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Saturday, 4th December It can’t be easy to be a fan of the Royals, the Kings XI or the Kochi Calamaties. Should you bin your Ramesh Powar tea cosy, unstitch your embroidered Graeme Smith underpants and try to learn the theme tune of the Super Kings? Or do you put your fingers in your ears when the IPL news is on and look forward to the player auction (whenever it may be) as though nothing has happened?
We don’t yet know, for example, whether Rajasthan will be involved in IPL4, but they are being allowed to take part in the auction. This is rather like letting your daughter choose some new goodies from the toy shop but warning her that she might not be allowed to play with them when she gets home. At the time of writing, we don’t know how many teams will be taking part, what the format will be or who will be playing for whom. By the time the IPL gets a grip, we may no longer care.
Sunday, 5th December Congratulations to Darren Sammy and his chaps. Not losing is a significant step forward for Caribbean cricket and not losing in Sri Lanka is almost as praiseworthy an achievement as not losing in India. And though there was more than a hint of dampness around, the West Indians were not, unlike our favourite cousins from the Antipodes, praying for it. The rain merely spoilt the series, it didn’t decide it.
But it is heartening to see that complaining about the weather is just as popular in Sri Lanka as it is England. Speaking for elderly women at bus stops everywhere, Kumar Sangakkara complained that, “The weather’s all topsy turvy these days”. He wants the authorities to investigate rainfall patterns, but to be honest, I’m not sure the ICC will prove any more adept at meteorology than it is at cricket administration.
Monday, 6th December Australia’s inability to take a wicket is becoming baffling. They’ve tried everything: wide balls, full-tosses, half-volleys, balls that don’t spin, non-swinging balls, slow balls: nothing has worked. Some are suggesting Australia are losing because they are too nice and have forgotten how to be snarly and growly. Cricket is a manly game, for men with hairy chests and incidents such as Ricky’s complaints about the sledging on the first day are a namby-pamby embarrassment.
But, aside from being an interesting insight into the peculiarities of the Australian psyche, this is a misrepresentation of the facts. Ricky was not complaining about the unpleasantness of the sledging, but the feebleness of it. The legacy of the Chuckle brothers and of Dennis, Rod and Jeff was being insulted by the dainty name-calling and wishy-washy chat of Prior, Anderson and baby Finn. Michael Vaughan, on Test Match Special, described it as “chirping”. Chirping is a high-pitched sing-song noise made by delicate little creatures that can become intensely irritating. Sounds about right.
Tuesday, 7th December The Dilscoop is a circus shot that cannot fail to entertain. If it comes off, it’s an “oooh look at that” moment, like a daring highwire somersault. If it fails, it is funnier than a collapsible three-wheeled-van packed full of clowns. Today’s effort from Brendon, The Incredible Tattooed Man, was of the latter variety. Bravely, he went down on one knee, wafted his bat up and down like he was trying to fan a small fire, missed the ball entirely and finally toppled over into the dirt. It was quite possibly my favourite Dilfail of 2010.
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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