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Tuesday, January 11th What? Postponed? Until February? Did one of the ICC’s crack three-man Judgement Squad have tickets to the opera? Were the seats in the Auditorium of Justice particularly lumpy? Or could it be that this was merely the operation of the oldest of legal principles: why finish today what you can charge for tomorrow?
Officially, the excuse is that Amir’s lawyers wanted the panel’s verdict written up but none of the Trio of Truth can type. At least I think that was it. Salman Butt’s lawyers also made requests, but, frankly, I suspect that their insistence on the verdict being inscribed by Franciscan monks on paper made only from the pulp of the rare Bolivian Sequoia and embroidered with myrrh might have been delaying tactics.
So the ICC can add “inability to stage a courtroom drama” to “failed brewery-based function arranging” and “inadequate administration of a popular bat-and-ball sport” on its corporate CV. Imagine the final moments of the penultimate episode of your favourite legal drama. The judge is poised to deliver justice, the courtroom is hushed and the faces of the accused taut with tension. The stirring theme tune strikes up as the credits roll and then you hear the voice of the continuity announcer:
“The concluding episode of No Ball No Justice will be shown in three weeks time.”
You’d want to throw something at the television. At least I would.
Wednesday January 12th Graeme Smith, how could you? Eulogising Imran Tahir like that, banging on about how terrific his legbreak is and how you’d always wanted a player like him and how exciting it was to have an attacking spinner in the squad. Did you, I wonder, ever give a moment’s thought to Paul? Of course you didn’t! In the Tests he is always there for you, but no sooner is his back turned than you’re gushing over someone new.
How do you think it makes him feel? He’s given the best years of his trundling career to you, but out of sight, out of mind, eh! If I was you, Paul, I wouldn’t stand for it. Why should you make yourself available for a man who don’t give you no respect, who snubs you in public like that? No one could blame you if you retired from international cricket on the spot. And let’s face it, that might save time later on.
Friday January 14th John Wright continues to ruffle feathers and disturb tiaras as the new director of the New Zealand Drama and Dance Academy. This time, he has had some harsh words for the troupe who were in such a hurry to depart the stage in Hamilton last week.
“If you’re picked as a batsman, your job is to get runs.”
Ouch. That was harsh enough, but it got worse.
“Whatever we plan, and they’re pretty simple plans…”
This provoked an immediate press release from the International Federation of Backroom Staff and Associated Hangers-On (Auckland Branch)”
“We note these comments with concern. Our members work tirelessly behind the scenes to produce the dossiers, pie charts and colourful graphs without which the modern game would completely grind to a halt. We estimate that a successful Test team needs 17.65 volumes of statistical analysis, featuring on average, 123,000 words, 164.12 diagrams and 17.4 pop-up flow charts. We can assure Mr Wright that there is nothing simple about our plans.”
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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. Providing his ransom demands continue to be met, he has promised never to write a whimsical book about village cricket. @hughandrews73