England February 11, 2012

All you wanted to know about Saeed Ajmal

Thursday, 9th February What’s the difference between a nuclear fallout and a media fallout*

Thursday, 9th February What’s the difference between a nuclear fallout and a media fallout*? Well, a nuclear fallout is a deeply unpleasant side effect that lingers interminably, whereas a media fallout is a deeply unpleasant side effect that lingers interminably for which journalists get paid.

Early in the recent series, a few English types tried to launch the Saeed Ajmal crooked arm thing, but like a poorly constructed kite on a windless afternoon, it didn’t really take off, no matter how much they ran with it. In the end it was left to Saeed himself to take pity on the struggling hacks by talking about his special dispensation from the ICC to have a bent arm or something. I forget the details.

And as sure as the doosra follows Ian Bell’s front pad, a little typhoon of tediousness blew up in the desert as journalists and message board trolls desperately tried to fan the infant spark of baby controversy into a toddler-sized blaze. Yesterday, ESPNcricinfo’s own King Cnut, George Dobell, tried valiantly to stand against the waves of silliness by laying out the facts about Saeed’s perfectly legal action.

But no one with newspapers to sell or fellow cricket lovers to annoy is interested in anything as dreary as facts and George’s efforts have not stemmed the tide of preposterous speculation and libellous insanity. So it falls to the Long Handle to sort things out. In no particular order, here are the answers to the questions you wanted to ask, didn’t ask because you were afraid you’d look stupid but then thought, “Ah well, it’s the internet, no one’s looking,” and posted them up anyway.

I heard from the wife of the man who grooms Shoaib Akhtar’s poodle that Saeed Ajmal cannot straighten his right arm as he is half-velociraptor. Is this true?

No. Saeed only spent his summer holidays with the velociraptors who were friends of the family. In fact, he grew up on a ranch in Oklahoma where he developed the kink in his arm from too much vigorous lassoing of cattle as a child.

Ten years ago, in a secret deal with the PCB, the ICC cleared the use of artificial arms with food blender attachments that can impart illegal levels of spin and pace on the ball and, being made of aluminium, never get tired. Is this true?

This is perfectly true, but to date, Mitchell Johnson is the only international cricketer to have incorporated cyborg technology, with mixed results. Engineers are now working on the Midge 2.01, a mechanical arm featuring a safety valve that prevents the bowler from releasing the ball if he’s facing in the wrong direction.

Last August, whilst browsing in the Redditch branch of Sainsbury’s I saw Saeed Ajmal reaching for a tin of pilchards from the top shelf of the tinned produce aisle and I noticed that he completely straightened his arm. Doesn’t this prove beyond reasonable doubt that he is a cheat, albeit a cheat with a high Omega 3 intake?

No. In fact, it is well know that Saeed is allergic to fish, which is why when he was shipwrecked in the Bermuda Triangle with Lady Gaga and the UN Secretary General they were able to sustain themselves by catching sea creatures, whilst our hero lost two kilograms in weight and had to survive by eating pages of Ian Bell’s autobiography. The man you mistook for Saeed was almost certainly Ramiz Raja without the Austin Powers wig that he dons for his celebrity appearances on Sky.

My friend and I were having a disagreement. She thinks the argument about DRS is the most tedious topic of cricket conversation known to humanity, but I’m convinced that the degrees of tolerance debate is so boring it can cause birds to fall out of the sky and fish to commit suicide by banging their heads against the side of their tank just to make it stop. Which of us is right?

You both are.

* Not to be confused with a media falling out, which is what happens when David Gower accidentally treads on Jonathan Agnew’s foot and causes him to tip coffee all over Geoffrey Boycott’s laptop as he’s writing his column for the Whine on Sunday.

Andrew Hughes is a writer currently based in England