“Before the start of the two-month long exhilarating cricket, the opening ceremony of IPL 6 described as the greatest show ever in India by the organisers, would stay true to its theme of ‘cricketainment’.” (The Times of India 2 April).
Plans for the arrangements to open County Championship 114 have been leaked to 99.94 and they are every bit as lavish as you would expect. Spread, like Michel Platini’s Euro 2020 football tournament, across many venues, they promise to trump even the unprecedented, unforgettable, indeed unwatched, scenes at Lord’s for Cricket World Cup 1999. Here’s just some of the events planned at each of the grounds on Wednesday 10 April.
Durham vs Somerset (Chester-le-Street) – Rodney Bewes and James Bolam will be guests of honour. They will spend the day reprising their famous episode of “Whatever Happened to the Likely Lads”, the one when they had to avoid the knowing the score – which won’t be too difficult unless the big screen is fixed by then. Stottie cake and dripping sandwiches will be served to the “crowd” at lunchtime and an effigy of a monkey hanged at close of play – by Harbhajan Singh (if available).
Nottinghamshire vs Middlesex (Trent Bridge) – A musical reconstruction of Harold Larwood being drummed out of Lord’s will be performed during the lunch interval in which Larwood will be played by Robbie Williams, Douglas Jardine by Benedict Cumberbatch and Pelham Warner by George Osborne. All the players will wear miners’ helmets for the final session – not as a tribute to Larwood, but as a means of seeing the ball in the gloom.
Warwickshire vs Derbyshire (Edgbaston) – ELO will welcome the season with a performance of Mr Blue Sky – the English penchant for irony will be noted. Birmingham’s celebrated Bullring and Warwickshire’s ex-trophy laden captain Dermott Reeve’s recent fiftieth birthday will be marked at the close of play by letting a bull loose and seeing Reeve he gets on with that then. Curtly Ambrose will join the festivities via Skype to give a personal message of support – to the bull.
Yorkshire vs Sussex (Headingley) – Shirt sleeve order for the Tykes at Headingley, once the snow has been cleared, with Tetley Bitter and Yorkshire Tea being served at the lunch break. Southern softies will be abused for wearing sweaters by a variety of local entertainers, who will recreate the unmissed authentic Western Terrace atmosphere for one day only – special guest, Paolo Di Canio!
Essex vs Gloucestershire (Chelmsford) – Nigel Farage and the cast of TOWIE will lead a number of events throughout the day including: “Spot the Kolpak – and then send them home”; “Ball tampering – with Amy Childs”. Danish Karneria will be signing and. possibly making, books in a special appearance when he will explain what it’s like to be bowl a wrong ‘un.
Glamorgan vs Northamptonshire (Cardiff) – The 912 people who witnessed the Test victory over Sri Lanka in 2012 will be invited back and awarded a shirt with their number at entry embroidered on the right breast. The legendary stand between Jimmy Anderson and Monty Panesar in 2009 will be re-enacted by Gavin Henson and the Welsh RFU, as they block all attempts at reconciliation. Nobody will be in attendance as everyone has spent all their money watching the rugby and football.
Hampshire vs Leicestershire (Ageas Bowl) – Rod Bransgrove will be available for interviews, photo opportunities and other media work from 7.30am to 10.30pm (and throughout the season). The ground will be accessible by snowmobile only. There will be a special showing of the film The Shining on the big screen at the close of play. A special collection will be held for Leicestershire’s players so they can afford the petrol home.
Lancashire vs Worcesteshire (Old Trafford) – Patrons will be allowed on to the outfield to point and laugh at the various ground “improvements”. They will also be offered the opportunity to sign up to buy a souvenir piece of masonry from the stand just about to be completed when it is demolished in September. The crowd will also relive some of the great days in Old Trafford’s recent history by failing to call really obvious no balls bowled by returning hero Wasim Akram, spend hours staring at a small puddle at deep square leg while play is suspended and listen to the radio feed as Lancashire’s greatest season for 77 years is played out, match after match, in Liverpool.
And they call the IPL “cricketatinment”?
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