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The ICC has revealed that it had instructed all member boards to remove zippers from their cricketers' kits well before the latest ball-tampering controversy. The boards have apparently been given until 2015 to do the needful, by which time it has been estimated that the ICC's lone official tailor, a lovable old gent known only as Mr Fingers, would have made his doddering way around the world and personally removed the offending zippers, stitch by stitch. But things don't end there; rumour has it that a panel of experts has been commissioned to put together a series of suggestions to further limit the ways bowlers can influence the ball. Their recommendations so far:
* Doing away with trousers entirely, following observations that increasing numbers of bowlers have been rubbing the ball against these items of clothing, thereby altering its condition to suit their needs.
* Banning bowlers from sweating, generating saliva, and otherwise secreting any kind of bodily fluid that can then be smeared disgustingly upon the ball in the hopes of influencing its behaviour or totally grossing out batsmen.
* Continuing to deny Adnan Akmal his curious request for wearing whilst keeping wicket a special, zipper-laden black leather mask he otherwise keeps safely hidden in his bedroom.
* No-balling bowlers for non full-tosses. The practice of gratuitously bouncing the ball against an abrasive pitch - and getting it needlessly scuffed up in the process -- before it reaches the batsman, or "bowling", has for long been looked upon with deep suspicion by batsmen, who consider the act a devious form of open sabotage. "Frankly, this has been going on for far too long," said one long-suffering batsman, "and right under our noses, too."
* No-balling bowlers regardless of what they do.
* A return to underarm bowling. People may scoff at the idea at first, but at least they won't scuff as much. Not only does bowling underarm seem to naturally lend itself to gently lobbed full-tosses, a la slow-pitch baseball, many batsmen agree that the kind of on-bended-knee grovel of an action that bowlers have to adopt while going about it is a more accurate and deserved representation of their lowly station in life.
* Life bans for bowling bouncers. Yes, time to once and for all do away with the barely-legal-as-it-is practice of bowling "bouncers", whereby the ball is slammed into the pitch as hard as possible by a rogue bowler, in the process doing untold amounts of damage to its already fragile condition. Let's face it: if that isn't ball-tampering, what is? And just when you thought Monty Panesar was reason enough to ban bouncers...
* Doing away with seams. Whether in clothing or on a cricket ball, it would appear that seams have outlived their usefulness. Removing this silly frill from the ball is being mooted as a way to make it more difficult for bowlers to favour one side over the other while shining the ball and thereby deriving undue advantage. Besides, it should make for a hell of a Youtube video. "Idiot fast bowler is severely confused when presented with seamless ball" is being hotly anticipated to go viral, or at least as popular as "Confused canine stuck behind missing glass door".
* Miming it in. For the sake of appearances, bowlers can be invited to mime the act of delivering non-existent balls. It should be second nature to them, having already had extensive prior experience with "going through the motions" as it were. Facepaint, striped shirt, berets and suspenders optional. Or mandatory, even.
* Awarding runs to batsmen without their having to actually hit a ball, as the impact of bat upon ball has been found to be yet another way in which its condition can be altered in favour of bowlers.
* Replacing matches with award ceremonies. This way you get to cut out the middle man, providing for a safe platform instead, where batsmen can be felicitated for their achievements by other batsmen without having to go through the tedious vicissitudes of trying to prove themselves on the field of play first.
* Playing book cricket instead.
R Rajkumar tweets here.
All quotes and "facts" in this piece are made up, but you knew that already, didn't you?
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
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