This, that and the other. Mostly the other
As a shocked nation struggles to come to terms with the unfortunate events in England last week, it is no small thing that we can still turn to the welcome distraction sport provides to lift, if only momentarily, our heads from the gloom.
While it has of late been a time of intense introspection and soul-searching for society in general, it would appear that it has been just as difficult, if not more so, for cricket administrators and equipment manufacturers.
"What a sad, difficult week it has been," agreed the visibly shaken ECB chairman, Giles Clarke. "I mean, you have to ask yourself what kind of a society we're living in when ordinary law-abiding citizens have to resort to such measures as buying a baseball bat to protect their homes.
"Especially when said law-abiding citizens are English ones. I mean, would it have hurt anyone to have ordered a cricket bat instead?
"Oh, wait… perhaps that's not the best way to phrase that," he said, dabbing a handkerchief against a moist eye.
"Good god, man, did you know that UK sales of the baseball bats have reportedly risen by 6000% over the last week?" he thundered, recovering. "Think about what it says about our national sport!
"And if a national sport can't provide for its citizens in their time of need, then what good is it?"
Mr Clarke then turned to one of his lackeys to whisper, "Cricket is still our national sport, isn't it? Make some calls and find out."
Cricket bat manufacturers around the country were also nursing inferiority complexes since news broke of the baseball bat sales.
"You know what they call baseball in America?" sneered Mr Clyde Weatherbee, CEO of a noted cricket equipment manufacturer. "The national pastime. That's right, pastime! Well, let me just remind everyone who went out and bought a baseball bat that we in England call our cultural sporting institutions just that - a sport, like any real man's game should be. Not some gratuitous little hobby."
The outrage was shared by some former players.
"You want something to defend yourself with? Isn't that precisely one of the things a cricket bat is made for? Defending?" Sunil Gavaskar wanted to know.
Eminent sociologist and emerging part-time Wikipedia movie-plot summariser Seymour Glass said that Hollywood was to blame for cricket's strange new low. "The baseball bat has always been the sporting weapon of choice in the films we see. How many cricket bats can you remember being wielded as an instrument of choice? Okay, I'll give you The Big Lebowski, but what else? Simon Pegg in Shaun of the Dead, but come on, that was Simon Pegg in Shaun of the Dead. Doesn't really count, does it?
"Cricket should be thankful that its bats remain where they should - as cultural icons of a purely sporting, non-violent and creative aspect. Except when in the hands of an in-form Virender Sehwag, of course."
But what of the people who actually bought the baseball bats? What were their reasons? We caught up with one Amazon customer, who, surprisingly or not, turned out to be a former cricketer.
"For one thing, the bat I bought was cheaper than a cricket bat," said Peter Such. "For another, the baseball bats come in aluminium, which means they aren't going to break easily. But there's a third reason, and perhaps the most important one of all: remember that scene in The Untouchables? You know, De Niro and the dinner table scene. Now imagine him, or Joe Pesci for that matter, waving a Woodworm, or Mattie Hayden's Mongoose, around his greased-back head instead of the Louisville Slugger. Enough said."
But what about Flea in The Big Lebowski? What about Simon Pegg in Shaun of the Dead?
"Flea? Isn't he the bassist for the Red Hot Chili Peppers?" said Mr Such, ending that argument. Mr Such chose not to comment on Simon Pegg in Shaun of the Dead.
But not everyone was against using a cricket bat. Actor Robert De Niro simultaneously grimaced, shrugged and nodded to himself before giving us his views.
"Cricket, eh?" he said. "That the game where they run up and down instead of in a soicle? Yeah, I seen them bats they use. Lots of soiface area on them things. I coulda maybe used one of them things on some heads back in the day, you know what I mean? Hey. All in one go, boom, fuhgeddaboudit. Beats me why you English don't make more use of them things. What the f***'s the matter wid you people?"
Curiously, most of those who made the purchases were found to have one common reason for their opting for a baseball bat over its cricketing counterpart. As one customer said, "God forbid it actually came down to it, but if we had to use a cricket bat to defend ourselves, we'd have to deal with the ghost of our grandfathers yelling over our heads that 'it's just not cricket!'
"Who wants that?"
R Rajkumar hopes that writing about cricket helps justify his watching it as much as he does to the people in his life who wonder where the remote control's disappeared to
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