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Saturday, 27th November Kochi are in. Rajasthan were out but they might be in again. That said, Kochi might still be out. The head of the BCCI said he would need some time to study the latest developments. I don’t blame him. I’ve put some of my brainiest brain cells onto the job and I still can’t make any sense of the thing. Then again, business talk always numbs my neurons. Share options, equity, consortium… excuse me, did I nod off there? Most of these IPL stories could be repackaged as lullabies.
Besides, I much preferred the old IPL, the one where all the dodgy stuff was done behind the curtains. You knew it probably stank, but they at least had the decency to keep the mess out of sight. No one wants to go and watch a play in which the director spends the first hour explaining why the set is a bit rickety and the plot is full of holes. All this openness and probity is a big yawn. Let’s get back to what it’s all about: silly hype, silly money and silly cricket. With fireworks. And blimps.
Sunday, 28th November “Owww!”
What on earth could that be at three o clock in the morning? A night prowler falling foul of a well-placed bear trap? Mitchell Johnson striving for extra accuracy and catching the square-leg umpire on the ankle?
Nope, it is the sound that David Gower makes when Nasser Hussain drives a chair leg into his toe. I’ve every sympathy for DG. No one wants to be woken up suddenly like that, especially not when they’re at work. Of course it could be that the chair thing was just a fabrication, to cover up the true reason for Gower’s existential yowl: the realisation that he might have to watch Alastair Cook bat for three days.
Monday, 29th November A tricky time of year for those of us obliged to take part in Christmas festivities has just been made a whole lot easier. Got a cricket-loving adolescent in the family? Then they’ll love the new James Anderson book, Sledging for Beginners. Page after page of barely audible insinuations, surefire pouting tips and lower-lip workouts. Aimed at 10-year-olds, or possibly eight-year-olds with attitude, it is set to be a bestseller.
As a little taste of what the reader can expect, stump microphones in Brisbane picked up this exchange during Australia’s sleepy second innings:
Anderson: “Mumble mumble mumble.” Batsman: “I’m sorry could you say that again?” Anderson: “Oh you heard!” Batsman: “Actually, no I didn’t.” Anderson: “Yeah right, mumble, mumble.” Batsman: “I’m sorry, I really have no idea what you’re saying…”
Ouch! Vicious stuff, I’m sure you’ll agree.
Tuesday, 30th November You might think that getting selected for the Pakistan team is a straightforward affair. A chap only needs to remain out of jail and in possession of a passport and a bat to get a go. But it isn’t as easy as all that. You still need some kind of hook, some catchy selling point. And, if you’re Kamran Akmal, you need a damn good one if you’re going to grab that 17th chance to prove yourself.
So Akmal fans will be pleased to hear that the toothy one has spotted an opportunity.
“Every Pakistan team needs a scapegoat, but at the moment we don’t really have one. So I’ve been working hard on certain areas of my game, like taking the blame, copping the flak and being the fall guy. If I get another chance, I believe I’ve got many years of being called names at the top level left in me.”
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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