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Wednesday, 12th October The long-awaited sequel to Bye Bye Birdie may not win many awards, but it will be warmly received. Bye Bye Butty is the story of one man’s slapstick boardroom escapades after he is mistaken for a senior cricket administrator and finds himself running the PCB for three years. A hilarious sequence of mishaps and pratfalls ensues, made all the more poignant by the fact that it’s based on a true story.
But after several scrapes and legal near-misses, the hapless impostor is rumbled and he is forced to clear his desk. The show includes a rousing rendition of “I Did It My Way (Badly)” as the hero is cheered off the stage by an enthusiastic audience and ends with a tearful lament entitled, “What Will We Write About Now?”, performed by a chorus of comedians, satirists and journalists.
So farewell, Ijaz and a big hello to Mr Zaka Ashraf! I’m sure his credentials are impeccable. For a start, he is, er, a banker. But hey, we shouldn’t hold that against him, after all, not all bankers are irresponsible sociopaths. What else has he got going for him? Well, he’s a friend of President Zardari. But hey, we shouldn’t hold that against him, not all friends of President Zardari get top jobs just because they’re friends of President Zardari, although come to think of it, most of them do.
But let’s give the man a chance. I mean, come on, he surely can’t be as bad as the last guy, can he? (That isn’t a challenge, by the way, Zaka).
Thursday, 13th October Tim Neilsen retired a month ago and Australia still need a coach. But they might not get one for a while. Why’s that? James Sutherland, chief obfuscating officer of Cricket Australia, tried to explain:
“What I've always said is we will step up this process but we're not going to get ahead of ourselves. We understand the urgency but we're not going to compromise the process, because we have to make sure that we go through a rigorous process... It’s clearly a key focus…We’re in a position from today to go forward very quickly with that and roll that out over the next month or so, or whatever it takes…”
It reminds me of that short-lived sequel to Skippy the Bush Kangaroo: Jimmy the Administrative Wallaby. What’s that, Jimmy? There’s a little boy trapped down the well? And you think we need to set up a committee to facilitate a robust process to identify the key elements of the rescue package and ensure effective implementation to bring about a post-well-entrappage situation?
I think what Jimmy is saying is that they can’t choose a coach until the new general performance manager starts work and the new general performance manager doesn’t start work until the back end of November. I only hope he doesn’t choose his festive gifts in the same way as I fear it may be a lean Christmas chez Sutherland:
“I’m sorry dear, but I had to make sure there was a rigorous process in place and unfortunately my Yuletide Project Gift-Enabling Facilitator wasn’t able to take up his post until Christmas Eve, but I am confident that, going forward, we’ll be in a position to identify presents by the end of February or Easter at the latest…”
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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