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Tuesday, 20th March As the Gayle v Hunte row enters its 723rd week, a high-level meeting was held today to break the deadlock. In attendance were the prime ministers of St Vincent and Antigua, officials from CARICOM, WIPA, WICB and Interpol; Kofi Annan, His Holiness the Dalai Lama, Rolf Harris, all the king’s horses and all the king’s men and the universe’s most diplomatic robot, C-3PO, who, as we know, is fluent in over six million dialects including “Sulking Sportsman” and “Pompous Administrator”.
Sadly their combined efforts to put West Indian cricket back together again came to naught because no one could remember what it was that Gayle had said in the first place. This is hardly surprising. It seems so long ago now that the truth is obscured by myth and legend. For example, there are people in downtown Kingston who will tell you that it all started because Gayle accused Ottis Gibson of trying to undermine Ramnaresh Sarwan by saying rude things about his shoes.
Still, it’s not all bad news. Things must be going swimmingly in the Caribbean if two of the region’s prime ministers have the time to play agony aunts to Chris and Julian. By way of a contrast, David Cameron has completely failed to get to grips with the Carlos Tevez situation at Manchester City whilst Barack Obama clearly can’t be bothered to bring his influence to bear on the long-running feud that is threatening to tear apart the Chicago and District Pekinese Breeders Association.
But when you strip away the silliness, the Gayle situation is really about player power. The days when the men in the blazers ran the show is over and now the players are in charge. That isn’t much of an improvement, although I suppose they do tend to wear more fashionable sunglasses. For administrators, it’s a lose-lose situation. You can’t really stop your best players from playing wherever they want and you can’t exile them all because no one will pay to watch a second XI Test match.
For now though, saving face is the order of the day. At some point Chris will agree to pretend to apologise for like, whatever, and Julian will put on a reasonably convincing impression of considering the matter closed. Chris will then reaffirm his commitment to play for the West Indies (whenever there’s no franchise action to be had) whilst the WICB will cordially invite Chris to rejoin the West Indian squad (until such time as they can find a plausible pretext to drop him again).
Friday, 23rd March Complaining about the weather on holiday is about as British as you can get and today Kevin Pietersen showed that those “How To Be British” evening classes are really paying off with a masterly piece of temperature-related grumbling. In fact, according to KP, so hot is the Sri Lankan heat that it is even more of a threat to his team’s chances than spin bowling; an eye-opening claim given that these days even the sight of a spinner warming up can induce an England collapse.
But this was also a masterpiece of pre-emptive excuse-making. No wonder they’re going to lose in that heat. Have you ever tried batting whilst holding a parasol?
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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