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Friday, 4th February Our humble sport is more than just a game; it is a lifelong education. Through cricket we can discover so much about the world around us. For example, thanks to the alleged misdemeanours of cricket folk around the world, we have been able to sample the rich variety of legal systems that our planet sustains. From the Lalit Modi saga alone I have learned lots of sexy new legal phrases such as “show-cause notice” and “recuse” and “massive financial irregularities”.
Well, today I was introduced to a dusty nook of English law with which I had hitherto been entirely unfamiliar. Apparently, right here in Blighty, you can be sent to prison for cheating! Who knew? I’ve lived here all my life and I had no idea that the c-word could land you in front of a judge. If only I’d known I was risking a criminal record all those years ago when I scribbled formulas on my arm before my maths GCSE, I never would have done it! So let this be a lesson to you kids, the law is on to you and cheating doesn’t pay. Unless you get away with it, obviously.
Saturday, 5th February This is a sad day for cricket. The wait is over, our fears have been realised and now we know the truth. We all need to take time to reflect on what this means for our sport. No doubt in time we will get over it, but for the moment the loss is palpable. We must face facts, everyone: Sourav Ganguly will not be playing in the IPL.
Why is this? How could it be allowed to happen? In an act of pure cricket vandalism, the IPL has ruled that no franchise can sign him, which means, barring an unlikely appearance in the Birmingham and District Premier League (where I fear the absence of gold taps in many of the pavilion washrooms could be a deal-breaker) I will never again see Sourav on a cricket field with a bat in his hand and a glint in his eye.
Never again will we witness that snort of derision from haughtily curled nostrils as he lets the ball go by; that lordly patrician glare of disapproval as the bowler whizzes one rather too close to the Ganguly cranium; that natural god-given ability to irritate Australians without really trying. And, lest we forget, the most entertaining press conferences in India that don’t involve Virender Sehwag. Farewell, Sourav.
Sunday 6th February More disappointing news. It appears that Shaun Tait will not be used at the World Cup after all. The experimental cricket ball-propelling device had become a popular addition to the sport this winter but Australian authorities have refused to grant it an export licence. Apparently the special extra-strength sticky tape used to hold the Tait together is a crucial component in the Australian air force and so cannot be taken out of the country. The Johnson will not be used either as there are some concerns that its malfunctioning target-location system may render it a threat to local birdlife.
Monday, 7th February After a closely fought campaign between the Silly Party, led by “Crazy” Shahid Afridi and the Dull Party, fronted by “Sensible” Misbah ul-Haq, the result of the first Pakistani Captaincy Election 2011 was declared at the weekend and it was victory for Afridi with a 100% swing to Silliness as the electorate, a Mr Ijaz Butt, cast his vote by carrier pigeon for the man with the nicest hair.
Afridi celebrated his victory with a 57-run defeat in Auckland and after the match promised to bring back the World Cup and to do something silly along the way. Conceding defeat on behalf of the Dull Party, Misbah declared that whilst the result was disappointing, he and his friends would rally behind the new captain and offer him their fullest support until just after they lose their first game.
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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