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Wednesday, 15th December Steven Smith has been told not to worry too much about runs or wickets. His main role will be to bring the fun.
“For me it is about making sure I am having fun and making sure everyone else around me is having fun.”
Selector Hilditch, who has been receiving treatment for a nervous tic and a tendency to cackle insanely at inappropriate moments, said that Smith’s comedic abilities were essential if Australia were to regain the Ashes.
“Nothing is more vital to a successful team than forced jollity ha ha, he he! Tomorrow you will see a different team. There will be fixed grins all round, some of the players are experimenting with red noses and custard pies will be issued at the drinks break.”
Smith has apparently studied for a Masters degree in Practical Pleasantries at the Allan Lamb Centre for Irritating Personality Traits and is keen to put his skills to work, bringing the fun back to the Aussie team.
“After all, everyone else is laughing at us, so it’s about time we learned to laugh at ourselves,” said Smith, before squirting journalists with water from a plastic daisy attached to his lapel.
Thursday, 16th December It appears that lie detector tests are to be introduced to root out corrupt players. Steve Waugh put the case for their use: “If a bloke’s got nothing to hide, why not?”
Fair enough, I’m convinced. And this opens up all kinds of possibilities. I understand that the ICC are considering going one step further and reintroducing the ducking stool, a popular device from the Middle Ages. Players suspected of naughtiness will be seated in the contraption and repeatedly ducked under water. If they drown, their innocence will be proven and their posthumous reputations restored. If they fail to drown, then clearly they must be in league with evil forces and should therefore be burned at the stake, or possibly forced to go on Shane Warne’s new chat show.
Friday, 17th December India may be losing the Test, but coiffure-wise, they are well ahead. Jacques Kallis is undoubtedly hairier than he was before, but having come into such splendid follicular good fortune, he hasn’t yet decided what he is going to do with it, the result being a kind of floppy-fringed insouciance. And the rest of the South Africans have always been resolutely of the “short back and sides” school.
Not so the tourists. Ishant’s locks are as luxuriant as ever, but even he is eclipsed, (literally, depending on the angle of the sun) by Sreesanth’s ‘do. With his big bold hairband and big bad hair, he is a one-man celebration of the late 1970s. Indeed, with all that pouting, shouting and complaining, he is starting to resemble an Asian McEnroe, although the former Wimbledon champion would probably make a better mid-on.
Meanwhile, back home, I have seen some alarming pictures from Eden Gardens that appear to show a building site engaged in a fight with a cricket stadium with the outcome of the contest still in the balance. The BCCI are on the case, and have given every assurance that things will be ready on time, but if you are thinking of going to any of the World Cup games at that venue, it might be a good idea to pack a screwdriver and a hard hat.
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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