January 12, 2011

The Situationist art of Lalit Modi

Mediocre players being bought for scads of cash while worthy cricketers go ignored

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