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Tuesday, 15th January Bearing in mind how well the wars on Terror, Obesity and Drugs have gone, it is probably just as well that the ICC hasn’t officially declared war on Corruption. But even if they haven’t announced the commencement of hostilities, they are pretty damn miffed with corruption. Make no mistake, if corruption sent them an invitation to its wedding, not only would the ICC not go, they wouldn’t even bother RSVP-ing.
Instead the ICC is running a kind of stealth guerrilla campaign against corruption. Today they attempted to disrupt the march of naughtiness by banning players from taking mobile phones into the dressing room. And not just phones. The list of banned dressing-room accoutrements include laptops, carrier pigeons, semaphore flags, plastic cups on string, and those blankets that the Sioux used to send smoke signals.
And, most gloriously of all, there is to be a ban on in-game Twittering. This has little to do with corruption but is a commendable attempt to stem the tide of inanity, profanity and banality that washes towards us in ever higher waves from the general direction of professional cricket. The message to players is clear: Shut up. Stop talking. Say nothing more. Zip it and keep it in a state of zippedness.
Wednesday, 16th January The news that Salman Butt has been hired by a television company may have caused a certain degree of tea spillage and marmalade-themed spluttering at the Lorgat breakfast table, but the whole thing is a big misunderstanding. I hardly think that, having been found guilty of perverting the course of cricket and tainting the game, Mr Butt would be employed to offer us his sporting observations.
No, he has in fact been hired to handle the catering. Butt Ices, the leading purveyor of frozen dairy products to the cricket industry, will be keeping commentators and studio staff refreshed throughout the World Cup and beyond. I understand that his prices are very reasonable and that Salman the Ice-Cream Man is also available at short notice for children’s parties, embassy balls and court appearances.
Friday, 18th January More evidence that the Black Caps are taking this cricket business far too seriously came today in the form of an interview with one of New Zealand’s leading semiologists and the winner of the Most Tattooed Bicep Award 2008, one Brendon McCullum. Switch off your mobiles, put the mongoose back in its cage and send your children out into the street, you’ll need to concentrate to decode this one fully.
“Someone has to flick a switch, somewhere along the line we have to get ourselves across the finishing line and with a W in the column.”
Right, so there’s a line and then there’s another line, electricity is involved at some point and the letter W. The column may refer to Nelson’s Column, but I’m not sure. Maybe if we read on, it will make sense.
“We can’t have that mental blockage or mental baggage heading into this World Cup. We have to ditch that quickly.”
I hope he didn’t have too much trouble at the airport. “Anything to declare, Mr McCullum?” “No, just this mental baggage.” “Did you pack it yourself, sir?”
“We are going to have to borrow some confidence to stare down those situations and dream that we are capable of achieving success in those moments.”
If I’m not much mistaken, that’s the second verse to Norway’s 1978 Eurovision Song Contest entry. But what can it all mean? As far as I can tell, the keys to World Cup success are mental baggage, lines, electricity and confidence rental. Perhaps ESPNcricinfo readers will fare better. If you can work out what Brendon is banging on about, get in touch. A virtual pat on the back for the most convincing answer.
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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