The Briefing takes a tongue-in-cheek look at the month gone by
The original Afridi
Shaheen Shah can do what he likes, but he is only a human being. Shahid Afridi is an elemental force. In the last two weeks, Shahid was appointed captain of the Lanka Premier League side Galle Gladiators as replacement captain (after Sarfaraz Ahmed and Lasith Malinga had both become unavailable), and went on to put his franchise through a trademark Afridi rollercoaster sequence of emotions.
First, he was supposed to make it to Sri Lanka on November 23, but somehow managed to miss the flight. Team insiders said this was because he hadn't left home on time. The missed flight meant he probably couldn't play in the first two matches for his team because of quarantine. On the surface, this kind of negligence seems unprofessional, but please remember who we are talking about. Regular rules do not apply.
The day after the missed flight, Afridi manages to get on another one (which during a pandemic is no small thing), and everyone thinks he must slog through seven days of quarantine. But then, on the day of his team's first match, news breaks that Afridi has ended his quarantine four days early. Why? Because an antibody test has shown he has already had Covid-19, and as such is almost certainly not going to catch or transmit the disease. Without having had a single training session since arriving, he walks straight out of quarantine into the XI, and wallops 58 off 23 balls.
To sum up, Afridi:
- Beats Covid
- Beats air-travel restrictions
- Beats Sri Lankan quarantine
- Beats bowlers around the park
In non-superhuman Pakistan news
Turns out not all Pakistan cricketers can magic their way through a nation's quarantine protocols. The team on tour in New Zealand have been admonished for breaking the rules of their three-day isolated quarantine, in which team members shared food and mixed in hallways, among other things. The PCB CEO has warned the team that if there is one more breach, "they'll send us home".
When tours are cancelled, they are for very serious reasons - terrorist attacks, natural disasters, war, that type of thing. This tour might be on thin ice because the scent of the biryani from the next room was just too difficult to resist.
LPL vs The Hundred
The Hundred has been on the cards for a long time. The ECB press release announcing the tournament may have been drafted as far back as the Triassic. Teams were named. Sponsors were found. Rules were incrementally floated and fine-tuned. Coaches and icon players were systematically assigned. If the tournament was coming together on the world's slowest production line, it's because every detail was meticulously attended to. Tens of millions of pounds were poured in. And then the pandemic happened and the ECB postponed the whole thing.
Let's compare this to the LPL. Sri Lanka Cricket, a board that repeatedly failed to organise a T20 league during non-pandemic years, rocked into late 2020 unsteady as ever. Then, with air travel across the world hampered, their own government imposing strict quarantines, the north-east monsoon still coming down in parts of the country, and with barely any money in the coffers, they managed to somehow string together a tournament that, for now, has produced competitive cricket, and captured the nation's attention.
For the ECB, this must be like when you study conscientiously all year, only for the guy who's barely been at class to stagger in halfway through the exam niffing of booze and weed, to get way better marks.
Australia, are u ok?
Remember when visiting captains were targeted and oppositions were torn down when they toured Australia? An Australia player would generally give a press conference in which he uttered the phrase: "Cut off the head of the snake". The press would often lambast the tourists' prior record in Australia. Sometimes, even politicians weighed in, much to the chagrin of the visiting team.
This summer though, Australia has gone Virat Kohli crazy. They're calling the Brisbane Test - the only one India's captain is likely to play - the "Kohli Test". On air, commentators are calling him "King Kohli". Pretty much every newspaper has published a glowing article.
We get that Kohli is the most accomplished, marketable and charismatic cash cow in a generation, not to mention marketable. We get that this is the post-sandpaper era, where there is a yearning to be good human beings, rather than just a good cricket nation. But take a look at yourself, Australia. Is this really you? Have you gone too far the other way?
The Test championship's rampant failure
Greg Barclay, the new chairman of the ICC doesn't seem to be sold on the Test Championship, claiming that "Covid has highlighted the shortcomings of the championship" and that he is "not sure whether [the Test championship] has achieved what it intended to do". But what does any of that mean, exactly? The Test championship hadn't even run halfway through its schedule, and was at a fragile stage of its cycle before getting run over by the pandemic. How could it possibly be known how it was going to perform? Isn't this like talking crap about your kids and giving them up for adoption the moment they get sick?
Next month in the Briefing
- Broadcast statistics on LPL are released. Tournament shown to be wildly popular with English mums and kids.
- Australian prime minister announces national week of mourning as Virat Kohli leaves their shores to go on paternity leave.