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Saturday, 9th April This year the IPL and the County Championship began on the same day. It makes for a startling contrast. Flicking between the two is like travelling in time: from cricket 21st-century style to the late Victorian era and back again. In entertainment terms it’s like choosing between a frenetic weekend trip to a packed out theme park and a wander around your local door-handle museum on a wet Tuesday afternoon.
And internet forums are full of people prepared to argue to a standstill to prove one or the other is best. These days you can’t be a cricket pluralist; you’re either an empty-headed, face-painted Twenty20 fan with the attention span of a goldfish, or you’re a sad old fuddy duddy at war with the modern world, hankering after a colonial past in which the sun never set on the dullest way of playing mankind’s greatest sport.
But why must we choose? Why deny ourselves one or the other? Let’s cherish cricket in all its forms. Personally, at the moment the county version doesn’t really float my boat. But if fate allows, post-retirement I intend to spend many long afternoons quietly snoozing in the shires. The County Championship is like Parliament, the Law Courts and open-heart surgery. I don’t really want to watch it, but I’m glad it’s there.
Sunday, 10th April Pune have more players than anyone else. This is clearly unfair, but it does bring with it a particular problem. When Yuvraj sits down to pick his XI, he must feel like a schoolboy given the keys to a sweet shop. The temptation to try everything must be overwhelming. Where do you start? Picking an IPL team must be like trying to complete a crossword puzzle in which there are 27 answers to each clue.
Pune won today and so did Malinga. He caused more bruised toes than a short-sighted hippopotamus learning to tango. There’s even a dance named after him. It’s called the Malinga Shuffle and it’s easy to learn. Shift your weight to your right. Crouch in anticipation. Stare helplessly into the middle distance as though trying to spot a pouncing snow leopard in a blizzard. Then double up, hop backwards and try to hit yourself on the foot with your own bat. Falling over is optional.
Monday, 11th April Today something interesting happened at New Road. No, not the fact that Worcestershire’s latest brief visit to the First Division began with a nine-wicket loss in three days. It was the fact that Adil Rashid took an awful lot of wickets. This is rather inconvenient. If he carries on like this, things might get rather uncomfortable for those on the England selection committee currently suffering from Rashidophobia. When we need a second spinner against Sri Lanka, could it be that they will be left with no choice but to pick the talented youngster? Or will they give John Emburey a call?
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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