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The department of tiny prizes

What's going on with the unbecomingly modest Man of the Match awards?

Shahid Afridi with his Man of the Match award, Pakistan v South Africa, ICC World Twenty20, 1st semi-final, Trent Bridge, June 18, 2009
Most certainly not a Hughesie, then © Getty Images

Awards. Everyone likes awards. For instance, I was delighted this week to learn that I have been nominated for Most Trivial Internet Feature By A Complete Nobody. Apparently I'm up against a woman from Nuttyville, Utah, whose blog, Obama's Pyjamas, showcases her designs for Presidential nightwear, and a retired Mongolian civil servant who posts a daily count of the number of yak he has seen going past his yurt. According to bookmakers, I'm the outsider of the three, but I'm hopeful.

Still, I have to say that I am appalled by the quality of award-ware doled out to those fine sportsmen who through their athletic endeavour and occasional practice earn the right to call themselves the Man Of The Match.

"Who's the MOMmy?" cries Tillakaratne Dilshan, as he returns to the pavilion.

"You are!" chorus his team-mates, "Again."

"So where's my prize?" asks the tousle-haired one, forlornly.

It's a good question, Tillakaratne. Where are all the prizes? Surely, David Morgan, you are not telling me that the little white box slipped furtively into the hands of the victorious gladiator as he approaches Nasser Hussain's microphone is a prize? How much bling can you cram into a box that size? At the IPL they got shiny motorbikes. In the World Series, the MVP gets a small Pacific island for his trouble, and Christiano Ronaldo doesn't get out of bed if there isn't a fresh Ferrari on his porch every morning. You need to show these people some love, David, they are our futures.

So to show the way, I have commissioned my own awards, with financial backing from the Bank of Antigua, to honour the heroes of this and future ICC World Twenty20 competitions. Ten metres high and cast in solid bronze, they are so heavy that they have to be mounted on wheeled platforms, and it takes an entire sub committee of ICC officials to move one. Each magnificent diamond-encrusted trophy depicts an enormous batsman standing with his legs wide apart and his eyes closed, having a heave. They have to be seen to be believed.

And so to the prize-giving. When Shahid Afridi paused in the heat of a semi-final battle to blow Jacques Kallis a kiss, billions of television viewers wept openly at the beauty of the moment. It represented everything that is pure and noble in the modern game. In fact, if only Don Bradman had been secure enough in his sexuality to do the same to Douglas Jardine, that whole Bodyline thing might never have happened. So, the inaugural Hughesie goes to Mr Shahid Afridi; for keeping the love flowing even during the Powerplay.

Andrew Hughes is a writer currently based in England

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