The Heavy Ball

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Undercover agents infiltrate teams

Why India v New Zealand will be all spy v spy. And Australia's nomenclature crisis

Anand Ramachandran

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Hamish Bennett sweats it out at a training session, Ahmedabad, November 2, 2010
Hamish Bennett: note poorly concealed recording device causing back of shirt to bunch up in an unseemly way © AFP
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The ICC has confirmed that the upcoming India-New Zealand series is the perfect opportunity to test their hare-brained "undercover agents" idea, by the cunning ploy of concealing these agents in a rather unusual place - the New Zealand team.

"It's perfect. They'll blend right in," said a spokesman for the ACSU, rubbing his hands together and looking around furtively like a B-movie spy. "Except for Daniel Vettori, Brendon McCullum, Ross Taylor and Jesse Ryder, none of the players can be recognised by anyone in India anyway. So if one or two of them are actually secret agents, no one will notice.

"Furthermore, if these agents were hidden in the Australian or South African teams, their ineptitude at cricket would quickly give them away. However, in the New Zealand team, the very same ineptitude provides great camouflage - since most of the players there are pretty incompetent anyway. However, as a precaution we have instructed the agents not to blow their cover by actually performing well. We can't be too careful, you know."

The spokesman also scoffed at the idea that including undercover agents in place of cricketers in the team may reduce New Zealand's chances of winning in India.

"You serious, mate? If your batting average is going to be 8.3, does it really matter whether you're Shanan Stewart or Private Eye Smith? If you're going to go for 0 for 112, does it make a difference whether you're Tim Southee or my uncle Abner?"

Meanwhile, the curious Indian habit of referring to the very act of leaving the ball as "well left", regardless of the quality of the leave itself, has finally found validation. The ICC has decided to shrug their shoulders and include the term in the official coaching manual.

"In India, you'll often hear bizarre sentences like 'He played a "well-left", but the ball came back in and hit the stumps,'" explained a man known simply as Murugan. "People here think that 'well-left' is the name of the stroke where the batsman shoulders arms and lets the ball through, and not an appreciative exclamation that needs to be made only if the batsman has shown great judgement in doing so." According to Murugan, other common usages of "well-left" in India include, "It was so wide outside the off stump, the only thing Sachin could do was play a 'well-left'", "He's just a night-watchman. All he needs to do is 'well-left' every ball that isn't on the stumps" and "Rajnikanth is so awesome, even his 'well-lefts' go for six."

"It's a great victory for Indian cricket. We rule the game both on and off the field, so there's no reason why we shouldn't rule its lexicon as well," gushed a man known simply as Malhotra, chairman of a group calling themselves Brotherhood Of Lexicography & Literature Of Cricket Knowledge, Saurashtra. According to Malhotra, efforts are also on to gain legitimacy for other well-known Indian cricketing terms, such as "dokku", "hit out or get out" and "gaaji".

 
 
"It's a great victory for Indian cricket. We rule the game both on and off the field, so there's no reason why we shouldn't rule its lexicon as well," gushed a man known simply as Malhotra, chairman of a group calling themselves Brotherhood Of Lexicography & Literature Of Cricket Knowledge, Saurashtra
 

Ahead of the upcoming Ashes, several former Australian greats are worried about a new weakness that has emerged in the Australian team's bowling attack - the complete lack of fast bowlers with fearsome, badass names.

"As pointed out by Cricinfo columnist Sidin Vadukut, names are crucial to cricketing success," said former captain Ian Chappell, expressing concern. "In the past, Australia has always boasted bowing attacks chock-full of intimidating fast bowlers with appropriately macho names. But look at the present lot. 'Peter Siddle' sounds like a bumbling character from some Enid Blyton book who only walks sideways. 'Doug Bollinger' sounds like a nervous, polite chemist. Hilfenhaus sounds like a German word for customer service centre. And what on earth is a guy named Peter George doing in a new-ball attack? Seriously!" complained Chappell.

Chappell believes that, in order to have a chance at regaining the famous urn, Australian bowlers may have to resort to the extreme step of legally changing their names. "You can't win an Ashes with a bunch of names that are more likely to send the opposition into hysterical giggling fits than make them cower in fear. I, for one, strongly suggest that we get guys like Doug Bollinger, Peter George and John Hastings to change their names to more fearsome, macho alternatives, such as Butch Cassidy, Kubikiri Asaemon and Judge Dredd. That would be a start," he said.

"If only we had more players with truly badass names like Ryu Hayabusa, Mordin Solus and Spider Jerusalem," he said wistfully, carelessly letting slip that he played Mass Effect 2 in his spare time.

RSS FeedAnand Ramachandran is a writer, comics creator and videogame designer who works when he isn't playing some game with an "of" in its name. He blogs here and tweets here. The quotes and "facts" in this piece are all made up (but you knew that already, didn't you?)

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Posted by Dummy4 on (November 5, 2010, 18:24 GMT)

very funny article.... Thanks Anand

for the benefit of everyone... dokku.......defensive stroke gajji.........hogging strike

Posted by David on (November 4, 2010, 22:33 GMT)

nice article but Hastings full name is actually John Wayne Hastings. Pretty manly name!

Posted by Dummy4 on (November 4, 2010, 19:37 GMT)

Rajnikant is like... every 'Well Left' is equal to 600 Runs and not just 6.... (Oru tharavai sonna nooru tharavai sonna mathiri)... meaning ... If I tell once it equals telling 100 times... for him one run means 100 runs... so it should be 600 runs...

LOL.

Posted by Dummy4 on (November 4, 2010, 19:10 GMT)

"Brotherhood Of Lexicography & Literature Of Cricket Knowledge, Saurashtra": I see what you did there. :D

Posted by Satish on (November 4, 2010, 18:44 GMT)

Brilliance. When we were kids, the usage was "he well-lefted the ball".

Posted by Karthik on (November 4, 2010, 17:07 GMT)

I guess they will now start working on a new action-thriller movie regarding undercover agents in world cricket - "The world cup is not enough". The lead actor - Bond, Shane Bond.

Posted by Ravi on (November 4, 2010, 16:31 GMT)

"Well left" - v funny. I remember schoolboy tennis cricket in Bombay (as it was then), and team mates shrieking "Play 'played'!" (meaning play a forward defensive, because in the '70s, that's all the cricket commentators seemed to have the Indian batsmen doing).

Posted by Samir on (November 4, 2010, 16:11 GMT)

great stuff!! "grubber", "pitch-catch" and "current stumping" also come to mind....

Posted by Dummy4 on (November 4, 2010, 15:45 GMT)

Funny article.... loved the bit about Chuck norris...er... i mean our superstar

Posted by Nitin on (November 4, 2010, 14:16 GMT)

If you found Siddle funny, how about Sidebottom? I also saw a recent article about Imran Khan being selected for his nice posterrior. This should be very interesting for all our statisticians; to select the best eleven posteriors in history of cricket!

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Anand Ramachandran
Anand Ramachandran is a game designer and writer based in Bangalore. He specialises in finding creative ways to justify time and money spent on watching sports, playing games and reading comics as "professional investment". He boasts a batting average of 79.66 with 53 first-class hundreds in various cricket videogames, on platforms as diverse as the Sinclair ZX-Spectrum and modern PCs and consoles.

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Anand Ramachandran Anand Ramachandran is a game designer and writer based in Bangalore. He specialises in finding creative ways to justify time and money spent on watching sports, playing games and reading comics as "professional investment". He boasts a batting average of 79.66 with 53 first-class hundreds in various cricket videogames, on platforms as diverse as the Sinclair ZX-Spectrum and modern PCs and consoles.
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