ICC June 30, 2012

The circus comes to town

It's just that the town is in Malaysia

Sharad Pawar’s travelling International Cricket Circus is always a popular attraction and this week it has pitched up in Kuala Lumpur. As ever, there are plenty of clowns to keep people entertained, as well as the main show in the Big Top, featuring master of ceremonies Dave Richardson trying to persuade his well fed co-star, the Ferocious Srinivasan, to swallow the DRS system whole.

And if that’s not exciting enough, over in the Tent of Procrastination spectators have been invited to marvel at the daring high-wire concept of day-night cricket. If you haven’t seen it before, it’s well worth a look. You’ll gasp in astonishment as one administrator after another comes within a bullet point of taking the plunge before leaping to safety at the last minute

The idea of playing Test cricket in the evening has been under active investigation by the ICC’s Long Grass Committee since the day after Hitler invaded Russia, but there have been one or two problems to iron out along the way. For instance, the issue of whether it should be called Dusk Cricket or Twilight Cricket took up most of the 1990s and the last decade saw a fierce debate over whether the specially coated pink cricket ball could properly be described as fuchsia, since in a certain light it was more of a bashful cerise.

But now it’s all systems go. Almost. The various cricket boards are keen to get cracking, but Jacques Faul, stand-in big cheese at CSA, has spotted a problem. What is it, Jacques?

“I’m a little scared about the dew factor.”

I should explain. In certain locales, evening means dew, and dew, as we know, is wet. Now on the one hand, playing on a wet pitch might be a good thing. More bowler-friendly conditions means more wickets, more entertainment and more crowd satisfaction. If cricket spectators are happier, they will be more productive at their places of work, leading to an increase in global GDP, the end of the worldwide recession and the dawning of a new era of peace and prosperity.

On the other hand, cricketers don’t like to get their feet wet. Unlike association footballers, Aussie Rules players, rugby players, hurlers, Gaelic footballers, American footballers, athletes, horses, greyhounds, pigeons and primary school children at their annual sports day, our brave Test players cannot compete in the wet. At the merest hint of moisture, they stampede for safety like a herd of anxious wildebeest who have heard a rumour about a hungry cat.

It wouldn’t be entirely fair to say that this aquaphobia is all down to the players. Cricket politics is also to blame and by cricket politics, of course, we mean India. The BCCI are against the idea of playing in the wet because the muddier the trousers, the longer they take to clean and they resent having to pay everyone else’s laundry bills, particularly since the new DRS brand of washing powder that everyone uses is not 100% successful at removing stubborn stains, even at higher temperatures.

“I wash my dirty linen with a stone and a bucket of water,” said Mr Srinivasan. “That’s the way it’s been for decades and if it’s good enough for me, it’s good enough for Tony Greig.”

There is some good news though. It is hoped that the hot air generated by ICC meetings about saving five-day cricket can be harnessed and used to power the automatic hand dryers in the lavatories of all Test venues. This means that from now on, Test match spectators will be able to take a comfort break safe in the knowledge that they will no longer have to endure the misery of temporarily damp palms as they return to their seats in the deserted stands.

Andrew Hughes is a writer currently based in England