The Heavy Ball

The great bench-warming crisis

Plus: the hottest innovation in cricket broadcasting, and a heinous scandal

Carlos Tevez of Manchester City celebrates, September 28, 2009

Carlos Tevez puts his hand up for the Delhi bench-warming job  •  Richard Heathcote  /  Getty Images

With the ICC Champions Trophy finally drawing to a close and action shifting to the Champions League in India, there has been no surfeit of happenings in the cricket world - ranging from the heartbreaking to the bizarre to the sinister.
The Delhi Daredevils have admitted that they're sorely missing the services of England's Paul Collingwood, who was their leading bench warmer during the IPL. "It's hard enough to find replacements for quality players like Daniel Vettori and AB de Villiers, but it's virtually impossible to find quality bench-warmers these days. Colly did a fantastic job for us during the IPL, and it's hard managing without him," said a glum-sounding Daredevils skipper Gautam Gambhir.
Gambhir was quick to praise Collingwood's commitment, saying, "He was willing to bench-warm through the injury, but the team management didn't want to risk aggravating his buttock strain - this is the muscle most used in bench warming, and we didn't want to jeopardise his future career performing this vital function for Daredevils, and indeed for England."
Gambhir also revealed that the team was looking for possible replacements from among leading international sportsmen who have the requisite experience in sitting out matches, such as Carlos Tevez. When someone pointed out that Tevez isn't a cricketer, an annoyed Gambhir responded with "So what? Bench warming is bench warming, whatever the sport. Who would you rather have us pick? Syed Fazaluddin?"
It's also been an exciting week for cricket broadcasting, with Ravi Shastri inventing a whole new concept, which he's calling the "intraview".
"As opposed to an interview, where I ask questions and the player responds with his answers, the "intraview" is a unique concept, where I ask the player questions and answer them myself before he's had the chance to say a word. Just what the doctor ordered," said a beaming Shastri. "Here, let me give you a demonstration," he said, quickly buttonholing the Cape Cobras captain, Andy Puttick, who was passing by.
Ravi Shastri : "So tell me Andy, how confident are you feeling after two straight wins in the competition?"
Andy Puttick: "Well, Ravi, we're…"
RS: "You must be feeling very positive, considering the form shown by your batsmen, especially JP Duminy and yourself. The bowling and fielding are also looking good, so I'm sure you're looking forward to a strong performance in the rest of the tournament."
AP: "Yeah, I think…"
RS: "So how do you feel playing in front of Indian crowds? What's the experience like?"
AP: "Oh, it's actually…"
RS: "I'm sure the atmosphere has been absolutely electric. You guys don't play in front of such large, noisy crowds back home, so I guess it must be pretty special playing in front of Indian crowds. Okay, who's your favourite batsman in the world?"
AP: "That's a…"
RS: "Sachin Tendulkar. Okay, Andy, thanks for joining us. I'll let you get back to the dressing room now."
AP: "Okay. Tha…"
RS "Thanks, Ravi. Cheers, mate."
Shortly thereafter, Shastri left to join his colleagues K Srikkanth, Atul Wassan and Ramiz Raja, to continue development on their next project, the multiview, in which the aforementioned panelists invite a hapless cricketer to their show and then all talk simultaneously for 20 minutes.
And finally, the cricket world is apparently on the verge of being rocked by what could be its most sinister scandal yet - the match-fixing-fixing affair. "While everyone agrees that match-fixing is bad enough a scourge, there are rumoured to be scoundrels who have taken it a step further and begun fixing match-fixing itself. But we will stamp out this menace - we are hell-bent on fixing match-fixing-fixing once and for all," said a spokesman for the ICC's anti-corruption unit, before adding, "The sixth sick sheikh's sixth sheep's sick," just to carry forward the tongue-twisting momentum he had gathered during his previous sentence. Moments later he was clubbed on the head by a member of the shadowy anti-anti-corruption unit unit, bringing the interview to an abrupt end before we could learn more. Ah, well.

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?)