Earn money while watching cricket
From time to time, I like to take a financial interest in a cricket match. Not in a Giles Clarke, or a Salman Butt way; my financial interest in a cricket match doesn't mean stopping other people from watching the cricket match, or knowing in advance what's going to happen in the cricket match.
It's just that some cricket matches - the long ones - the ones that go on all week, can be, well, ever so slightly mind-numbing. If it weren't for the outside chance of scooping a fat sum, those five-day bat-a-thons in Bangladesh or Bangalore would be as unappealing as back-to-back performances of Der Ring des Nibelungen in Klingon.
People say that T20 is for the youth with their goldfish attention spans, and Test matches are for us grown-ups. This is wrong. Before I was bitter, cynical and addicted to doughnuts, I was also young. In my summer holidays, I'd run out of stupid things to do outside by the second week of August, so I'd dump my bike, crash on the sofa, and tune out for a few hours to the somnolent ramblings of Tony Lewis and Jack Bannister.
Time has no meaning when you're young. But as you get wrinklier, it becomes a scarce resource, which you're loathe to squander on watching cautious men eke out risk-free runs on pitches of Gobi-desert aridity. In other words, life's too short to watch Alastair Cook bat.
Unless, of course, you're on him at 4/1 to top score. History's on my side here. Georgian cricket was all about the gambling. Lord Thrashem, fuming at losing 10,000 guineas to Lord Gout on a game of "guess the number of frogs in the bag" would go double or nothing on a one-innings match. Two teams would be bought, bribes paid, umpires threatened and the whole affair would end in a riot of drunken fist-fights.
Cricket's gone downhill since then, but we can keep up those noble traditions and enliven proceedings by having the odd wager. But what do you bet on? My preferred method of handing over my money to shady offshore companies is to try to guess the top scorer.
This can help you see the game in a new light. To me, the fourth one-day international between Sri Lanka and New Zealand was not a one-sided, soggy non-event; it was a thrilling, emotional rollercoaster of an afternoon, in which Dinesh Chandimal secured his reputation as the greatest batsman of the modern era.
But sooner or later, every gambler meets their nemesis. In my case: Bangladesh. The problem with Bangladesh is that Nos. 8, 9, and 10 are as likely to top-score as Nos. 1,2 and 3.
I exaggerate. But only slightly. How else do you explain Abul Hasan's century, the kind of innings that has you wiping your screen furiously because that must be a speck of dust, not a third digit? I particularly enjoyed the fact that on 84, he repeatedly charged Fidel Edwards, who was bowling bouncers at the time. Who didn't smile when they read that?
I don't know what price Abul was to top score, but I'm guessing it featured a healthy string of zeros and quite possibly an exclamation mark. If you picked him, feel free to add the words "Cricket Genius" to your email signature. And if you're a Bangladeshi selector, award yourself the weekend off and a celebratory muffin. You've earned it.
Andrew Hughes is a writer currently based in England