The ballad of Shaun and Lasith
Friday, 1st April April is here and it won’t be too long before we hear those familiar, gentle sounds of sploshing tea, sporadic clapping and elderly men snoring under the business supplement of the Daily Telegraph. Yes, it’s nearly county cricket time and to get us in the mood, here is a selection of today’s county news, only parts of which are true:
In order to give members a chance of seeing their latest signing, Surrey have announced that during the lunch intervals of Championship matches they will be using the Oval’s big screen to show highlights of KP’s recent hernia operation.
Leicestershire and Lancashire will be making history this season as they become the first county teams to merge. The new Super-County will be called Bankruptshire and they hope to play their home games on a patch of waste ground near Accrington.
The MCC have revealed that one of the reasons their pink balls have gone down so well with players is that the lacquer used on the balls is strawberry flavoured.
Derbyshire have landed something of a coup and, despite a somewhat limited budget, have managed to sign Sachin Tendulkar for the Friends Provident T20. Sachin will be available for up to 15 minutes during the opening group game.
Saturday, 2nd April In a surprising twist, the least tedious World Cup banquet since 1992 has ended with a final soufflé that didn’t collapse into a soggy, chaotic mess, and victory champagne that wasn’t flat. But the after party wasn’t all fireworks and flowery garlands. It emerged that India had been fined for their slow over rate, a piece of disciplinary nit-picking that has already earned the ICC a place in the Guinness Book of Records for “Most Superfluous Rule Enforcement at a Sporting Event”.*
Sunday, 3rd April At a packed press conference, Lasith Malinga today announced his intention to retire before the next World Cup, probably. Mopping himself with a towel after attempting to drink from a glass of water that he had been holding at arm’s length, Malinga denied that his unconventional approach to apparently straightforward physical tasks was putting an unnecessary strain on his body.
He also claimed there was a media vendetta against slingers that was putting them under extra stress. He cited the example of Shaun Tait. In a moving story, Malinga explained how one publication had suggested the South Australian was a little bit injury prone and related the sad tale of how Tait had attempted to text the paper to deny the claim, sprained his thumb, and could now be out for six weeks.
Monday, 4th April The ICC have acted quickly to prevent any reoccurrence of Saturday’s toss confusion, caused by Kumar Sangakkara’s ambiguous coin call. From now on, mime is the only officially permissible method. Should a captain wish to indicate “heads”, he will simply point his index finger at his own face (taking care not to poke himself in the eye); whilst a call of “tails” will require him to turn around and wave one hand behind his buttocks in a sort of swishy motion, as though attempting a donkey impersonation.
Tuesday, 5th April Concerned at the extent of bad sportsmanship amongst English schoolchildren, the government has drafted in the MCC to help teach the art of losing politely. Youngsters will be taught how a modern English cricket team deals with defeat: by pretending that you never really wanted to win anyway and that in any case, considering how tired you were, it was a miracle you’d turned up at all.
*Previous holders of this title were FIFA, for the fine they imposed on Pele after he allowed his shirt to become untucked whilst celebrating a goal against Italy at the World Cup in 1970, and special constable Maurice Deladier of the Magny Cours traffic police, who issued Michael Schumacher with a reckless driving citation for waving as he crossed the finishing line in the 1996 French Grand Prix.
Andrew Hughes is a writer currently based in England