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The Heavy Ball

The Absence Premier League, and Afridi's cunning plan

The ICL tries to make a valiant comeback, and Pakistan's talisman discovers the secret of eternal youth

Shahid Afridi has a chat with the umpires, Australia v Pakistan, 5th ODI, Perth, January 31, 2010

"What do you mean 'acting' like a teenager?"  •  Getty Images

With the threat of players from England, Australia and South Africa pulling out of the IPL due to security reasons, rumours of a possible boycott by the Deccan Chargers team, and the absence of cricketers from Pakistan, the IPL runs the risk of being mistaken for the Commonwealth Games. However, this has opened a window of opportunity for the almost-forgotten, now defunct ICL to make an unexpected comeback. If rumours are to be believed, the ICL is planning to stage a tournament called the Absence Premier League, which will be the world's first sporting event organised exclusively for players to boycott , miss due to injury, or ignore altogether.
"From the number of people scrambling to give the IPL a miss, it is clear to us that non-participation is the new participation," said former ICL boss Subhash Chandra. "There is a rapidly increasing base of players who seem keen on not playing the IPL, citing reasons like commitment to country, injury, security threats and general disinterest. We would like to corner this market - so we created the Absence Premier League. Now, instead of not participating in the IPL, we hope that we can attract players to not participate in the APL," he said.
Chandra also clarified that the APL was an extremely viable business model. "Since the concept itself revolves around teams not taking part, there is no need to incur the expenses of actually organising the tournament and broadcasting it. We will simply attract the best talent to give the APL a miss, and create an advertising campaign using their star power. We will use this momentum to sell advertising slots on TV. And since there are no matches to be televised, all the available time can be used to show ads. What a win!" he said, flashing a thumbs-up sign inspired by Roger Ebert and Country Club chairman Mr Y Rajeev Reddy.
"Except for that last bit about advertisements, which I must admit is sheer genius, the whole idea is complete rubbish. Just like the original ICL," said IPL commissioner Lalit Modi. "The IPL will remain the world's leading tournament, and players would much prefer missing the IPL to missing other unrecognised tournaments." Mr Modi also said that any players not participating in the APL would be strictly banned from not participating in the IPL or any other BCCI-recognised tournaments.
Meanwhile, Pakistan superstar Shahid Afridi has announced that he has come up with an innovative new way to prolong his career - by legally changing his age from 29 to 21 so that he can play on for another 10 years or so. "Your body can't take the strain at 30 the way it can when you're closer to 20, so this way I can play on for many more years," he explained to a gathering of incredulous reporters. "If people can legally change their names, why can't they change their age? If Yousuf Youhana can become Mohammad Yousuf, and Kennedy Otieno can become Kennedy Obuya, then surely changing 29 into 21 is a mere trifle by comparison?" he asked. "In any case, I've been claiming to be anywhere between 17 and 21 for the past 13 years, so it's only a question of making it official," he said. Afridi also expressed confidence that he could overcome any obstacles to his plan caused by things such as law or common sense. "After all, I'm a man who can smell with my teeth, what?" he winked, looking hungrily at a nearby action figure depicting Lord of the Rings character Boromir (or maybe it was Faramir; we're not sure).
In other news, in a spontaneous display of mass righteous indignation, thousands of Indian cricket fans on Twitter have begun a movement to use the power of social networking to rid Indian cricket of parochialism, political interference and corruption - by starting a hashtag called #cleanupindiancricket and using it to collate incoherent rants. The online revolution subsided after about eight minutes, when someone started a hashtag making fun of novelist Chetan Bhagat.

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