A guide to 2013 in cricket
Life is like a rain-affected Test match. There's a lot of standing around, too much small talk and long periods when nothing appears to happen. Sadly, you can't fast-forward life to get to the good stuff, or tune in for the highlights show. So for those of who are curious about what will happen in cricket in the next twelve months but don't want to have to sit through all of it to find out, here is the Long Handle guide to 2013.
The biggest news will be the retirement of the Little Master. Having outlasted Wasim, Ambrose, Warne, McGrath, Donald, Murali, Mullally, George Bush snr, George Bush jnr, two Gulf Wars, apartheid, Mother Theresa and the Space Shuttle, Sachin will finally pack it in during the Australian series when he realises that he can't remember which one is Starc and which one is Cummins.
In the period between Sachin's mentioning casually to a journalist he meets in a corridor that he might be thinking about calling it a day, and the moment when he pulls off his sweat bands for the final time, the Tendulkar industry will experience a merchandising Big Bang. So many souvenir pull-outs, commemorative mouse-mats and Tendulkar statuettes will be produced that the streets of Mumbai will be drowning in memorabilia. By the summer, the Indian government will intervene, buying up the stock and disposing of it by launching it into space where it will form a new planet, Sachin 1.
There will be more cricket innovations in 2013. The Commentator Review System will enable viewers to have particularly dreadful passages of commentary referred to a man in a booth who has the power to send erring microphone jockeys to a cliché sin bin. And the idea of different captains for different formats will be taken to the next level. Inspired by England's 1988 multi-skipper experiment, John Buchanan will name six captains for their summer tour, one for each day of Test cricket that New Zealand expect to play.
During that series, Alastair Cook will officially become the dullest batsman in English history, earning his place in the pantheon of tedium with a characteristically boring push off the back foot. However, scandal will overshadow his record when he grinds to a halt mid-pitch on his way to pick up his 757th single of the summer, and the team physio discovers a small plastic cover at the back of his neck where the batteries go.
The County Championship will also see some changes in 2013. In order to prove critics of the ailing shire-based snoozefest wrong, Giles Clarke will announce an expansion of the competition to 24 teams, with the addition of Shropshire, Rutland, the Isle of Wight, Narnia, Toyland and the breakaway Republic of South Staffordshire. Narnia will bid to host a Test match in 2014 and Toyland will immediately announce plans to build a hospitality and conference facility out of toy bricks, in order to stave off bankruptcy.
Finally, after a 131-year-run, the Ashes will reach its conclusion. During the Boxing Day "Best of Nine" Test, Shane Watson will announce that he's sick of the sight of Kevin Pietersen and wander off to play in the BBL, accompanied by most of his team-mates and Kevin Pietersen. A commemorative Ashes Overkill Souvenir Programme (priced £20.99) will be burnt by a member of the Barmy Army, and the ashes of the Ashes will be sealed for posterity in an empty lager can.
Andrew Hughes is a writer currently based in England