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Tuesday, April 19th With the imminent abdication of Andrew Strauss from the one-day international throne, we are entering King Lear territory. Strauss is the ageing monarch. Alastair Cook is Cordelia. And Stuart Broad and KP are the ugly sisters, entirely unsuited to the position, but nevertheless jostling their way to the front of the media’s attention. Perhaps Strauss might stick to the script and divide the captaincy between them?
Last week, Bambi let it be known that yes, he’d quite like to do the job some day, but personally, he thought Straussy should go on for ever and ever. KP wasn’t quite so subtle today and inevitably found time to mention what happened the last time he was in charge. He said that it was water under the bridge, though this particular stretch of water has been recycled a number of times and is starting to look a bit murky.
But though the entertainment value of another KP captaincy stint should not be underestimated, I’m not sure that what England need to lead their rebuilding is a man who looks good in sunglasses. He should probably stick to what he’s best at: hitting huge sixes, communicating complicated emotional states in 140 characters or less and finding imaginative ways to lose his wicket to part-time left-arm spinners.
Wednesday, April 20th Chris Gayle today demonstrated the efficacy of a new sportsman rehabilitation programme. Based around the recuperative power of the dollar, the new approach is believed to work directly on an individual’s bank account and involves significant transfusions of money. The effects are remarkable. Yesterday, Chris was injured. Today he is fit again and on Friday he will be able to play for Bangalore.
Cynicism aside, I have every sympathy with Gayle. The only thing that I don’t like is that these players are so coy about the choices they make. Why would you put your body through the strain of a five-day match, watched by nobody, for a modest wage, when you can play a more exciting brand of cricket in front of an audience of millions for a fortune? Country versus franchise? No contest.
Thursday, April 21st At long last, the crisis that threatened to slightly disrupt Sri Lanka’s preparations for a not-very-important Test series is over. At a press conference today, a spokesman for Sri Lanka Cricket read out the following statement.
“First of all, let me say that in no way would we give in to pressure. The BCCI may be a large, powerful, and if I may say so, a deeply attractive, charismatic and fragrant organisation, but we make our own decisions. I can reveal that we did have a fruitful and productive meeting with Indian officials and we were persuaded by their arguments, particularly the points made by their associates with the baseball bats.
As you are aware, earlier this week we demanded that, if they could be bothered, our better players might like to consider turning up in England on May 5. We believed that two weeks was necessary to adjust to English conditions. We now realise that this was complete nonsense and that 24 hours and a jolly good nap on the plane is sufficient acclimatisation. We apologise for any inconvenience caused. Go Kochi!”
Friday, April 22nd A Chris Gayle century is never dull and his debut for the Royal Challengers was typical in its spectacular brutality. Perhaps the best part though was when Virat Kohli realised he was in danger of pooping the party and denying Gayle his ton. Two runs to win, three balls to go in the over and the professional thing would have been to plunder the runs. But the watching millions did not tune in for a display of hard-nosed professionalism. We want drama, excitement, entertainment and, occasionally, a little human interest. Well done, Virat, for seeing the bigger picture.
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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