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Wednesday, 29th June So farewell then, Daryl Harper. He had popularity issues, but then he wasn’t paid to be popular. He was paid to stand there and make snap decisions. When it comes to the men in white, I’m afraid I’m old-school. The umpire is always right. Of course we know that he isn’t always right, that he occasionally blinks at the wrong moment, forgets whether he counted that last no-ball and gets the laws mixed up.
But knowing this and still not whinging when you copped a shocker was etiquette worth preserving; a golden thread in cricket’s tapestry. I quite like the DRS. I enjoy the drama of the slowly unveiled replays; it’s like being a detective in the final scene of a murder mystery, discovering the identity of the miscreant (with a 2% margin for error). It’s entertainment. But I can’t quite shake the nagging feeling that the effigy-burners and the tantrum-throwers have won.
Thursday, 30th June I like to think I’m a reasonable sort of chap. And, aside from the occasional brief lapse of judgement, such as my wager on Worcestershire to win the County Championship, I’m relatively compos mentis. But I’m struggling to fathom the latest bit of ICC logic. Apparently, if we increase the number of teams in the World Cup, that means we have to decrease the number of teams in the World Twenty20.
Why should this be so? Money, according to the ICC’s Chief Executive Obfuscator. So tell us, Haroon, just how much more would it cost us if we were to have a 14-team World Cup and a 16-team World Twenty20? He can’t say. Perhaps he considers it commercially sensitive information. Perhaps he’s worried that one of the many rival international cricket organisations might be planning their own event.
We did learn elsewhere that it would cost roughly US$3million to put back the missing four teams in the World Twenty20. If only there was some way to economise to raise this sum? Maybe not having a five-day junket including a gala dinner and a council meeting at the Ritz Carlton Hotel in Hong Kong’s tallest building might be a good place to start? Have you people not heard of teleconferencing?
Friday, 1st July If ever he wants to turn his life into a light opera, Chris Gayle has already written the lyrics. The statement he released today had everything. He started by claiming that he had been keeping his silence (I think he was being ironic) went a little Martin Luther King in the middle (though Chris had two dreams to the Reverend’s one), told a long and not very stirring tale of mild injustice and ended, 33 paragraphs later, by thanking the Almighty.
Now it doesn’t take a genius to see that he’s been treated unfairly. But then he’s hardly the first. If he thinks he’s had a raw deal from the WICB, he should try playing for Pakistan. Yes we all know it is very silly that he isn’t playing international cricket, but to play for West Indies is still technically a representative honour, a privilege; not a permanent contract or entitlement. Other people decide whether to pick you and sometimes they get it wrong. There are few cricketers I love watching more, but I think I’ve reached my sympathy tipping point. Enough already, Chris.
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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