No more fixing, says the ICC
Tuesday, 9th November Historic news: the ICC have eradicated corruption! Things were looking dicey for a while there, but the chaps in Dubai have pretty much cleared the whole thing up thanks to a non-binding voluntary declaration. The breakthrough was confirmed by a smiling Haroon Lorgat as he descended the steps of his plane waving a sheet of A4. “I have in my hand a piece of paper,” he announced, promising “No fixing in our time!”
The news sparked scenes of global jubilation and long queues of match-fixers anxious to hand themselves in began to form at police stations around the world. One illegal bookie, who did not wish to be named, admitted that it would be all but impossible for him to operate in future, now that the ICC had brought out their declaration, so he was chucking it all in and starting a llama farm in the Andes.
Wednesday, 10th November Another day, another Ashes news item. Well, I say “news” but I’m using that word in its loosest possible sense. Like lumbering, exhausted boxers in the 12th round, the two sides in the pre-Ashes trash-talk title bout are punching on empty, flailing about with weary aspersions and jaded insinuations in the vague hope of hitting the target.
Today it was Ricky “The Australian Captain” Ponting who lashed out with a media upper-cut. He alleged that England will not be able to adapt to the green and bouncy Gabba wicket. Pow! His comment is even more devastating to the English psyche when you look at their squad and realise that apart from Broad, Finn and Tremlett, it is utterly devoid of tall seam bowlers who might exploit such conditions.
Thursday, 11th November Brave whilstleblower/cynical attention-seeker/wicketkeeper Zulqarnain Haider has suggested tapping the telephones of cricketers. I’m not so sure. The idea has already been trialled, with mixed results, as this extract from one of the transcripts reveals:
Player X: Greetings, telephone person, my name is Bhaji and I wish to – Helpline: For complaints, press 1. For technical support press 2 – Player X: Bloody automated nonsense! There, I pressed 2. Now what? Helpline: Thank you. If you have a problem with your wrist position, say “wrist”. If you are having trouble with your doosra, say “doosra”. If – Player X: Doosra! Helpline: Thank you. You said, “moose”. If this is correct, say “yes” after the tone. Player X: Moose? I haven’t got a moose! Helpline: If your moose is unwell, press 1. If your moose is depressed, press 2. If you have lost your moose, press 3. Player X: Useless piece of junk! I am going to come down there and give you all a damn good thrashing or my name isn’t – Operator: Hello, I am Ravi, how can I help you? Player X: At last. I’ve mislaid my doosra. Operator: That is bad news, sir. If you give me all the details, we will have your doosra back faster than a tracer bullet. Player X: What are you talking about, tracer bullet? And why are you shouting? Operator: I am not shouting, sir. I am projecting my voice for the sake of my customer. Don’t worry, I’m sure we can knock your problem into row Z. Player X: It’s very simple, peasant phone-operating person. I had my doosra. I lost it. Now I want to know what you are going to do about it. Operator: Have you tried being taller? Player X: What? Operator: A lot of our spin bowling clients find that being over six feet tall is a real advantage. Player X: Are you an imbecile? Operator: No, I am fully on board with your issue sir. Now let’s get ready to rock! Putting you on hold. Player X: Wait –
We hear a jazz version of “Eye of the Tiger” by Survivor
Player X: Right, that’s it! I am going to slap you to within an inch of your existence, you worthless piece of telecommunication equipment! Take that! And that! And that also! Ah, not so smug now, are you! Wait till I pull your socket out of the wall! Then we’ll see who -
Andrew Hughes is a writer currently based in England