This, that and the other. Mostly the other
Glorious club cricket. That unimpeachable paragon of our fair and wondrous sport.
The magnificent spectacle of outfields that have remained unmown for so long that herds of giraffe have ousted the previous residents of cow corner. The marvels of artificial pitches so uneven they could transform unassuming Ashley Giles non-turners into a Curtly Ambrose decapitator-comets. The unsurpassed succulence of the mince-and-cheese pies that are gobbled on the way to the game after sleeping in too long on Saturday, again.
Surely the heart and soul of cricket are the regular cricketfolk who brave heavy hangovers to stumble onto their respective fields every weekend.
But for so long club cricket has been consigned to being second choice; family birthdays, work engagements and awkward drives with the in-laws, all taking precedence over slipping on the whites and having a bit of a slog.
Enter Lasith Malinga and Chris Gayle.
What these valiant men have done by effectively shirking national commitments is to put club cricket above all else - where it belongs. In Malinga and Gayle, club cricket finally has the progressively long-haired, revolutionarily pierced heroes it so terribly deserves.
It's clear their decisions have been in the interests of preserving noble club cricket traditions like ragging on a team-mate's girlfriend while he is in the middle, sledging gingers more viciously than you abuse real people, and sneaking into the car park to slash the tyres of the umpire who gave you out lbw.
In fact, the world of club cricket is so obviously superior to representing your country at the international level that it's a little surprising no one has done it before them. Who'd want the chance to turn out in national uniform when you could play in leagues where batsmen regularly wear their groin protectors outside the trousers? Who'd want the chance to compete against the best in the world when you can bowl to a guy who has crushed a six pack before walking to the middle?
It's completely fair that cricketers who are among the best in the world turn down the chance of playing for their country to turn out for their club. No club cricketer ever dreams of walking out with their national team to raucous applause in front of a packed stadium, do they? No grade player has fantasies of hitting a hundred at Lord's, or taking a five-for at the MCG. Or imagines how good it would feel to one day get close enough to Ravi Shastri to punch him in the face.
In fact, as a club cricketer, most of my time is spent praying that I never get a phone call from those damned national selectors. All that fame, pride, and glory of playing international cricket just sounds like such a drag. And imagine all the girls who would be chasing you. Eww. I think I'll leave all that to guys like Sachin, Sangakkara and Steyn. Suckers!
As a result I have decided to take my cues from Malinga and Gayle and officially declare myself unavailable for national selection. This is mainly so I can focus my cricketing efforts on my club side, the Cornwall Tax Evaders (a team who, in turn, take their cues from that great club showcase, the IPL), but also, I have a weird pimple thing on my foot and I don't really want to risk it.
If you are a club cricketer anywhere in the world, I urge you to stand up for yourself and do the same. You'll thank me when you are never asked to play Test cricket for your country.
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