Ashes January 5, 2011

The amazing Punter Preservation Programme

Ricky to swap brains with Chappelli

Saturday, 1st January Sometimes you just have to despair about the modern cricket fan. A number of Bangladeshi cricket lovers have let themselves down today. Why? Because they were desperate to get tickets for the World Cup. What is the matter with these people? Don’t they know that 50-over cricket is like, so last millennium? A great many journalists have gone to a great deal of trouble explaining why we shouldn’t like this format. Have they just been wasting ink? Get with the programme, people!

Sunday, 2nd January The shake-up in the New Zealand cricket system seems to have brought on a mood of melancholy and despair amongst their players. Now Daniel Vettori is sulking:

“Why are we playing these extended one-day series? What’s the point?”

I understand, Daniel, really I do, but we can’t just cancel them all, just because you aren’t very good at them. I mean, did England refuse to play Test matches in the 1990s, just because we were hopeless? Chin up, old chap!

Monday, 3rd January Ricky Ponting is due to have surgery on his little finger this week, but in a bold move, Cricket Australia have brought in some of the leading scientists in the field of biomechanics in a bid to rejuvenate Punter and extend his career for a few more years.

“Originally the plan was for Ricky to be phased out in 2011,” said Professor Hilditch, “But that was before we realised how bad Michael Clarke was at captaincy. So we’ve decided to upgrade the old guy and equip him for the future challenge of hanging around until we can find a half-decent skipper.”

In a pioneering procedure, Ricky’s pinky will be replaced with a laser pointing device with which to dazzle incoming bowlers; his right eye will be fitted with a sphere detection system, enabling him to pick up those hard-to-spot 85mph deliveries from James Anderson and he will wear special gloves that automatically secrete saliva every five seconds, thus removing the need to spit on his palms incessantly.

But perhaps the most challenging part of the procedure is the never-before-attempted brain swap. Former Australian captain Ian Chappell has agreed to temporarily exchange brains with Ricky. If all goes well, it is a win-win arrangement. Australia will get a half-decent captain and levels of grumpiness amongst Channel Nine’s commentary team will remain unaffected.

Tuesday, 4th January So far in this Ashes series, England have led the way in all areas: runs, wickets, catches and, thanks to KP, talking nonsense in public. But Australia have finally had enough of being outdone in the gibberish stakes and so Mitchell Johnson has stepped up to the plate. Fittingly, his approach to public speaking is remarkably similar to his bowling method: he just shuffles up to the microphone and lets go.

“If an umpire thinks it’s a no-ball, he should call it straight away, rather than waiting to call it.”

Well, indeed. Who could argue with that? On the other hand, if he only thinks it might be a no-ball, but he’s not entirely sure, why shouldn’t he avail himself of the technology and get the decision right? “Better quick than accurate” might well be Johnson’s motto, but I’m not sure it’s the best way to umpire.

Andrew Hughes is a writer currently based in England