Of swans and squirrels
When we first started running caption competitions during the Ashes last summer, we hadn't expected to receive so many entries of such creative quality. Thankfully, you let us down on several occasions but we can report that the standards have risen to previously untouched levels with our latest competition - thanks to the presence of a rather large squirrel.
It wasn't long before the nuts, fur and swan jokes clawed their way into our inbox, and Mohamed Ali kicked things off with a splendid first effort that had us clapping in unison. "It's nothing to do with cricket here lads; the agenda is animal rights - a kiwi, a squirrel and a swan." Very good, Mohamed - in fact, so good was his entry that it was several hours until we received anything of similar chortle-value but Mr Anonymous provided it. "Stephen Fleming, Ricky Ponting and Graeme Swann answer questions at a post-match conference..." Very cruel, very droll, and understandably anonymous.
Niall Spooner-Harvey got to the real nuts and bolts of the issue (sorry), and was one of dozens to offer similar thoughts on the event: "Graeme Swann looks on as his CEO and captain confirm the club's rebirth as Nuttinghamshire CCC." And Mark Gray, from Hemel Hempstead, told a tall tale with his chuckler: "Notts confirm they have the best tail in county cricket." He wasn't the first, or the last to offer similar sentiments. "We just hope that his tail is as good as Sri Lanka's!" exclaimed Paul Boguszewski, which was even better than Mark's.
Anishka Jayasinghe emailed from Colombo - before Sri Lanka brushed aside England in the final Test at Trent Bridge - showing great lateral thinking with her's: "I think Mr Squirrel will be a great addition the to the New Zealand cricket team and I give him my full support for his selection." With Daniel Vettori injured, again, Anishka's musings may not be so far off the mark.
However, if there's one way to tickle our ribs, it's with the unexpected - and Jamie Bristow, from Melksham in England, provided it in spades. "Graeme Swann was definitely impressed with Chris Read's latest attempt to get noticed by the England selectors. Stephen Fleming thought he was just plain nuts." Well done that man; a pun and a clever jibe all in two sentences was just what we were looking for. Have a prize on us.
While we love the clever and unexpected observations, we've a particular soft spot for the extraordinary: enter Tony Geer from Georgetown, Guyana. "Big brown squirrel? What big brown squirrel?" Brilliant effort Tony. However, Tony was outdone by Ramendra Saha, a graduate from the department of Oral Biology in Lincoln, USA. "Aspirant models for a dental commercial. The dentist wanted his models to reflect, in addition to their dental pearls, experience of handling nuts in Sherwood forest and Trent Bridge park." Very nearly a winner, Ramendra.
Hailing from Melbourne in Australia, Dilantha Gunwardana was positively prolific, sending in ten whole entries. And while they were all very fine efforts, his first stood out from the pack. "Squirrel: 'Darn Stephen. If you had an 'o' at the end of your name, we would have had a squirrel, a swan and a flemingo......and we would have been one big family'". Superb, Dilantha.
Will Luke is editorial assistant of Cricinfo