If the Ashes was football …

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If, like me, you are getting tired of the soap opera that is English football, you’ll be cherishing the Ashes as perhaps the greatest event on the biannual sporting calendar. With every manager sacked, dummy spat, and star player poached by a bigger club, football becomes more and more predictable and intolerable. Thank heavens cricket hasn’t gone the same way.

But just imagine, for a second, that it had. What would the media coverage of the Ashes be like? As excitement builds in Perth, the spotlight would inevitably be drawn to a number of inane subplots that would disguise how boring the sport had actually become. These scandals might even be as baseless and irrelevant as the following fictitious, but all too familiar, storylines …

The Gossip Column by Jimmy ‘Gazza’ Morgan

England coach, Andy Flower, today refused to confirm rumours that Chris Tremlett was his preferred pick to bolster the England attack. He claimed his comments earlier in the week had been misinterpreted – or should that be lost in translation? Although Flower has been working with England since 2007, he still hasn’t mastered the English language. Therefore, nobody with half a brain – let alone the England players – can understand a word he says.

Tremlett’s inclusion is being debated because England need a new fast bowler to replace Stuart Broad, who is suspended following a controversial incident in Adelaide. Broad received a red card after a confrontation with Aussie wind-up merchant, Shane Watson, who fell to the floor clutching his face after a seemingly innocuous confrontation.

Even though umpire Tony Hill only saw the clash from the corner of his eye, he showed no hesitation in dismissing Broad as the home crowd were chanting ‘Off! Off! Off!’ at the time. Even though TV replays showed that Broad hadn’t touched Watson, and the crowd’s chants were actually directed at the inept Xavier Doherty, the decision stood and England were reduced to three bowlers.

As if to add insult to injury, Broad was not allowed to appeal. Even though the video evidence cleared him, the ICC has banned the use of all technology, claiming that cricket at the highest level must be bound by the same restrictions as cricket at junior and village level.

ICC chief executive, Haroon Lorgat was quoted as saying: ‘if the Lamb and Dag pub team in Walla Walla can’t afford ten television cameras and Hawkeye at their home games, then why should the aristocrats in the national side get the same privilege? It’s only their livelihoods at stake’.

Giles Clarke, however, might have a different view. Clarke was forced to resign as ECB chairman earlier this year after suggesting that poor umpiring decisions could be the result of a conspiracy. A newspaper sting revealed that Clarke thought Australia might be bribing officials in return for votes at the upcoming bid for the 2019 Cricket World Cup. Although only a misguided fool would suggest that the ICC dislikes the use of technology because it makes it harder to bribe umpires, a significant number of drunken hooligans continue to advocate such a fanciful (and clearly false) theory.

Controversy has also dogged both the English and Australian squads. The English media is currently in a tiz over an alleged relationship between a senior player and the mother of one of his teammate’s children. The squad has apparently become polarised over the issue, with the players from southern counties and those from Yorkshire and Lancashire forming rival cliques.

Meanwhile, the players from Old Trafford continue to tap up England’s reserve wicketkeeper for a move up north. Thus far, however, attempts to lure Stevie D away from his underachieving club side have failed.

The Australian squad aren’t happy campers either. Their bowlers are still furious at the decision to use a new type of cricket ball for the Ashes. The new Kookaburra is lightweight compared to regular balls and swings unnervingly throughout the day. Mitchell Johnson in particular has struggled to adapt – and his control has gone down the toilet. Why the authorities decided to use such a ridiculous ball for a flagship event is a mystery to everyone except ICC and Kookaburra executives.

Some of the Aussies have also been distracted by off field matters. Realising that his playing career is coming to an end, one of the Canary Yellow’s middle-order batmen has launched a new range of perfumes and aftershaves. The initial product, ‘Odeur de Hussey’, is expected to be a best seller in the Kings Cross district of Sydney.

Tim Nielsen is not best pleased however. The Australian head coach reckons that Hussey’s business interests are an unwelcome distraction. A dressing room source revealed that the two allegedly had a blazing row in which a cricket boot struck Hussey’s face. However, the Full Toss can reveal that these initial reports were inaccurate. Nielsen was not involved. The argument actually involved Doug Bollinger. The object that hit Hussey was therefore likely to be a pie, not a boot.

Another cricketer who really needs money is poor Nathan Hauritz. The former Aussie off spinner has been forced to auction off his cricketing equipment and memorabilia to pay the bills. Unfortunately however, his loser’s medal from the 2009 Ashes fetched fewer dollars than he has taken wickets. Consequently, Hauritz plans to get back into the Australia team by running onto the WACA outfield naked during the Perth test. The words ‘give me my job back’ will be brandished onto his sorry behind.

James Morgan

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