Sri Lanka December 3, 2011

The Sri Lankans' payment protest

The unpaid players haven't had sit-ins or walkouts

Wednesday, 30th November As Sri Lankan cricket’s temporary cash-flow crisis enters its 214th day, there’s good news for Tillakaratne, Kumar and friends, who have taken to living under the covers at the Premadasa Stadium, eating grass cuttings and burning Mahela’s spare bats to keep warm. The politicians are on the case.

“The sports ministry is making arrangements to resolve this issue,” said a man in a suit. “The players will be paid very soon. They need not worry.”

I suspect that if I hadn’t been paid since April, I would long ago have abandoned worry, worked my way steadily through perturbation, consternation, despair and hysteria and would by now be angrier than Jade Dernbach when he discovered that Craig Kieswetter had stolen the last wildebeest sausage at England’s annual braai.

It’s true that SLC doesn’t have a lot of spare cash at the moment, but that is not the players’ concern. Last spring I was a little short myself as I was waiting on an unpaid debt (I’d confessed to a friend that watching Sky’s cricket coverage often drove me to blasphemy and he’d wagered that he could endure a whole weekend of Gower and Botham without resorting to that kind of language. In the end, he did 20 minutes.)

Anyway, until he could stump up the money from his congregation, I was left in a bit of a hole, gas-bill wise. So I laid it all out to a cheerful sounding chap at the GasCorp call centre, assuring him that payment was most definitely imminent and that he was not to worry. At this news, he lost his call-handling joie de vivre, turned decidedly frosty and began to prophesise all manner of dire consequences of a legal nature.

And with hindsight, I can see his point. So it’s a minor miracle that Dilshan and chums have not yet downed bats, face guards and athletic supports and staged a sit-in, followed by a march around the outfield bearing placards. But then, perhaps I’m missing something. Perhaps their recent on-pitch debacles were a kind of protest and a pretty tasty threat too: pay up, SLC or the defeats keep on coming.

Thursday, 1st December The first PCB get-together of the post-Butt era was a great success. Everyone who is anyone in Pakistan cricket was there, Ramiz had a new hairdo, and a splendid time was had by all. Many of those present had fallen out with old Ijaz for one reason or another and hadn’t visited PCB Towers for months, so there was much catching up to do, and I have it on good authority that the gossip was of the juiciest quality.

In fact the whole affair turned into something of an epic. It lasted nine hours and we know this because they were trying out the new Alastair Cook egg timer, designed to measure interminable intervals of time. The device was upturned when Mr Ashraf politely coughed to signal play and by the time a third administrator had passed out and the meeting was declared closed, only half of the sand had fallen from the top of Alastair’s glass leg glance into Alastair’s glass boots.

Sadly, there was no time to decide on a new coach but there was an agreement in principle to create a committee to look into streamlining the committee-creation process, and a meeting was pencilled in for next month to discuss the desirability of monthly meetings.

Friday, 2nd December With a late entry for the 2011 Superfluous Sacrifice Award, Samit Patel has ruled himself out of next year’s IPL auction. He’s not the only one. I’ve also excused myself, as have the Dalai Lama, Newt Gingrich, the racehorse Kauto Star, the Archduke Franz Ferdinand and Mrs Ethel Makepeace of 17, Elder Grove, Nantwich, who has a lot of knitting to get on with ahead of next April’s trip to Eastbourne and so has had to reluctantly decline an imaginary offer of $2m dollars from Rajasthan.

Andrew Hughes is a writer currently based in England