watch Inspector Coney as he solves such fiendish riddles as “The Affair of McCullum’s Missing Runs”, “The Strange Disappearance then Reappearance then Disappearance of Tim Southee” and his toughest case yet, “The Curious Incident of the Empty Whisky Bottle in the Nightclub.”
“Elementary, my dear Jesse. Just blow into this breathalyzer please…”
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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. His latest book is available here and here @hughandrews73