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Saturday, 20th November At this time in the Ashes cycle, it can be all too easy to forget about those less fortunate than ourselves. But I ask you, dear reader, to put off the thrill of watching Steven Finn bowl to Marcus North for a little while longer and take a minute or two to help a worthy cause. I’m referring of course to the “Save Our Spinners” Appeal. The campaign was launched today with the help of a moving video featuring a montage of slow bowlers from Hogg to Hauritz standing hands on hips, gazing forlornly towards the midwicket boundary. You can’t fail to be moved by their plight.
Since 2007, this native Australian species has been in drastic decline. Attempts to rear new spinners have not gone well. Too often they are released into the harsh international environment to fend for themselves before they are ready, with tragic consequences. So it is vital that we act now. Please sign our petition urging the Australian selectors not to pick Xavier Doherty for the first Test and to return him to the safety of his natural Tasmanian habitat, where he can live out his career in peace. Together, we can make a difference.
Wednesday, November 21st The IPL may be the finest franchise-based Indian Twenty20 League in the world, but there is room for improvement. I’m thinking particularly of the unsatisfactory names with which many of the teams are burdened. I mean, Super Kings? A proper monarch should require no adjectival adornment. And Chargers? What does that mean? That they are in the habit of demanding a fee? That they are a team of electrical engineers? And don’t get me started on the redundant plural in the name of the team from Kolkata. Everyone knows that the Hoff worked alone.
Well Zimbabwe have shown the cricket world how it should be done. Their recently completed Twenty20 bash was stuffed full of teams with proper names, names to fire the imagination. I give you, in no particular order: Rocks, Mountaineers, Tuskers, Rhinos and Eagles. You see, a snappy title can transform a hum-drum sporting collective at a stroke. For instance, one of the teams is Mid-West. Yawn. But wait a moment. What about Mid-West Rhinos? Much better. Now they sound like a gang of armoured ruminants from the wrong side of town. Good work, Zimbabwe Cricket *
Thursday, November 22nd Cricket isn’t just a religion; it’s far more useful than that. It can offer sound advice of direct relevance to everyone’s life. Indeed, cricket has saved my skin on more than one occasion. Take this afternoon, for example. Having recklessly volunteered to go shopping, I was presented with a lengthy list of items to purchase, a certain sum of money with which to purchase them and a deadline. My quest did not go well. I got lost on my way to the shopping centre, was unable to prevent a pigeon from eating the list and then rashly invested the money in the 3:40 at Uttoxeter.
Upon my return I was questioned somewhat critically on the missing money and the absence of shopping but thanks to my knowledge of the great game, I was able to draw on the wisdom of the great Kumar, from his Sermon after the first Test in Galle. It was suggested that I had failed. This was incorrect. I pointed out that I had not failed; I had just not executed my plans. Not executing your plans, I explained, is like failing, but nowhere near as bad. Aside from a little light bruising and the odd broken tea cup, this worked a treat. I’m planning to use it next week to explain to the Inland Revenue why my tax return is late. I’ll let you know how I get on.
* As far as I am aware this is the first time that this particular sentence has ever been used in public.
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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