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Saturday, 10th December Today we had a poignant reminder of the franchise that touched all our hearts with their cheerful clothes, crazy boardroom antics and unlikely defeats. The Kochi Calamities are holding a fire sale. Shrewd bidders can grab themselves a bargain at the auction and here are just some of the items available at a knockdown price:
1. Thirty-seven polyester orange and purple shirts, with matching trousers, baseball caps and man-bag accessories. Some tear stains. Ideal for children’s entertainers, holiday camp attendants or circus performers.
2. Two thousand copies of the Kochi theme song, “If Any One Can, Kochi Can”, autographed by Ramesh Powar’s cousin.
3. Sreesanth, fast-medium, reasonable condition, slightly wonky. Headband included.
4. Flat-pack trophy cabinet. Some assembly required.
5. Giant inflatable elephant featuring Mahela Jayawardene on one side and Parthiv Patel on the other. One puncture, in need of some repair.
But not all the IPL news is bad. One of the tournament’s most hated features could be on the way out. No, don’t worry, Ravi’s safe. I’m talking about the strategy break.
Surveys have shown that viewers rate this the least popular 180 seconds in all of human experience. It came in ahead of the long uncomfortable pause after you ask someone to marry you; it was less well liked than those unpleasant moments between when the doctor asks you to roll up your sleeve and when he jabs you with the needle and it was considered more frustrating than the interminable time it takes your stupid computer to get going in the morning because you really need to check your emails.
So the news that the company who sponsors this interval of pointlessness is pulling out is splendid. Hopefully others will get the message that associating your brand with a period of time in which absolutely nothing happens other than a dangerous increase in viewers’ blood pressure is not great for business.
Monday, 12th December The news of Shane Warne’s incapacitation is a blow to the Bacon Butty League as it struggles to persuade us to upgrade our passing interest to something more bankable. But this unfortunate frying-pan related injury is just part of an ignoble tradition of cookery disasters befalling the greats of the game.
WG Grace was a panther at the crease, but when it came to alfresco snacks, he was far less nimble and in 1902, suffered severe beard singeing when he set himself alight whilst trying to toast marshmallows during a camping holiday in the Forest of Dean.
Geoffrey Boycott infamously missed the 1975 Australian tour because of wrist strain brought on by the excessively vigorous whisking of a soufflé mixture. (Geoffrey claimed that he’d been stirring a manly Yorkshire pudding batter, but his dinner guests later confirmed that he had indeed served up a soufflé of delightful whimsy and ethereal delicacy and that furthermore his crème caramel was to die for.)
And then there was the significant dental trauma sustained by IT Botham in 1979 when the free-spirited allrounder refused to conform to the establishment line that you couldn’t make an omelette without breaking eggs.
But Shane’s unfortunate sarnie disaster also highlights a new social problem. In the era of central contracts, the modern player is insulated from the real world and grows up lacking even the most basic of life skills. When released into the community upon retirement, they are clearly a danger to themselves.
So this Christmas, we should all do our bit to support these bewildered ex-pros and help them adjust to a world without room service. Could you teach Matthew Hayden to butter his toast without blinding himself? Or spare 10 minutes to help Murali empty his Hoover? Maybe you could pop round to Darren Gough’s house to explain the dangers of eating peas with a knife?
Shane only wanted a tasty snack but now his BBL career is in tatters. It didn’t have to happen. Together, we can help keep Test cricketers safe in the kitchen.
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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