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The Briefing

Shakib Al Hasan really, really wants to play Test cricket

But what can he do when the damn IPL keeps getting in the way?

"I might be playing in the IPL, but in my heart, I'll be dreaming of Test cricket all day long"  •  Saeed Khan/AFP/Getty Images

"I might be playing in the IPL, but in my heart, I'll be dreaming of Test cricket all day long"  •  Saeed Khan/AFP/Getty Images

Shaz gets vaxxed
In outstanding news for humanity, Ravi Shastri revealed he has had his first vaccination against Covid-19. Which means Covid antibodies developed in Shastri's body now exist in the world.
It's over for this disease.
Yeah, okay we get it
Look, is anyone else sick of hearing about how well New Zealand is doing in this pandemic? They are having huge barbeques, street parades, music concerts. Their stadiums are packed with spectators. Their parliament has been passing compassionate legislation by huge majorities.
On the sporting front, they already had the most impressive team in all of elite sport for the last 40 years in the All Blacks, which anyway is ridiculous for a nation of five million. Now, their cricket team is among the top two Test sides in the world and they will play in the World Test Championship final. To rub all of this in, they have now monstered Bangladesh in limited-overs series, which have seen the international arrival of Devon Conway, who has rocked our replay reels with his strokeplay. And yet, although this guy also averages 47 in first-class cricket, New Zealand may not even need him in the Test squad, because they have a team full of performing incumbents. This is just obnoxious at this point. It's not a good time for the rest of us, New Zealand. Read the bloody room.
Test cricket worship corner
Folks, we all know that modern cricketers all love Tests and would play it 365 days a year, foregoing all else, if their bodies allowed. They tell us this again and again. Having only played one Test since 2019, thanks to a corruption-related ban, Shakib Al Hasan probably wants to play the format more than almost anyone else, and must have been overjoyed at the news that his team has two Tests scheduled in Apr… oh wait, no, he wants to miss the Sri Lanka Tests to play the IPL. Wow, how surprising.
Women's cricket commitment corner
Another topic that arguably draws even more empty rhetoric is women's cricket, with boards all around the world falling over themselves to express their desire to develop it. Now that we're a full year into the pandemic, it might be worth checking on how much cricket women have played recently. Since March 15, 2020, there have been only 38 women's internationals played, compared to 115 men's matches. This disparity is bad enough but then consider that 30 of those men's games were Tests, while all the women's matches were limited-overs games.
Some teams have had an abysmally bare schedule. While Sri Lanka Cricket has hosted a Lanka Premier League, a Test tour, and has a relatively busy schedule lined up for the men over the next three months, the Sri Lanka women's team have not played a single match for the past 12 months and have nothing lined up in April either.
The legal tussle
Worrying allegations over discrimination have emerged in South Africa, where former England captain Karen Smithies is suing CSA for supposedly overlooking her for the job of manager of the women's national team, allegedly in part because if she were appointed, that would make her a gay woman in charge of a women's team. Which, if you follow this line of reasoning, is terrible news for all the heterosexual men working in the backrooms of women's teams around the world, who now have to be castrated if they want to keep their jobs.
Next month on the Briefing:
- CSA rolls out new recruitment policy. "If you're not fully asexual, we don't even want to hear from you. Who knows if you will send in a seductive CV?"
- New Zealand set some major, unbeatable record in the last T20I of the Bangladesh series, probably, the jerks.

Andrew Fidel Fernando is ESPNcricinfo's Sri Lanka correspondent. @afidelf