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Saturday, 16th April The WIPA are not happy and have filed a notice of dispute against the WICB, only the third since breakfast. This time they are properly riled up. They think the selection of the West Indies team was influenced by issues other than “performance, potential, playing conditions and preparedness” though they don’t elaborate. Perhaps they had run out of p words. Not that it matters: for all the difference it will make, they might just as well have cited pumpkins, pineapples, prestidigitation and parachutes.
The decision to ditch our old friends, Cool Chris, Shiv the Crab, and Hamstring Ramnaresh was many things. It was baffling, bizarre, and more than a little bonkers. But that’s how they roll at the WICB. They get to pick the team and that’s that. The WIPA say the selection process was not fair or transparent. In the long history of our game, has there ever been a fair and transparent selection process? It’s always smoky rooms, old men in suits, names in a hat and “My nephew is quite a player you know.” Fair and transparent selection policies? Whatever next? Accountability? Integrity?
Sunday, 17th April Zulquarnain Haider is to return to Pakistan, having grown bored of waiting for his asylum application to be processed. Chalk another one up to the Home Office. Their next step would have been to claim that they had never received it in the first place, find it, lose it, find it then lose it again and it would eventually turn up next August in a small filing cabinet somewhere in the Outer Hebrides.
Now obviously, a talented young cricketer fleeing abroad in fear for his life can count upon the full support of his country’s cricket board. Unless, of course, that board is the PCB. As you remember, they conducted a fact-phobic fact-finding investigation into the affair and concluded that, besides the death threats, they couldn’t find any reason for his giving up cricket and flying to the UK. No doubt they will be doing everything to help him rebuild his career upon his return.
But he will face some stiff competition. They aren’t short of wicketkeepers at the PCB, thanks to their ongoing contract with Akmal Glove Logistics, the family firm that promises never to take their eye off the ball, even when it’s lying on the turf by their feet.
Monday, 18th April Graeme Swann has today criticised “rollers”. For a moment I thought he was having a pop at those large iron wheels with the big handles. But it turns out he’s taking a swipe at our proud English tradition of spinners who don’t turn the ball. For a time in the 1990s, “rollers” were the fashion. Every county had four and most of them had England caps. Unsurprisingly, the General Secretary of the Amalgamated Union of Rollers and Trundlers has already bashed out a stiff email rebuttal to Mr Swann.
And as a roller myself I can tell Graeme that there is more to it than waddling up and putting it there or thereabouts, although admittedly, not much more. For example, you might be a “spear-it-in” kind of roller. Or you might be a “shuffle-up-and-turn-your arm-over-with-minimal-effort” kind of cove. Perhaps you might wear a flashy wrist band or cultivate a distracting hairstyle. But whatever the method, the philosophy of the roller is a simple and a dignified one. A cricket ball can be floated up, fired in or flung down, but it must never be spun. For spinning a leather sphere would be an unnatural use of finger and opposable thumb, a gift of evolution that was designed for manipulating small pieces of sharpened flint, rolling cigars and picking your nose.
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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