Anand Ramachandran is a writer and humourist based in Mumbai. He blogs at bosey.co.in. All quotes and facts in this article are fiction (but you knew that already, didn't you?)
With the menace of match-fixing once again rearing its ugly head and spreading its tentacles across India, Pakistan and England, cricket authorities are faced with the stern challenge of ensuring that the sport is kept clean. This time, however, they have responded with an elegant and far-sighted solution that will ensure that the sport is rid of match-fixing once and for all - by simply legalising the entire thing.
"Several countries legalise things such as prostitution, gambling, and even marijuana, so that these activities are brought under government regulation, and become legitimate businesses that generate revenue for the authorities. So we've decided that the way forward is to legalise match-fixing and bring it under ICC rules, so that the sport can be free of this illegal and evil influence," said ICC chief executive Haroon Lorgat, ignoring the shadowy figure with a mobile phone lurking behind him.
To kick off the new initiative, the ICC will organise a world match-fixing championship, in which the finest match-fixing talent from around the globe will battle for supremacy. Teams will first fix matches in a group stage, which will be played in a league format, and then the four best teams (India, Pakistan, England and West Indies) will progress to the semi-finals. In the final India will bat first and score about 250, despite losing both openers within the first three overs. Pakistan, when chasing, will start well, but a clutch of run-outs in the middle order will cost them dearly. Misbah-ul-Haq will remain unbeaten on a fighting 47 as India win by 12 runs. India will then become the first ICC match-fixing world champions, ensuring that the tournament is insanely profitable. The ICC world match-fixing championships will also be the first international sporting tournament where the final result is already known in advance, other than Wimbledon between 2003 and 2007.
The entire tournament will be closely monitored by the ICC's newly formed anti-anti-corruption-unit, to ensure that all the match-fixing activities are fair and above suspicion. "Cheats will be dealt with severely. The match-fixing World Cup is all about honesty and fair-play, and we must do all we can to protect the integrity and image of this great sport," said an out-going functionary, a man whose name is eerily close to that of a popular contraceptive device.
The ICC is also hoping that integrating match-fixing as an integral part of cricket will help popularise the sport in associate countries, since they now need not always lose interest after getting their butts kicked by Australia.
"We are hoping that match-fixing really takes off and sits proudly beside Tests, ODIs and Twenty20 as a popular and viable format of cricket," said Mr Lorgat.
In other news, former cricketer and uncrowned grandfather of mixed metaphors Navjot Singh Sidhu has finally revealed the true reason for his tendency to get run out, which once sparked a row between him and then skipper Mohammad Azharuddin.
"You have to realise that most of the time I was batting with K Srikkanth and Ravi Shastri. So the calling was a total disaster," said Sidhu. "When the simple 'yes' and 'no' are replaced with 'This is what the doctor ordered, Sherry, let's add to the total', or 'No, don't run, my dear friend, I think that's totally suicidal. I think we better not run, my dear friend. Rukh jao, Sherry bhai', it doesn't quite make for quick running. Run-outs are bound to happen."
Sidhu also sportingly refused to blame it all on his former batting partners. "I was equally bad. I once called for a brace by telling Srikkanth, 'It's a happy day for the gander and the goose, when good running converts ones into twos.' Needless to say, Cheeka was duly run out. We never realised that the precious seconds we were wasting on calling could actually be spent gaining ground between the wickets," he said, explaining a great deal more than he intended.