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The Long Handle

An infiltrator in the West Indies proletariat

The on-strike players find the enemy is within

Andrew Hughes
Andrew Hughes
Dwayne Bravo arrives at the toss with his team-mates, India v West Indies, 4th ODI, Dharamsala, October 17, 2014

"Guys, a free spirit is not a henchman of capitalism!"  •  BCCI

In a dingy, smoke-filled room somewhere in Trinidad, the inaugural conference of the Amalgamated Union of Batsmen and Bowlers is about to get underway.
Dwayne: Comrades, thank you all for coming, particularly Christopher, who has taken time off from tweeting to show his solidarity. Comrades, we must stand united, in order to overthrow the capitalist WICB and its lackeys at the WIPA, who, by not giving us quite as much money as we would like, have shown their true face, the face of tyranny…
Jerome: Point of order, comrade.
Dwayne: Yes, comrade, what is it?
Jerome: It's our name.
Dwayne: What about it?
Jerome: Why is it the Amalgamated Union of Batsmen and Bowlers? Why not the Amalgamated Union of Bowlers and Batsmen?
Dwayne: A good point, comrade. We recognise the valid contribution of all those workers in the bowling industry, toiling through long spells, sometimes going weeks without a wicket, whose sacrifices in the death overs we should never forget. All those in favour of changing our name from the AUBB to the AUBB please raise your hands….
Marlon: Hang on a minute. I don't see why we should change our name just to please our pie-flinging comrades.
Jerome: I resent that, comrade.
Dwayne: Comrade Samuels, the chair asks you to withdraw your remark.
Marlon: Apologies, comrade, I didn't mean to say pies.
Dwayne: The chair is grateful, Comrade Samuels.
Marlon: After all, a pie might do some damage.
Jerome: Point of order! If Comrade Samuels does not apologise for his persistent chauvinistic anti-bowler remarks, we at the Fast Bowlers and General Spinners Union will have no choice but to withdraw our solidarity.
Sulieman: I object! Comrade Thomas does not represent the views of the downtrodden Caribbean spinner. Comrades Narine, Shillingford, Badree and I have decided, after a show of hands, to form our own collective to negotiate for better working conditions.
Kieron: What you going to call it: The Chuckers and Throwers Union?
Sunil: I resent that!
Denesh: How did you manage a show of hands? You can't keep your arms straight!
Dwayne: Comrades, comrades, please! I haven't seen this much fraternal disloyalty since the last IPL auction. We must stand together…..
Marlon: Point of order, Chairman. Is that a new earring?
Dwayne: Er, what, this old thing? No, comrade, I've had it for ages.
Lendl: Then why is the price label still hanging from it?
Denesh: I can't believe that while we are struggling to make ends meet, getting by on our meagre non-IPL salaries, you have been out buying new earrings!
Dwayne: It isn't how it looks, comrades! They were on offer at Mr Srinivasan's Cut Price Bling Emporium! Twenty-five per cent off!
Denesh: Comrades, we have been infiltrated by a bourgeois lackey of the propertied classes. I move a vote of no confidence in Comrade Bravo, who has betrayed his comrades for the price of a diamond earring! All those in favour, say IPL.
All: IPL!
Denesh: Motion carried. Comrade Bravo, you are no longer a member of the West Indies cricket proletariat. Please hand over your Union badge and placards. Now Comrade Simmons will lead us in a few inspirational bars from "The Red Flag" (Caribbean Remix)
Lendl: (In a light, pleasing baritone)
Then raise the scarlet standard high
Within its shade we'll go through the motions but we won't really try
Though players whinge and cricket writers sneer
We'll keep the red flag flying here
At least until our bonus payments clear.

Andrew Hughes is a writer currently based in England. @hughandrews73