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Saturday, 11th December What is the key to defeating corruption in cricket? Tough sentences for those caught and convicted? Full disclosure of cricketers’ financial dealings and assets? Nope. The secret, apparently, is education. So the PCB have assigned to Wasim Bari the vital task of explaining to Pakistani cricketers that it is wrong to take money in exchange for fixing the results of cricket matches.
The PCB have spared no expense in backing Bari with a hard-hitting poster campaign. Designed by Ijaz Butt’s great-grandson and utilising the latest in wax-colouration technology, the poster features a cartoon cricketer receiving a bundle of money from a suspicious looking man in a fedora. Below this startling visual representation of all that is wrong with the modern game is printed the word, “Bad” in bold capitals.
And Mr Bari has an uncompromising message for the cricketers of Pakistan:
“It has never been acceptable for players to get involved in fixing, apart from when it was, but it certainly isn’t anymore, not even if you don’t get caught.”
Sunday, 12th December Following the revelation that Nathan Hauritz has sold some of his cricket memorabilia in a fit of pique, Cricket Australia have retaliated by putting Hauritz up for sale on eBay, along with an assortment of discarded spinners including a Krezja, a Doherty, a Casson and a McGain.
The full listing describes the job lot of offspinners, left-armers and leggies as:
“Unwanted selections, barely used, some slight wear and tear around the edges. Would make lovely gift for struggling village cricket team. Could also make eye-catching garden ornaments or theatrical dummies for West End. Baggy green caps and lingering feeling of resentment included.”
Monday, 13th December Michael Beer isn’t the only new face in the Australian squad. Johnson Mitchell is an exciting prospect: a dashing young fast bowler known for his immaculate dental hygiene and uncanny ability to land at least three balls an over on the cut strip. The young lad apparently celebrated his call-up by getting a tattoo of a pitch drawn on his left forearm, featuring helpful arrows indicating where to bowl.
One or two irresponsible journalists have suggested that Johnson Mitchell bears an uncanny resemblance to Aussie reject and all-round no-hoper Mitchell Johnson, an accusation that Andrew Hilditch, wearing a foil hat, was quick to refute.
“Mitchell Johnson is a failed pie-chucker who simply cannot be relied upon in a crucial Ashes battle; he is a luxury we can’t afford. Johnson Mitchell, on the other hand, is a deadly fast bowler who will cause the English batsmen sleepless nights, particularly since we had that radar device fitted to his cranium.”
Tuesday, 14th December The news that the 96-year-old politician and part-time spinner Sanath Jayasuriya has been selected for Sri Lanka’s provisional World Cup squad has drawn a swift response from the ICC’s Dignity Department.
“Mr Jayasuriya hasn’t reached double figures since 2007 and this selection is a violation of his human rights, specifically, his right not to be forced to embarrass himself in public We all remember watching Mike Gatting lumbering out to bat in 1993 and surely no one wants to see a repeat of those horrific scenes.”
However, a delighted Jayasuriya has stated that he hopes to be in contention for the 2015 tournament and, dodgy hip permitting, the 2019 and 2023 editions as well.
“You’re only as young as you feel,” quipped the elderly bat-swisher, “And I don’t feel a day over 67.”
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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. His latest book is available here and here @hughandrews73