January 12, 2011

The Situationist art of Lalit Modi

Andrew Hughes
Siddhartha Mallya and Shilpa Shetty, IPL franchise owners, at a press conference during the auction, Bangalore, January 8, 2011
Shilpa Shetty can’t contain her excitement at the launch of her new venture: Big Brother: Airborne, in partnership with Kingfisher  © AFP
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Saturday, 8th January I’m not sure the PCB have quite got the hang of this anti-corruption thing. The dial on their administrative machinery appears to have two settings: “suspect no one” and “suspect everyone”, and at the moment it is stuck firmly on the latter.

Danish Kaneria has not been charged with any crime and is not under investigation by the ICC. And yet he is persona non grata in Pakistan selection circles, as likely to get a game as Barack Obama, Rolf Harris or “President” Asif Ali Zardari, veteran spinner and connoisseur of the cut.

Why is this so? I have a theory. The PCB, having been late converts to the benefits of fighting corruption, are now zealots in the cause and, like all zealots, have to take things that little bit too far. And what’s the only surefire way to prevent players from fixing cricket matches? Simple. Don’t ever let them play in any matches!

Sunday, 9th January The work of conceptual artist Lalit Modi continues to make waves. This weekend, the Situationist collective known as “The IPL” staged a live “auction” at which cricketers were led onto a stage one at a time and “sold” to “franchise owners”, who threw sacks of gold coins at the mediocre players but completely ignored the good ones.

Said one leading art critic:

“The way they subverted cricket’s outmoded patterns of talent hierarchy was breathtaking in its artistic vision. I particularly liked the bit where they put $400,000 next to Michael Yardy’s name. That was hilarious.”

Sourav Ganguly was unavailable to comment (although he is now available for after-dinner engagements and pantomime at very reasonable rates.)

Monday, 10th January This winter’s disagreeable turn of events for Ricky P has caused a certain amount of introspection in the little fella. He wants nothing less than a review of the whole structure of Australian cricket. Next month Merv Hughes and Jeff Thomson are to lead a fact-finding mission to ECB headquarters to find out just what kind of futuristic, state of the art, next-generation set-up we’ve got in England that has enabled us to produce players of the calibre of Kevin Pietersen and Jonathan Trott.

To help speed the process along, I’ve summarised the key changes that the Aussies will need to make if they want to be more like us.

Break up those large, uncompetitive states with their concentration of resources and streamlined scouting and coaching networks and replace them with 18 or so smaller teams who will not be accountable to anyone.

Ideally, incorporate the word “shire” or “sex” into the titles of Australian teams. For example: Victoriashire, Queenslandsex, South Australiashire etc.

Quadruple the amount of cricket played domestically and introduce two new tournaments, at least one of which should be in an irrelevant format, such as, say, 35 or 43 overs.

Ensure that most of the money generated by Cricket Australia is shared amongst the chairpersons of the 18 teams, who in turn are advised to spend it on foreign cricketers, ugly new pavilions and luxury trouser presses.

Identify the 10 most promising players in South Africa and send them complimentary Australian passports.

Obviously there is a little more to it than that. Cricket Australia might also find it useful to try doing absolutely nothing for 20 years, and if questioned, explain that these things have a habit of working themselves out and that it’s all cyclical anyway.

So don’t worry Ricky. Just follow our example and before you can say “Allen Stanford!” the plastic replica of the Ashes urn will be back in Australian hands.

Andrew Hughes is a writer currently based in England

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Posted by crazykric on (January 14, 2011, 5:44 GMT)

Wow Andrew, I didn't know that you know so much about Pakistan....

“President” Asif Ali Zardari, veteran spinner and connoisseur of the cut.... Great anology!

Posted by Anonymous on (January 13, 2011, 4:51 GMT)

"Identify the 10 most promising players in South Africa and send them complimentary Australian passports." Hilarious :)

Posted by Reshameen on (January 13, 2011, 3:51 GMT)

“President” Asif Ali Zardari, veteran spinner and connoisseur of the cut --- Simply hilarious

Posted by mohanish_mnnit@yahoo.co.in on (January 13, 2011, 0:24 GMT)

to find out just what kind of futuristic, state of the art, next-generation set-up we’ve got in England that has enabled us to produce players of the calibre of Kevin Pietersen and Jonathan Trott. .... this was hilarious .. awesome stuff man

Posted by Ali on (January 12, 2011, 22:40 GMT)

I don't like this 'comments' area under certain sections of cricinfo articles particularly page 2 articles written in a lighter vein. It's my belief I admit (and even the author of this article might disagree) but I'd rather quality of journalistisc writing is judged only by other journalists or published authors and in private.

Telling someone his or her article stank is something you do to bloggers, not 'writers.' Unless you are a published author yourself, and understand how hard it is to put together a good sentence or what constitutes good quality writing, stay out of it. If you didn't appreciate it, just think others might do. You ruin it for everyone and not just the author by being a judge, especially if your tone is disrespectful which I believe is usually the case. I am not a writer myself but I am usually in awe of how well they write and how beautifully they bring difficult concepts to life on paper

Posted by DaveP on (January 12, 2011, 20:56 GMT)

Any competitiion that ignores most of the players that won the last two world cups in that discipline (i.e the IPL having virtually no English and no Pakistan players) and pays nobodies almost a million dollars for...well what exactly? Certainly isn't going to get much air time in these parts IP what? Yawn

Posted by Sumit on (January 12, 2011, 19:40 GMT)

I just spent a good five minutes convulsing on the floor with hysterical laughter after reading the bit about Modi's situational art! It's one at night in Mumbai and my flatmate peeked out of his room in alarm to see if everything was allright :)

Andrew, please don't ever stop writing this column - it's the most fun I get to have without getting drunk!

Posted by Sigismund on (January 12, 2011, 19:00 GMT)

The notion of "complimentary" passports is an intriguing one. Was that the secret of the Aussies' past success? Every time they opened their passports, the documents would say flattering things to them, such as, "Jeez, Haydos, you are a truly fantastic player!", or "Strewth, Warnie, you are one seriously good-looking fella. Do you want to shag me in the broom cupboard?"

Posted by The Meaning Company on (January 12, 2011, 17:59 GMT)

IPL is conceptual art . I guess that would make 5 days with geriatrics in SW1 the real thing.

My take Andrew - drink your tepid cuppa - log onto blofeld....and wallow in your post colonial lament.

For the rest of the world and specifically the 700 million in India....jai ho!

Posted by Anonymous on (January 12, 2011, 15:00 GMT)

Stop writing such rubbish.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Andrew Hughes
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

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