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Cricket fans all around the world were enthralled by Kumar Sangakkara recently when he delivered the Colin Cowdrey Spirit of Cricket Lecture at the Lord's Cricket Ground in London.
"It was enthralling," said one cricket fan, of the speech, which touched upon many topics, including war and peace in Sri Lanka, corruption in cricket and the sport's spotty record when it comes to administration. The speech received a largely positive response from the international cricket-playing fraternity.
"Yes it is very good," said Sachin Tendulkar, "but I think I speak for all cricketers when I say that it could have been even better with Snickometer and Hot Spot."
"Sorry, but I did not hear it the first time because of crowd noise. Can he kindly give the speech again? Tails!" was MS Dhoni's carefully weighed response.
One of the most eagerly anticipated responses to the speech was that of Australian umpire Darrell Hair, who rose to the occasion when he had this to say about the lecture: "No ball."
The ICC was more measured in its response to the Sri Lankan's speech. Chief executive Haroon Lorgat told us via email: "As far as the Colin Cowdrey lecture is concerned, the ICC's opinion, as an impartial governor of the sport, is that [Lorgat's secretary to copy-paste response here from BCCI press release and change words using thesaurus function before sending to ESPNcricinfo]."
So scintillatingly enthralling has the response been that the ICC has now released a comprehensive list of lectures to be delivered by cricket luminaries in the coming months. "We hope," said the ICC press release, "that this will bring cricket closer to the hearts and minds of fans and will help reveal new dimensions to the lives and personalities of the people who make this sport special. Especially Hero Honda."
The tentative list is as follows:
28th July 2011
Speaker: Sachin Tendulkar
Speaker bio: Legendary Indian batsman, bowler, import-export
Topic: "Is too much money threatening to destroy the moral fibre and ethical integrity of world cricket?"
Venue: Private. By invitation only.
15th August 2011
Speaker: Michael Holding
Speaker bio: Former West Indian player, commentator
Topic: "Twenty20 is what you get when Satan breeds with an investment banker and the resultant offspring is brought up without love by brutal Columbian drug lords: A critical review"
Venue: To be decided. Not in India.
9th September 2011
Speaker: Stafanie Taylor
Speaker bio: West Indian cricketer, current world No. 2 in the women's ODI rankings
Topic: "Women's cricket: A glittering future"
Venue: Speaker's one-bedroom apartment. Tea will be served. Bring friends. Please.
27th September 2011
Speaker: Warren Deutrom
Speaker Bio: Cricket Ireland chief executive
Topic: (Variable based on developments) "Associates finally get a chance to shine" OR "ICC, suck on this"
Venue: (Variable based on topic) ICC headquarters, Dubai OR Irish pub, Dublin
11th October 2011
Speaker: Salman Butt
Speaker bio: Entrepreneur
Topic: "What will be the third word in my 17th sentence?"
Venue: Croydon Athletic FC auditorium
7th November 2011
Speaker: Duncan Fletcher
Speaker bio: Former Zimbabwe cricketer, India coach
Topic: "BCCI: What a bunch of blithering nincompoops to work for"
Venue: The Taj Mahal Palace and Tower, Mumbai
8th November 2011
Speaker: Duncan Fletcher
Speaker bio: Former Zimbabwe cricketer, nearly former India coach
Topic: "Yesterday's lecture: An international media conspiracy to misquote and misinterpret. I said 'glittering winsome hoots'"
Venue: Within one metre of N Srinivasan
24th November 2011
Speaker: MS Dhoni
Speaker bio: India captain
Topic: "Motivational Lecture: Stop losing! Start drawing now!"
Venue: Our Lady of Perpetual Caution High School, Alwarpet, Chennai. (Near Traffic Signal.) Official school motto in Latin: "Ut Illic Et Obscurum Ayyayyo". English translation: "When there is darkness, let me offer draw."
28th November 2011
Speaker: Vijay Mallya
Speaker bio: Owner, Royal Challengers Bangalore; Co-owner, BCCI
Topic: First Annual Andrew Flintoff Spirits of Cricket Lecture
2011 focus spirit: Gin
Venue: Jawaharlal Stadium International Stadium, Kochi
Special note: Lecture will be followed by keynote address - delivered through the medium of contemporary dance - by any local cricketer of international prominence.
15th December 2011
Special Year-end Event: The India Cricket Lectures. A day-long series of talks on the past, present and future of Indian cricket.
Topic 1: "Indian cricket: More than Sachin"
Speaker 1: Sourav Ganguly
Topic 2: "Looking beyond Ganguly and Tendulkar"
Speaker 2: Rahul Dravid
Topic 3: "Dare to think beyond The Wall, The Prince and The Little Master"
Speaker 3: VVS Laxman
Topic 4: "See ball. Hit ball"
Speaker 4: Virender Sehwag
Closing Presidential Address: "India: Our cricket and our family values"
Presidential Speaker: Krishnamachari Srikkanth.
Sidin Vadukut is the managing editor of Livemint.com and the author of the novel Dork: The Incredible Adventures of Robin 'Einstein' Varghese. He blogs at Domain Maximus.
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