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The Heavy Ball

Revolutionary scheduling, boxing tests, and a clerical error

The game's finest brains come up with innovative ways to save Test cricket, and India get their excuses strategy into top gear

Graeme Smith is a THINK WISE champion, September 2009

Graeme "Biff" Smith: has the advantage of a suitable nickname for when cricket is replaced by boxing  •  International Cricket Council

In a short period, which produced a classic Test match in Dunedin, and a stupendously dull one in Ahmedabad, the ICC's secret brainstorming session to generate ideas to save Test cricket took on special significance.
Rather predictably, many of the suggestions that emerged were rather clichéd and fairly useless. "We should play day-night Tests," said one official. "Tests should be played with coloured clothing and white balls," said another. "Ambassador is still the best car for Indian roads," said another, out of force of habit.
However, many interesting suggestions did emerge. The representative from Australia suggested replacing the traditional Boxing Day Test match with a day test boxing match, where players from the teams involved would compete in boxing bouts for five full days. This idea was strongly supported by Graeme Smith and Chris Gayle, but left Mohammad Ashraful looking rather nervous.
The BCCI representative responded to recent criticism of his board's scheduling, which resulted in Tests being played purely on weekdays, making it difficult for office-goers and students to watch the games.
"We realise the need to schedule Tests on weekends, but we are faced with many logistical difficulties. However, we are considering rescheduling the week itself, so that Saturday and Sunday will fall between Tuesday and Wednesday, so that matches can be played during the weekend, which would now be in the middle of the week. Convenience for all," he said, causing the brains of those present to tie themselves into an assortment of interesting knots and hitches.
There was also a suggestion to address the problem of largely empty stands for Test matches in India by significantly reducing the capacities of the grounds.
Sadly, a timid proposal for making better pitches was met with almost universal disdain, with the session chairperson brusquely dismissing the need for it, saying, "Making good pitches is important only for advertising agencies, not cricketers."
However, many observers feel that there is no need to panic, and that Test match cricket was in reasonable health. "Saving Test cricket is like bringing P Diddy back to life. There's simply no need for it - he's still quite clearly alive," remarked a wag.
As India battle Sri Lanka in Mumbai with the No. 1 Test ranking at stake, skipper MS Dhoni insisted that the top ranking was not on his team's mind. "We don't really think about things like No. 1 and No. 2, except during our bathroom breaks. Heh heh," he quipped.
India have gone into the Test without the services of star opening batsman Gautam Gambhir, who is away attending his sister's wedding.
"It's all part of our 'back to school' approach," explained coach Gary Kirsten "We're encouraging players to use time-tested excuses when they aren't available for games. The death of grandparents, weddings in the family, and the old favourite, stomach ache, have been accepted as excuses for absences through the ages, and we're looking to keep this tradition alive," he said. Inspired by this, Dhoni and Harbhajan Singh are planning to explain away their controversial absence form the Indian government's Padma Shri awards function by saying that their dogs ate their invitation cards.
In other news, due to a small clerical error caused by an unreliable "R" key on someone's laptop, Cricket Australia has mistakenly awarded former Indian cricketer and chairman of selectors Chandu Borde with a lifetime achievement award for his contribution to Australian cricket.

Anand Ramachandran is a writer and humourist based in Mumbai. He blogs at bosey.co.in
Any or all quotes and facts in this article may be wholly or partly fiction (but you knew that already, didn't you?)