Cricket news from ESPN

Monday, 23 September 2013

Cricket needs a Twix fix.

Regardless of your opinion of the Champions League T20, it could at least have been expected to partly fill the void between now and Pakistan-South Africa, Sachin's 200th Test and the hasty renewal of the Ashes battle. It's a Twix of a tournament to perk you up and get your endorphins briefly chipper, even if it might not leave you fully sated. But, at present, despite some McCullum thuggery and typical CSK chasery, the sun is failing to shine on the event, and, even when it was predictably expected not to in evening matches, floodlight failures have lent a murky and slightly farcical edge to proceedings. As players sit around on their soggy behinds in India, various off field cricketing hemorrhoids have instead recently burst, leaving the whole sport splattered in something unpleasant.

Sreesanth and his towel have been banned for life. Asad Rauf has now also been charged for his alleged part in the IPL spot-fixing scandal. He denies it with typical potency, but the Lothario of Lahore will appear in court in Mumbai on 21 November, incidentally the home town of the cause of his last bit of negative publicity. It's worth recalling that a few months ago, that object of his affections, model Leena Kapoor, alleged that he'd been delivered bags of cash to his hotel room. Other Rauf rumours involve "a hamper brimming with pay-offs - including gold ornaments, watches and other electronic appliances", which may or may not be diamond encrusted light meters, though no one can confirm this. Almost unfathomablyThisara Perera has now also been accused of involvement. In a separate spot-fixing incident that is, not in providing Asad's alleged baskets of bullion, and Sri Lanka Cricket have put out a denial stating they have "full confidence in their players". It will be as monstrous as one of the brilliant roboclubber's sixes if this confidence is proven to be misplaced. 

In Australia, the release of Mike Hussey's autobiography has led to the prising open of old wounds concerning a supposed row between himself and Michael Clarke on the night of his retirement from international cricket. Clarke wanted to go to a party on a yacht. Hussey wanted to stay with his family. It seems neither of them really cared much about their differing evening plans, but it caused ructions in the team, with players taking sides between the ocean and dry land. Shane Watson was in the land lubbers camp, naturally, possibly taunting Pup for wearing overly flashy Henri Lloyd sailing gear, though, again, this is not confirmed. Hussey's book is entitled "Underneath the Southern Cross", a patriotic and handy reference to Australia's team song which Clarke's failure to sing once earned him a throat grab from Simon "Kato" Katich. This is a scene which older readers may note could have been scripted for Inspector Clouseau ("Sing the bloody song, Pup." "Not now, Kato..."), but that and the yacht incident at least make homeworkgate seem less trivial. 

Ex-Zimbabwe international Guy Whittall's close shave with a crocodile has provided some light relief from the waves of scandal, but as he sat perched on his bed within inches of the jaws of a voracious monster, his calves inadvertently became a metaphor for cricket's most current high-profile power spat: The poor African guy at the mercy of a predatory beast who may or may not choose to take a chunk of your leg or, indeed, TV revenue stream. Harsha Bhogle has, to no great shock, defended the BCCI crocodile. In response, Gideon Haigh has pulled out his rope and bitch slapped it round Harsha and the BCCI's jaws in defence of Cricket South Africa. Everyone else has just sat around gawping at the extraordinary nature of the situation. It's still not clear whether India will be going on safari or not. 

This hasn't been the most edifying couple of weeks for the sport by any stretch of even the most overstretched imagination. Perhaps the Twix tournament will kick into gear and allow cricket to briefly stick two fingers up at its troublesome hemorrhoids. Let there be light. 

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