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Friday, 24th December Normally, here at the Long Handle we enjoy a good fact-hunt. What could be more stirring than middle-aged men in suits crouched in the metaphorical undergrowth, diligently tracking their prey through thickets of hearsay and forests of misinformation? But the PCB’s latest fact-finding expedition into the Haider affair, wasn’t much of a hunt. It was more like a fact-foraging trip, in which facts that had already been left lying around were gathered up, dusted down and rearranged.
In trying to get to the bottom of things, the three wise men seem to have relied entirely on casual conversations rather than written submissions. Perhaps they were trying to save the rainforests. Yet surprisingly, although this fact-finding report is light on, er, facts, it does find plenty of room for insinuation, gossip and innuendo. Thus they are able to inform us that Haider is “a person who is easily convinced into believing whatever is said to him”. Perhaps they should offer him a job at the PCB?
Saturday, 25th December Disturbing news from Kerala, where there appears to be a kerfuffle about the building of a new stadium. Some people are objecting on the flimsy basis that the area contains mangrove swamps and important wetlands. Well, what nonsense. The world is amply supplied with land that is wet, but what we are really short of is enormous concrete bowls with plastic seats, ample car parking and floodlights. Crack on with the building, chaps, and if the crocodiles give you any trouble, offer them free IPL tickets.
Sunday, 26th December There has been a reshuffle in New Zealand cricket and Kyle Mills is not happy. He knows who to blame, too. No, not the players. Apparently, it’s our fault, for being stupid and gullible.
“…the media think they have all the answers and express this to the public and the public buy into it.”
Ah, the public. He means us. You and me, the plebs who pay Mr Mills’ wages and turn up in our thousands (or in the case of New Zealand, our dozens) to watch him play cricket. We are to blame for the abandonment of the previous regime, for the installation of Mr John Wright, and above all for the 11 consecutive one-day defeats that poor Mr Mills has had to endure. We should be ashamed of ourselves.
Monday, 27th December Bad news for parents with cricket-loving kids. The manufacturers of the bestselling pint-sized interactive cricket doll, Lil Ricky, have announced an urgent recall of this popular product. We have reprinted the press release in its entirety:
“It has come to our attention that there are one or two technical issues that could affect your enjoyment of Lil Ricky and so we are advising parents whose children own one of these items to return them to the factory.
The problem appears to involve the ‘Disgruntled’ setting, in which the doll is supposed to walk round in circles for about 30 seconds, grumbling semi-audible expletives, before settling back into a slip-fielding position. Unfortunately some of the dolls are malfunctioning. One concerned parent has reported that instead of switching itself off, her son’s Lil Ricky stood remonstrating with him for eight minutes, then had an argument with the family cat before stomping off into the garden, shaking its little round plastic head.
Our technical department are aware of these problems, which seem to be as a result of the product reaching the end of its working life. We would ask people to return their Lil Rickys and in exchange we will send them our latest toy, ‘Captain Pup’, a loveable little chap with a cheeky green cap, who can yelp the Australian national anthem. Comes with free grooming kit, tattoo transfers and detachable credibility.”
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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