The Heavy Ball

The dead-rubber World Cup, pointless 50-run stands, and the Vettori of the Year

The ICC's latest dazzling innovation, the revival of an ancient Indian art, and the one award that fits all

Daniel Vettori sorts his luggage outside the airport, Auckland, October 27, 2009

Soon available in statuette form  •  Getty Images

In a shocking mix-up that's sure to have major implications on cricket, the ICC has totally misunderstood Ricky Ponting's views on dead-rubber ODIs and have introduced the world's first dead-rubber international world cup.
According to the new tournament rules, eight of the world's top cricketing nations will play each other in a league stage consisting entirely of meaningless dead-rubber matches. The four best teams will then play the two semi-finals and the final, which will also be dead rubbers. The tournament winner will then be decided by a draw of lots.
"This is the first in a long list of initiatives from the ICC to revitalise cricket, based on feedback from the game's many stakeholders, including players, boards, the media and fans," said an ICC spokesman, pulling a rabbit out of his hat for effect. Explaining some of the future plans the ICC has in store for the game, he said, "We all know that fans come to see fours and sixes, so in the future we'll be introducing a new format that will eliminate those pesky singles, twos and dot balls, and will consist solely of boundary hits."
He also hinted at the possibility of a future event that will consist purely of media coverage, with no actual cricket being played. "We'll see how those pampered punk players complain about too much cricket then, shall we?" he thought to himself, making a timely exit before anyone asked inconveniently pertinent questions.
The new tournament has generated mixed responses around the world.
"This idea is worse than the 51 which Sepp Blatter has every day," said an anguished Ponting, who is distraught at being wrongly credited for the innovation. "It's ridiculous. You say one thing and people hear something completely different. Now I know how Harbhajan Singh feels," he said, in an unexpected show of sympathy for Australia's best loved offspinner.
"Oh! Awesome! This is great news for South Africa!" said a delighted Graeme Smith. "We usually lose crucial matches, but since the dead-rubber World Cup will have no crucial matches whatsoever, we're sure to win this time," he pointed out, rather logically.
When your team is down four wickets for 25, you need batsmen who can put on a dull, pointless 50-run partnership, raise false hope, and then trigger a collapse by needlessly getting run out
In another exciting development, India, which recently fired Venkatesh Prasad and Robin Singh as bowling and fielding coach respectively, has given Singh back his job, albeit in a different role. Singh and former India team-mate Ajay Jadeja will be the new "futile 50-partnership in a losing cause" coaches for the Indian team.
"When your team is down four wickets for 25, chasing a 300-plus total, you need batsmen who can buckle down and put on a dull, pointless 50-run partnership, raise false hope, and then trigger a collapse by needlessly getting run out or holing out to long-on. Robin and I were past masters at this crucial skill, and we're extremely excited to have an opportunity to pass on our knowledge to youngsters," said Jadeja, with Singh nodding his approval.
"It's a skill that has pretty much disappeared from the Indian side, though Praveen Kumar and Harbhajan Singh showed some glimpses of promise in that game against Australia. Still, it was far too exciting to be a true classic in the Jadeja-Robin Singh tradition," said BCCI President Shashank Manohar. "By hiring the former greats as coaches, we hope to bring this aspect of the team back to where it once was," he added, causing a sharp rise in the blood-pressure levels of Indian cricket fans worldwide.
And finally, to save enormous amounts of time and money, New Zealand Cricket has decided to consolidate all their national cricketing awards for bowling, batting, fielding and coaching into a single award called the "Daniel Vettori of the Year".

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?)