Dissatisfied with Yorkshire captain Andrew Gale's two-match ban, the ECB lodged a formal complaint with its own Cricket Discipline Committee and instructed him to stay out of his own side's County Championship celebrations for good measure. This is the disciplinary panel hearing that followed.
A bland, featureless conference room. Gale sits with his lawyer on one side of a table. On the opposite side sit three ECB employees: the chairman of the Cricket Discipline Committee, a lawyer, and a spokesman. Kneeling down behind a desk a short distance away is ECB chairman, Giles Clarke. Gale cannot see him.
Chairman: Before we start, can I get you anything? Tea, coffee, water?
Gale: A glass of water, please.
The chairman's phone emits the sound of a gong. He picks it up and reads something before standing and walking over to the desk that conceals Giles Clarke. He stands there for a moment, muttering occasionally. After two or three minutes, he returns to his seat. He then leans towards the ECB spokesman and whispers something into his ear.
Spokesman: The ECB feels it would be inappropriate for Mr Gale to consume water while banned from cricket.
Spokesman: Furthermore, Mr Gale was spotted arriving at ECB Towers in a taxi. The ECB feel it is inappropriate for Mr Gale to travel in this manner while serving his suspension and will be taking further action against him once the Cricket Discipline Committee has met to discuss the offence.
Gale looks baffled and exchanges a look with his equally baffled lawyer.
Chairman: So, Mr Gale, you are accused of calling Lancashire's Ashwell Prince "a Kolpak" - a poisonous slight, implying that he is an overseas cricketer playing as a non-overseas cricketer. Do you have any defence whatsoever?
Gale's lawyer: This on-field exchange has been grossly misunderstood. The truth is that my client was merely struck by the physical resemblance of Mr Prince to Maros Kolpak, the Slovak handball goalkeeper who lent his name to the Kolpak ruling.
Chairman: (Disbelievingly) Really?
Clarke: (Hissing the words under his breath, but very audibly) That's rubbish! Liar!
Gale: What was that?
Chairman: What was what?
Gale: That noise. Did someone just call me a liar?
Chairman: It was nothing.
Gale: Who's behind that desk?
Gale leans sideways on his chair, cranes his neck and catches sight of Clarke's head peeping out. Clarke spots the danger and swiftly retracts so that he again cannot be seen.
Gale: Is that Giles Clarke over there behind that desk?
Chairman: No. Absolutely not.
Gale looks suspicious but returns to an upright position in his seat.
Chairman: Is that your defence then, Mr Gale, that you were suddenly struck by Ashwell Prince's close resemblance to world famous handball goalkeeper Maros Kolpak?
Gale: It is.
The chairman's phone again makes the gong noise. Again he reads it and again he walks over to Clarke's hiding place. A short exchange takes place and the chairman returns to his seat.
Chairman: Unacceptable! Having thought it through, I - and I alone - have deemed your explanation unacceptable. You will face further disciplinary action. The exact nature of that will be determined at a future meeting of the ECB Cricket Discipline Committee and announced in its next bulletin. The ECBCDCB goes out quarterly, so you will receive word in December. In the meantime, the ECB feels it would be inappropriate for Mr Gale to take part in any form of activity.
Gale's lawyer: Any form of cricket activity?
Chairman: Any form of activity.
Again Gale and his lawyer exchange a look. They stop when they hear Clarke cackle slightly.
Chairman: However, in light of the negative press received by the ECB regarding our feeling that it would have been inappropriate for Mr Gale to lift the County Championship trophy, we would like to make a generous offer.
Gale's lawyer: Go on…
Chairman: Mr Gale will be permitted to lift the trophy for an ECB-approved photo that will then be sent out to media outlets proving the organisation is not without heart.
Gale: So I get to lift the trophy?
Chairman: To a degree. Being as Mr Gale was banned for two of his side's 16 championship fixtures, he will only be permitted to lift at most seven-eighths of the trophy.
Gale: That's insane. How do I lift seven-eighths of a trophy?
Chairman: We will take the lid off.
Gale: It doesn't have a lid. Do you not even know what it looks like?
The chairman and the ECB lawyer whisper to each other for a moment. The chairman then whispers to the spokesman.
Spokesman: The ECB would like to announce that they are to create a lid for the County Championship trophy.
Chairman: And Mr Gale will only be allowed to lift the trophy in a lidless state and only for this one photo shoot.
The chairman's phone bongs. He walks over to speak to Clarke for a moment and then returns.
Chairman: It occurs to me - and only me - that the lid is unlikely to constitute an eighth of the trophy as a whole. However, the ruling is that Mr Gale be allowed to lift no more than seven-eighths of the trophy. He would therefore be allowed to lift far less.
Gale: I honestly don't know where you're going with this.
Chairman: Mr Gale will be attending an ECB photo shoot, the date of which is yet to be confirmed. At this photo shoot, he will lift the lid - and only the lid - of the County Championship trophy. This photo will then be sent out to all media outlets to highlight the ECB's magnanimity.
Gale and his lawyer walk out of the room without a word. Behind them, Giles Clarke cackles maniacally.
Alex Bowden blogs at King Cricket