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Saturday, June 16th Do the Inuit whine about the snow? Are the Tuareg forever complaining about how sandy the Sahara gets? You’d think that the English would have resigned themselves to moisture, but no, every year we sit in caravans, half-empty sports stadiums and country parks, shivering and dripping, moaning to one another bitterly as though the utter sogginess of June was a total surprise.
There is something particularly demoralising about the dampness of the English summer. It even got to famous philosopher and anal retentive Aristotle, not a man who bored easily, as those who have tackled his endless works will attest. His unfinished volume, The Aquatics, begun during a two-week holiday in Celtic Britain, grinds to a halt in the middle of the second chapter:
“There are seven kinds of rain. First, there is drizzle. Then, there is mizzle, which is akin to drizzle, but of a finer quality. The third kind of precipitation is that known locally as cats and dogs, but neither cats nor dogs are involved. Then there are showers and by Zeus this place is depressing! What time is the trireme home?”
But today the waters of the earth began to dry up and we were able to see some cricket. In particular, we were able to see Ian Bell score an awful lot of runs in a relatively short space of time, which is more or less his job description. So I feel I owe the little chap an apology. He can do what KP does, after all. A few tattoos, a drastic hair cut and a Twitter account, and we won’t even know the difference.
Sunday, June 17th So Sir Allen finally has his just desserts in the form of one of those eye-watering sentences that the American justice system does so well. Those of us who’ve sat through a Jonathan Trott innings might regard a 110-year jail sentence as a trifling thing, but Sir Ponzi is a Twenty20 man so he may find it drags a little.
Naturally, homo sapiens being a rather peculiar sort of species, there are still people out there prepared to stand up for the pirate of the Caribbean. They see him as a grey-haired, scarily-tanned, yacht-dwelling Robin Hood, stealing from the wealthy and redistributing it to the good citizens of Antigua by employing them to mix his cocktails and clean his 17 swimming pools.
Of course, the difference between Sir Shyster and the legendary tree-dwelling tights-wearer is that Mr Hood didn’t deduct quite so much commission. He may have kept a groat or two to cover bow-repair and ale expenses, but he didn’t use the sheriff’s money to build himself a luxury 18-bedroom tree house and a diamond-studded coach pulled by unicorns or to finance an international archery contest.
And Sir Swindler didn’t steal from corrupt Plantagenet monarchs or even from wicked old Alan Rickman. He didn’t cunningly extract millions from the coffers of other wealthy crooks. He stole from teachers, oil workers, farmers, doctors and pensioners in North and South America. He ruined lives just so he could play at being a billionaire and hob nob with Viv Richards, Ian Botham and er, Matt Prior’s wife.
But what about the ECB? Has this legal closure caused anyone in that august organisation to feel a twinge of guilt? Nope. Their £2 million share of the ill-gotten Stanford loot has long ago disappeared into an equally opaque scheme of dubious financial legitimacy: county cricket. So perhaps, in lieu of giving the money back, some of those shiny new buildings that have sprouted up all over the shires in the last couple of years could be renamed. The Allen Stanford Pavillion anyone?
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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