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Tuesday, 16th November IPL fans will be pleased to hear that preparations for the next installment of the world’s favourite Indian cricket league have been unaffected, despite all of the litigious shenanigans of recent weeks. There have though been one or two changes to the format. IPL 4 will consist of an initial round-robin stage of legal actions, counter suits and disciplinary hearings, at the end of which the last franchise to be disbanded will claim the title. In the event of two franchises being banned at the same time, the one with the fewest of Lalit Modi’s relatives on its board will be declared the winner.
Wednesday, 17th November Giles Clarke’s ongoing campaign to ensure that no one can see the England team play cricket today suffered a setback. It emerged that ITV will be showing highlights of the Ashes for free. Yes, you heard it right, for free. It’s a scandal. Fortunately, the highlights will be on the middle of the night and viewers will have to apply to the ECB for a special exemption certificate if they want to partake in this act of wanton selfishness. And of course, it’s on ITV, which is itself something of a deterrent.
The big question is who will be in the studio? Normally, the advantage of employing ex-internationals is that they can offer us valuable insights. But this is the Ashes. The only thing that the likes of Alec Stewart and Graeme Hick can tell us about playing against Australia is how to lose in the shortest possible time. They probably won’t even show up until the last Test, when, with the pressure off and expectations suitably low, the men from the nineties will turn in a stirring, but ultimately futile display of punditry.
Thursday, 18th November The Ashes offers many opportunities for spin-off publications and I see no reason not to cash in. I am currently working on my own book, entitled “Deconstructing the Soundbite: Semantics in the Post Modern Sporting and Media Milieu. For Dummies”. There is no shortage of material. Take this from Troy Cooley:
“Mitch brings a nice set of skills to our team and we accept that with his action, he’s not going to get 100 balls in the right area at the right time.”
What does this tell us? Firstly it reveals the enormous admiration Cooley has for the tattooed slinger. He looks upon Mitch as a figure of prodigious strength and power, reminiscent of the mythical giant Briareus, capable of bowling 100 balls simultaneously. But at the same time he is preparing us for the possibility that not every one of Mitch’s 100 arms will be functioning with optimum accuracy and that low flying aircraft in the Brisbane area should take particular care next week.
Friday, 19th November Harbhajan isn’t happy, a situation that is not good for India, for Indian cricket or for the furniture in Bhajji’s apartment. According to India’s premier allrounder, most of the pitches in that part of the world are like roads. Coincidentally, many Indian roads are like five-day old pitches. Perhaps some sort of exchange programme between groundsmen and road maintenance engineers might be the answer?
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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