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Friday, 18th March Despite Old Mother Hilditch’s protestations to the contrary, it does appear that the Australian cricket cupboard is, to put it diplomatically, some way distant from being in a state of fullness. During the glory years, if you wanted the selectors to know who you were, an average of 60 was de rigueur. But these days it seems a couple of cheeky 30s is all you need to get your name into the selection tombola to win a baggy green.
In another era Phil Hughes and his extraordinary limbo-dancing, backward-shuffling, fly-fishing style might have been a backwoods curiosity, a minor provincial spectacle, an offbeat conversation piece on the side table of domestic cricket. But this is 2011 and Phil Hughes is not an eyebrow-raisingly unready rookie; he is the messiah. And judging by Mr Hilditch’s comments today, we can soon expect the third coming.
Admittedly the first and second comings didn’t really work out. But the Australian selectors have a useful little saying: “If it looks like a duck, walks like a duck and quacks like a duck, then it’s probably the beginning of a long and successful Test career.” So the fact that Phil Hughes has now scored some runs in a state game pretty much guarantees that he’ll be seen all at sea again in a Test match near you, soon.
Sunday, 20th March Sadly the Kenyan team are flying home without winning a match. Despite a fantastic new logo, heavy monetary investment (a games console and a copy of Steve Tikolo’s Knocked Out Cricket) and some of the finest sunglasses you’ll ever see on a cricket field, they did not live up to expectations.
“Yes they failed,” explained a senior cricket official, “But we feel that their failure represents a real failure. We had hoped for a slightly disappointing failure. Instead it was a very disappointing failure. This level of failure is, quite frankly, disappointing.”
Cricket Kenya have already conducted a thorough review and have identified the three key factors responsible for this not entirely unprecedented lack of success:
1. Batting: Not very good 2. Bowling: A bit rubbish, really 3. Fielding: Needs work
Monday, 21st March Good news for Darren Sammy and chums but bad news for the vehicle glaziers of Dhaka. The Bangladeshi government have promised the men from the Caribbean top-level security ahead of their defeat to Pakistan. For a start, all the residents of Mirpur will have to don blindfolds as the coach passes, the thinking being that if they can’t see it, their chances of hitting it with a projectile will be significantly reduced.
And in an unprecedented effort, thousands of policemen have been busy confiscating every single stone, rock, boulder, pebble and boiled sweet in the Mirpur district. Keen stone-throwers will still be able to obtain their missiles, but only from approved flinging-supplies shops. These retailers will only be licensed to sell rocks made of foam and fitted with a Donald Duck squeaker so that the West Indies players will be entertained as they are bombarded on their way out of the ground.
“We are taking this very seriously,” chuckled a Bangladeshi government spokesman. “In fact, you could say that no stone has been left unturned.”*
* I understand that the official in question has since been sacked, for violating the “excruciating wordplay” clause in his contract. Firm, but fair, I think you’ll agree.
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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