This article is a work of fiction
Indian umpires to be given crash course in English
The BCCI is pairing up with the British Council to help boost the ability of Indian umpires to comprehend English, according to a report. In an attempt to improve their eligibility at the highest level, umpires will be given a ten-day crash course in a number of important language skills. Among these:
- Recognising the many subtle differences in tone, pitch, and pronunciation that go into the word **** as used in different parts of the world.
- Understanding what exactly a **** is in the first place.
- How to say **** in the most effective manner yourself, if and when the fielding team protests your decision not to give an lbw after they've run out of referrals.
- Lessons in spelling and asterisk-counting, to better enable an umpire to recognise and report a four-letter word (****) as such.
- Trying to understand anything someone hailing from Yorkshire is saying (incidentally, the British Council offers this service to many native English speakers as well).
Bairstow relishing second chance
It has been a long time coming for Jonny Bairstow, but the Yorkshire batsman is relishing being given a second chance at Ashes failure.
"As a professional cricketer, it just doesn't get any bigger than failing at the highest level," said a chuffed Bairstow, who forced his way back into national reckoning by dint of a string of high scores for his county - which is by no means guaranteed to translate into success at the international level.
"I still remember my first Ashes failure like it was yesterday," said the batsman with a nostalgic smile. "But then who doesn't? To have your limitations cruelly exposed while playing for your country is always an unforgettable experience, but any English cricketer will tell you that it's against Australia that you really want that to happen," he added.
At press time, Bairstow was seen hard at work practising being unsuccessful at fending away bouncers and then walking back to the pavilion with shoulders hunched and helmet still firmly seated atop the head, all the better to hide his face and drown out the sounds of jeers coming from the yellow-shirted section of the crowd.
Commentators respond to allegations that they are muzzled by the BCCI
Ravi Shastri: The allegations are baseless. Look, I pride myself on my ability to be real, to call things as I see them. For example, when I see a four smashed to the boundary, I liken it to a tracer bullet. And when I see a tracer bullet at a shooting range, I just don't know what to say because I've reached the limit of my ability to analogise. But that's okay, because I'm still such a salt-of-the-earth, straight-shooting kind of a guy. A man's man, if you will. The kind you can depend on for a firm handshake and an unwavering eye. The kind not afraid to call a spade a spade. It's not my fault there just aren't too many spades to be seen on a cricket field, you know? I mean, has anyone actually seen one? I don't even know what to look for here.
Laxman Sivaramakrishnan: I strongly deny these slanderous accusations. I have no hesitation in voicing my deep concerns. Why, just the other day I was complaining quite noisily about how Chennai Super Kings have been suspended unfairly from the IPL. I mean, my life has lost all meaning now without the tone of my voice being used as an accurate measure of how well or not the team is doing at any given moment in the game. As I said, I'm really upset about these events and have made my displeasure clear in no uncertain terms to my wife in the privacy of our home.
Harsha Bhogle: Hello, I happen to be a journalist and respected writer, in case you didn't get the memo. I like to think that I put a price on my integrity. Okay, so that didn't come out right…
List of things commentators can't talk about to be expanded
Meanwhile, a leaked memo sent by the Indian board to its commentators appears to further limit what can and can't be said on air:
You already know well enough not to talk about captaincy issues in the Indian team. From now on, you lot are not to talk about who the captain even is, period. Especially if he's looking particularly clueless out there. Remember, his bad decisions make us look bad, which leads to you being out of a job, LOL. So it's in everybody's best interests if people aren't able to trace him back to us.
That said, don't ever forget to mention that Virat Kohli is the future of Indian cricket, and keep in mind that he is slated to remain so for the next ten years or more, until he retires.
From this point on, if a match is interrupted by bad weather, it is your job to pretend that the sun is still shining, that play is still, in fact, in session, and that we didn't schedule a match in the rainy season.
The only time weather should be acknowledged to have interfered with a match is if India are about to lose to Bangladesh or something. Or Australia. Or anybody.
When the camera pans to some BCCI bigwig or sponsor in the crowd, it isn't enough that you give him his full title and gush over the stadium being graced by his presence. You have to compliment him on his looks, too. That's right, feel free to describe in glowing terms his bounteously healthy constitution and his wheatish complexion. People love that kind of stuff.
A rule of thumb: if ever in doubt whether or not to make a comment about something, perform a series of vocalised pauses, such as "um", "hmm", or that old favourite, "uhh". No one will be able to tell the difference from your regular commentary.
Harmer at peace with name
Simon Harmer says that at long last he has found some measure of peace with himself for ending up a slow left-arm spinner instead of a fast bowler.
"It's not easy being a spinner with what just possibly might have been the coolest ever name for a fast bowler to have," said a relaxed Harmer, who admitted that there had been a point in his career when he used to wake up hating the fact that he wasn't walking onto the field ready to throw thunderbolts at some batsman's head.
"But I've since learned to look at the positives," he said. "Things could be a hell of a lot worse. I could have been burdened with the moniker of a great explorer like Captain Cook, and been castigated for being anything but adventurous in my captaincy. And don't even get me started on poor Vernon Philander. So yeah, life's not all bad."
Harmer said that he still allows himself the luxury of staring hard at a batsman when he has beaten him in flight. "Because that's just as Harmful a thing to inflict upon a batsman's psyche as a bouncer, right?"

All quotes and "facts" in this piece are made up, but you knew that, didn't you?
R Rajkumar tweets @roundarmraj