Farcical Fixture Fun

People of Asian extraction are not normally noted for their rugby skills – or at least the physical side of the game – but cricket administrators on the subcontinent in recent weeks have shown that they can spot a gap, and take it, as well as the greatest back line players of all time.

Spotting the gap in South Africa’s cricket schedule in August, and mindful that their own players also had a couple of days spare between moronically meaningless one-day games, they conceived the most fatuous competition in the game’s long but not always illustrious history.

You can just see cricket followers stopping in the streets to catch a glimpse of the apparently imminent “Africa versus Asia” series, can’t you?

Forget the World Cup – too many small teams involved – this new inter-continental rivalry is set to become THE next big thing. Difficult to believe nobody has put it together before. It’s just what our two continents have been waiting for.

The Afro-Asia Cricket Council (AACC) was formed between like-minded administrators from the seven countries involved: India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, South Africa, Zimbabwe and Kenya. Like-minded in that they don’t care a hoot for the audience, the players or the quality of the product. They care only about making money and would organise a match between naked grandmothers if they could sell the television rights.

Like testosterone fueled teenagers they had sex first and asked questions later. In fact, they have not yet asked the questions. So allow me to pose a couple.

An official in Pakistan declared earlier this week that “representation from SA, Zimbabwe and Kenya was important for the credibility of the African side.” Fair enough. But it does seem strange, then, that a second official announced the dates of the three matches as being on the 17th, 19th and 21st of August.

The problem? Zimbabwe’s second test against New Zealand is scheduled from the 15th to the 19th of August in Bulawayo.

“Perhaps they could have the Test match and the one-dayer on adjoining fields so the place could just nip in and out of the relevant match when they are required,” suggested a senior UCB official with unconcealed sarcasm.

Unfortunately that won’t be possible because the Test match is scheduled for Bulawayo and, get this, the three Afro-Asia matches are set to be played…on the Highveld!

“This is a television driven event,” said the UCB official who is furious at having been kept in the dark for so long while negotiations were taking place.

“Which means they will need a central pitch on the square. We can, and do, play winter cricket on the Highveld but we use a pitch on the edge of the square because we basically have to write it off for the rest of the season because the grass is completely dead. So now we’re going to kill off our best pitches for the season to play a one-day game between Asia and Africa?”

When I first heard about the AACC I genuinely thought it was either a joke or a hoax, or both. I ignored it in the firm belief that it would go away. It appears it hasn’t, and won’t.

But I have the greatest faith in the integrity of Africa’s cricket loving public and I trust implicitly that you will all give the proposed tournament all the respect it deserves and keep your wallets in your pockets. Besides, it’s rugby season.


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