Australia May 21, 2011

The Silly Bash and the Kieron Kopter

Both were created for Twenty20, but one is redundant like the American banking system and the other is a handy tool for all cricketing journeymen

Wednesday, 18th May Australia are expanding their Twenty20 tournament. They have ticked all the right boxes. No evidence that Australians want more Twenty20. Check. Watered down imitation of the IPL. Check. Silly team names. Check. But wait, isn’t there a danger that they have missed the boat on all this? Aren’t new Twenty20 leagues so 2008? Head zombie Mike McKenna doesn’t think so.

“There are a lot of people still feeling the game out, what’s the right way to play it, where to play games, what’s the right number of teams.”

A sentence like that really deserves a closer reading.

“There are a lot of people still feeling the game out.”

Are there? There may be a couple of yak herders in Mongolia who have never heard of the Dilscoop, but that’s probably about it.

“What’s the right way to play it?”

Score as many runs as you can as quickly as possible?

“Where to play the games?”

On cricket pitches, preferably near where lots of people live.

“What’s the right number of teams?”

In my experience, a useful rule of thumb is that the right number of teams is about 25% less than the number of teams who actually take part.

But I’m being unfair. This stuff isn’t for you or me. It’s comfort talk, soothing words for the benefit of the speaker; the PR equivalent of sitting on your sofa eating from a tub of ice cream because you think your boyfriend is about to leave you. He might just as well have said this:

“Oh my god! We’re really really worried that the Big Silly Bash is going to be a big fat flop but if we keep talking, maybe it’ll be okay, yes, I’m sure it’s going to be fine. Look, the sun’s coming out over there. Everything’s going to be all right. It really is.”

Thursday, 19th May The great thing about Twitter is that there really is no limit to the ways in which professional sportsmen can use it to get themselves into trouble. Today it was Craig Kieswetter’s turn to invite Mr Stupidity round for tea and biscuits. He posted a photograph taken through the windscreen of his moving car. Oh dear. Fortunately, it was a false alarm, the photo was taken by a passenger and not by our hero.

But the key question is not who took the photo, but what was on the motorway that was so fascinating Craig felt the need to share it with the world? An elephant on a skateboard? A life-size version of the Eiffel Tower made entirely from marzipan? Elvis overtaking in the outside lane? And it raises serious doubts about his Test credentials. If he is so easily distracted that he finds motorways diverting, can he really be trusted to stand still for a day and a half?

Friday, 20th May The debate has raged all week and now a nation holds its breath as the panel of judges prepare to give their verdicts. Who will be the winner in the talent contest to end them all? Who will earn themselves the coveted title of England’s sixth best batsman? Will it be Cheeky Anglo-Irishman Eoin “Reverse-Sweep” Morgan or Swaggering Essex Boy Ravi “Not Really A No. 3” Bopara? Vote now!

Having grown bored of churning out those traditional early season articles about how the County Championship is really a vibrant and popular competition and then having understandably grown bored of writing about the County Championship, English cricket hacks have moved on to the familiar third item on the summer’s agenda: the desperate hyping of a minor national selection issue into a major event.

And we all know it’s going to be Ravi anyway. The argument goes like this: Eoin has been in India, so is totally unprepared for Test cricket, as demonstrated by the 156 he scored against Sri Lanka this week. Ravi, on the other hand, put country first by choosing not to play in the IPL after none of the franchises bid for him. So Ravi will be going to Cardiff and Eoin will be flying back to Kolkata in the emergency vehicle known as the Keiron Kopter, originally built to carry Trinidad’s second-best allrounder to any Twenty20 league in the world at a moment’s notice.

Andrew Hughes is a writer currently based in England