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The Heavy Ball

I'm a cricketer, get me out of here

The next world champions will be decided by a TV reality show

Andrew Strauss is frustrated, Australia v England, 1st semi-final, ICC Champions Trophy, Centurion, October 2, 2009

Andrew Strauss doesn't take the news that he has been voted out in the first round very well  •  AFP

With cricket facing a number of challenges, such as low stadium attendances, falling television ratings, and England, the ICC has come up with a novel way of coping with the first two. From next year, the sport's august body has decided to dispense with cricket matches altogether, and decide the world's champion team by means of a TV reality show.
"We've listened carefully to the complaints from fans. They feel Test cricket is boring, ODIs are meaningless, and Twenty20 is just pyjama cricket. So we've realised that people actually don't like cricket at all," said ICC chairman David Morgan, explaining the decision. "We're hoping that the decision to bypass any actual cricket altogether and go with the internationally proven 'reality show' format will help increase viewership and revive our coffers… er, the game," he added.
The show will feature the world's leading cricketers competing for supremacy by indulging in thrilling activities such as sitting around in a locked house, burning toast, demonstrating their fear of lizards, competing for the affections of a B-list celebrity, and saying mean things about each other. The winner will be decided by audience voting - which virtually ensures that, unlike at actual cricket tournaments, India will win every time.
There will also be a panel of judges whose main functions will be to yell at the cricketers, wear strange clothes, and remind the audience that they actually once existed. Initial rumours have seen the emergence of names such as Stuart Gillespie, Brendon Kuruppu, Rajinder Singh Ghai, Wasim Haider, Ian Austin, Rod McCurdy and Kailash Gattani as frontrunners. "We're not confirming or denying anything. I can only say that our panel of judges will be a collection of top class no-names, has-beens and former B-listers in the finest reality-show traditions," said a spokesman for the production company that has the contract.
While the idea may have found favour with the powers-that-be, many players, with notable exceptions being Darren Gough and S Sreesanth, seemed unsure about their reality-show prowess.
"I'm not sure, mate. We're a pretty good cricket side, but with all this reality-show business, I don't think we'd stand a ghost of a chance", said Australian captain Ricky Ponting, sending a terrified Shane Watson scurrying for cover.
"I think it's a good idea. It's an opportunity for us to conquer our inner demons and overcome the spectre of the pay dispute," said West Indies skipper Floyd Reifer, ensuring that Watson would not reappear for the day.
Veteran Indian spinner Harbhajan Singh was delighted at the news. "Awesome! This gives us a way to meet two of our commitments - cricket and reality-TV appearances - in one go. It would be even better if the reality show was about us shooting TV commercials. That way we'd be able to cover three major activities at the same time, leaving us with more free time to… er… ah…" he trailed off, unable to think of anything else Indian cricketers can admit to doing publicly.
"A reality show isn't all that different from a cricket match. It's got lots of the same elements - incessant infighting among competitors, mean-spirited and sadistic authorities, gratuitous slo-mo shots, shameless commercial exploitation, and results that look a bit suspicious. So I don't see a huge problem for players and fans to make the jump," said a confident-sounding ICC CEO, Haroon Lorgat, summing up the situation rather nicely.

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?)