Monday, March 21, 2016

Grand final - reading the user manual

A number of readers complained about the last column saying they didn't understand what it was all about. This was very surprising. Firstly it was very surprising that someone read it. Secondly it was surprising that anyone would bother to complain about the lack of comprehension, given that not even the author comprehends what he writes.

Nevertheless we decided to give this another go considering the outcome of the final.

So for once we won the toss but then had no idea what to do. The umpire informed us that we only had two choices, either bat or bowl. Our skipper quickly informed the umpire that we planned to do both. The umpire asked us to prioritise. This resulted in a huddle between the umpires and the two skippers. They let out a big cheer when our skipper conducted another toss with himself and it determined we would bat.

Now given the Lobats performance with the bat this season and most other seasons for that matter, this was reason for the other team to celebrate.

This is where things got interesting. The Lobats public relations manager sent out a press release saying the team's management had come up with a brilliant strategy. The strategy - which will be spelt out to avoid further   complaints - was to dispose of the openers as quickly as possible and get into the tail immediately.

This was the result of a former grand final winning captain sending out a very long email to no one in particular suggesting the team do something unconventional, which he said was the only way to not lose. He said a lot more, but nobody knows what else was said because everyone is still reading that email.

So this unconventional strategy was deployed. While that sounds a bit nuts, it actually makes a lot of sense, like all things Lobats. In case you are wondering about the logic, let's spell it out.

As you will recall it was the tail that got us home in the semis. In fact  it's the tail that pretty much does everything. So the openers were told to go out to the middle and get themselves out, which they did with incredible precision. Then Las and Chanster applied the brakes to the scoring, which is normally the job of the openers.

Runs eventually started trickling in when the opposition got bored to death and started allowing balls to go through their hands as they watched the grass grow, which they claim was far more interesting. We concur.

Meanwhile, your roaming reporter started roaming and he got lost. In the process he discovered the real reason the Lobats scored runs. You will recall in the semis Mikey got himself a new bat. You will also recall that the best thing about this bat was the set of instructions it came with that showed which way was up. You will also recall that this resulted in Mikey batting superbly and bringing us home along with Charuka.

Because of that performance, everyone in the team (except for the openers of course) was scrambling around Mikey as he read out the instructions of how to hold a bat to the entire team. Everyone was making photocopies of the instructions and now these instructions have been read more times than the bible, which you all know is the most read book on earth. Some of the boys took the instructions out to the middle and were occasionally seen studying it.

This resulted in another unprecedented series of events. The boys started scoring runs off the bat instead of counting on Mr Sundries to do all the scoring for them. The lads in the hut were dumb founded. They got so tired of cheering. Normally, our innings would be finished in about 20 overs for about 44 runs. We were now into uncharted territory, where the projected score kept getting revised upwards.

It went from 30 to 44 to 60 to 80 to 99. No one ever thought we would break the double figure ceiling our team has set for itself. Then through no fault of his, Romesh edged a couple of runs through the hands of the slip fielder and we had 101 runs on the board. There was complete silence in the hut. This was because Mikey had asked everyone not to move or breathe because he didn't want to see any changes.

The old guys had no problem with this command. They had stopped breathings years ago. The young guys, who all play like old guys, also had no problem with these instructions, because it meant they didn't have to do anything, which they have mastered over the years of being a Lobat.

Partnership after partnership developed, starting with Roma and Chama, followed by Roma and Rava, followed by Rava and Charuks. Drinks were being run on to the field by the sell out crowd of spectators - Chaths and Jude. Jude was offering a selection of whiskeys and wines out of the bar at the back of his car. Apparently Jude is quite a hit with the NSW Blitz crew - every time he gets pulled over for a breathalyser, he offers the coppers a drink of their choice and immediately becomes the life of the party.

Back to the cricket.

Charuks and Rav both started hobbling and then crawling after a few very gentle singles. At this point the opposition was wobbling, which again had never before been seen in a Lobats performance - at least to the memory of your roving reporter, whose as you know is equivalent to a baby fly.

We sent out a couple of stretchers which were sent back because the boys needed their wheelchairs. Eventually they wheeled their way back to the pavilion.  

Then Janaka and Prasanna went out. Janaka used all his experience to conduct a batting master class. As you know the team has about 3700 years of collective experience. What you didn't know is that 3500 years of that lies solely with Janaka. He was showing classical defence shots of yesteryear followed by beautifully stroked drives through gaps. But what was most amazing was his running between the wickets. He was turning back for a third when Prasanna was just leaving his crease for the first.

The young lads in the pavilion put down their bat manuals and started taking copious notes on how to run. They have promised to run like mad in the off season to make up for all the runs they left on the pitch during the season. We're expecting to read about these Forest Gumps in future columns.

This partnership blossomed to the point that Jana and Prasanna decided to shake hands at the bowlers end during a run. Unfortunately the keeper took the bails off at the other end and Jana headed back. Chaths quickly ran a shot of whisky out to Prasanna, but then the umpire called Jana back and asked Prasanna to scoot because the umpire preferred Jana's strokes. At that point, Chaths quickly grabbed the drink off Prasanna and ran to Jana and handed him the drink.

At this point, the boys tore up their notes on how to run between the wickets. Meanwhile all the spectators of the sell out crown who had never seen so many runs scored by the Lobats in an entire season, let alone one match, were all walking around the boundary videoing this insane. They looked baffled.

To make a long story longer, we ended up on 190+. Peter who had never had to count so high since joining the Lobats was now through his 20th pencil. He sent Chris out to the stationary shop to buy another five score books. The innings finally ended on the last over the day, with three balls to spare. That was a shame because the plan was to have a go in the last three balls. For once we almost batted out our overs. But as you know life happens while you are making plans. With the Lobats, shit happens.

Then Chama brought out a cake to celebrate our victory until the skipper informed him that the other team had yet to bat. We told the skipper to skip off and celebrated nonetheless. Even the spectators were given a cake to celebrate. They obliged and offered a bottle of wine and whisky in return. These were amazing scenes that brought a tear to the eye of your reporter of international disrepute, who was rolling around on the floor laughing - for no reason at all.

Day 2 - happened. Read all about it at a future date…

Thursday, March 17, 2016

Lobats strategy for the grand final set to go like a Porsche

A special report has been drafted after the minutes of a special brains trust (sorry, that was lack of brains and trust) was leaked and lodged on wikileaks. The author of this article is now hiding in the Tibetan embassy fighting extradition charges to Timbuctoo.

You, however, get to enjoy reading about the strategy planning session for the grand final with only the risk of falling asleep mid-sentence.

Never before has a Lobats strategy session been recorded. But this was because the old buggers who have these sessions never remember what they just said, so it was impossible to record anything. The minutes of this meeting, however, show how great minds don't work, so this is a revelation.

It turns out that one bright spark on the management committee called the special meeting and laid out the following dilemma. He said that given the Lobats had been in reverse gear all season and had somehow made it to the finals, something needed to be done. The rest of the senior Lobats couldn't understand why.

He decided to use a metaphor to explain. He said the Lobats had been like a car that has been backfiring all season and a good mechanic needed to take a good look at the engine to figure out what was wrong and fix it. He said he had already done this and presented what he had learnt.

It turns out that the Lobats is a very old car. That of course is not news to anyone. What is new is this car was built after the first World War in Europe - Eastern Europe to be exact - most likely by men in black and white stripped uniforms who spent their days behind bars so they didn't leak any information on this car.

The car was one of a kind. Nothing like it had been seen before. It had 12 cylinders, occasionally 13, depending on the day. Being one of a kind, no spare parts are currently available. Now anyone who knows anything about cars knows that a car with 12 cylinders is great and such a car is likely to out muscle most others in a race. So the senior Lobats were feeling pretty good about themselves. Hi-fives all around, a few pats on the back and a few back rubs were seen during this part of the meeting.

This is when a bombshell was dropped. It was made clear that cylinders by themselves were pretty useless. You needed good spark plugs to ignite the fuel in the cylinders and push the cylinder heads up and down to convert the fuel into motion. This is where the problem was, he said. All season, only one spark plug was providing a spark, which meant the car had been working on one cylinder. The other cylinders had been doing their own thing - walking to the beat of their own drum and these drums had stopped beating years ago - mainly due to age.

This was incredible insight. It meant that we simply needed to replace 11 sparkplugs. As you know, the Lobats had a combination of sparkplugs from India (Gujurat mainly) and Sri Lanka. There is one spark from Australia but as you know everything in Australia is made in China, so we're pretty sure that spark is really Chinese.

But the problem is it's always a different sparkplug that works at different times in different matches. So it was suggested that we replace all the not so bright sparks, which meant finding another team to play the finals. The senior members of the club said that was not an option. So the alternative was to find a way to get the current sparks to spark.

To do this, the mechanic suggested that they compare the engine of the Lobats to the engine of a Porsche to determine how to fine tune the Lobat. There happened to be a nice blue Porsche parked at every game, so they decided to compare the engines of the two, side by side.

They opened the bonnets of both and realised the problem immediately.

One bright old spark shouted 'Uh huh, I found the problem. We don't have an engine!" Everyone else quickly pointed out that the old fellow was looking at the Porsche and not the Lobat. Then it occurred to them why the Germans didn't have a cricket team - they didn't know how to build an engine.

But this got everyone thinking. Now, as you know, thinking is not the strength of the senior team members. Swing first, get out and then ask questions later, is the usual modus operands. If the Porsche didn't need an engine and was the benchmark that all car companies aspired to, we simply needed to get rid of our engine all together. Finally logic prevailed for the first time in the history of the Lobats, which as you know is some 3700 years or so.

One of the senior members, who knew a thing or two about sports cars, said removing the engine was a great idea because it will make the car much lighter and it can go faster. Absolute genius. Everyone couldn't believe no one had thought of this earlier. That's always the case with brilliant ideas. True genius sounds simple in hindsight - just ask Einstein, or whoever invented the zip. Actually, who invented the zip?

All we need to do now is park the car on the top of a very tall hill and give it a small push. And that ladies and gentlemen is the strategy for the finals. Read all about how it turns out next week. Howzat!

Monday, March 14, 2016

Lobats unfortunately use reverse gear to go forward

Ok, ok, ok … yes I promised to only subject you to one of these mind numbing pieces of dribble this year, but due to another unprecedented series of events this weekend, we have decided to ignore the UN embargo on this column and are seeking to sneak another story past the censors.

Besides, now that Mr Trump is an avid cricket fan after finding like-minded individuals in the Kings Langley bunch, we're in safe hands. Mr Trump, famous for absolutely no reason at all, is used to selling ice to Eskimos and will find a way to explain yet another blunder to the world.

Meanwhile, let's get on to the reason a second column in as many weeks has been drafted. It is only fitting that we do our best to describe this amazing series of events as truthfully as possible. This will give historians an accurate account of the most amazing cricket match ever recorded by a serious journalist of international disrepute.

We should start, as always, with the obligatory disclaimer: if you are expecting to read about how the Lobats used their 3700 years of cricketing experience and international calibre of players to wipe out the opposition from the semi-finals, we recommend you read the equivalent column from the opposition. That story never happened.

Instead, what you will be reading about is the slow, painful effort that 14 not so young, but eternally optimistic cricketing wanna bes put each other through, simply because watching the grass grow was far too exciting.

Ok, on to the first day's events.

Saturday started as it always does with the sun rising at about 6am. Of course, no one can confirm this unsubstantiated rumour because all elite members of the Lobats were sound asleep.

What we can confirm is that fortunately most of us made it to the grounds on time but unfortunately the skipper skipped out to the middle and tossed like a tosser, but then fortunately the opposition made a flipping bad call. Ordinarily, bad calls are customary - in fact mandatory - in Lobats decisions. In this case, once again, it worked in our favour when the opposition asked us to field.

Fortunately for us, the skipper of the opposition was on our side, as we would soon learn throughout the events of the weekend.

Back to the cricket. We took the field. Our skipper bowled a few warm ups, that were rapidly dispatched to fielders, who even more rapidly moved out of the way and yelled 'yours'. In the first over, we had their two batsmen shaking hands with the keeper while in the middle of a run. This confused everyone, which resulted in wild screaming.

That scared the batsmen who both then started running to the bowler's end. By the time our fielder had picked up the ball and returned it to the bowler, both the batsmen were ready to face up. The umpire asked one of them to go back to the bowlers end because none of us were interested in running them out.

This irked Prasanna who took it out on Charuka, behind the stumps, by unleashing a thunderbolt that the batsman knicked. Charuka dived for cover the wrong way and found the ball stuck between all five fingers. He started the day with 10 fingers so he was seriously concerned until he realised he had another hand. Order was restored.

Prasanna got another wicket quickly and that fired up the sell out crowd: Ricky and Chathura. Chathu with his 9.5 fingers was giving us a one-and-a-half thumbs up and Ricky was commending the opposition with his hand that had the extra large middle finger.

We unleashed our secret weapon, Janaka, who started the revolving door of batsmen. They came, turned around and went.  We had them on the ropes at 36 for 7. Normally this would be reason to celebrate, but the Lobats never needed a reason to celebrate. Ricky and Chathu had the pappara band going at full swing.

Their last three batsmen wanted to give the sell out crowd something to cheer at and started hitting six after six. When they were on 110 with the last pair at the crease, the batsman clocked another massive six that was going like a scud missile to a neighboring suburb. The silly bugger fielding in that vicinity panicked and tried to bolt to safety. Unfortunately, this old grandpa hadn't even moved a couple of feet when he noticed the scud missile appeared to have a heat seeking war-head that was headed straight towards his crown jewels.

Grandpa tried to jump out of the way, but got pinged by the ball that took him off the ground and pinned him to the top of a lamp post. The local fire brigade took him off the pole and placed him back on the grounds. Forensics found the cricket ball firmly lodged between his legs and since he never actually stepped out of bounds, the umpire ruled the batsmen out, declared the innings over and asked the Lobats to bat. Grandpa reminded everyone of the importance of keeping their eyes on the ball. Not everyone understood what that meant.

Time to bat…

Ten minutes later, two batsmen were seen chasing the skipper out of the pavilion, shouting something incomprehensible. Ricky helped translate.  Turns out they were just practicing their batting.

The top order did their job of putting everyone to sleep. They were just following the skippers instructions of winning the race by putting the rabbit to sleep. Every now and then the opposition skipper screamed out loud to wake everyone up. This irked the umpires who were enjoying a quiet nap. The umpires warned the skipper twice. We ended day one 40/2 chasing 111.

When the opener's wife learnt that the Lobats could win the match, she called an emergency meeting to ensure that this would not happen because lunch plans had been made for the following weekend. Elite commentators from around the world tweeted her back and told her not to worry. They said cricket is a funny game, but it has never been that funny.

Day two started, simply because stopping it was beyond our control. Upul showed up on time for the first time in the last 10 years only because all the bookies had provided amazing odds on his being late. He picked up his loot and went straight home. He has now been fined for match fixing.

The opposition was a little unhappy with the spectator turn out on day 2, so they started screaming at the top of their lungs every few seconds until the entire neighborhood came out to see what the bleeping ruckus was. Mike was very upset about having his peace and quiet being disturbed, so he started walking around complaining to every tree that would listen. A few trees were seen fleeing the scene.

Then the Lobats started performing like they usually do. The revolving door was revolving again. The neighbors started calling 000 when they heard repeated screams from the middle. Soon we were 60/6. That's when Charuka went out to bat. Only a few days prior, Charuka had chastised the selectors for including him in the side when all his performances had been everywhere else but on the cricket field.

He was in a foul mood. Thank goodness. Soon we were within 40 runs of the target. It looked like plain sailing at this point until Nirav who was looking good at the other end decided it was too hot to keep batting. Then a couple of things happened.

One, we lost a couple of wickets and had only two wickets left. Two, Charuka pulled a muscle between his legs that he didn't even know existed. He was aware of a tiny muscle between his legs, but this other muscle was a revelation to him. He called for a stretcher. From that point on he was hobbling between the wickets. Meanwhile all the Lobats were wobbling on the sidelines.

Then we were down to our last wicket after Prassana also decided it was far too hot under the sun. That meant it was all up to Mike and Charuka. The inside scoop, according to a highly unreliable source, is that Mike, like Charuka, had also chastised the selectors for selecting him in the side.

Chris offered Mike his batting spot because Mike had spent a fortune on a brand new bat that came with one very important thing - a set of instructions on which way was up. Unfortunately it didn't come with a remote control, but fortunately it came with a guaranty of a TON. Unfortunately Mike thought that was the weight of the bat and left it in the hut.

Fortunately no one cared and it didn't matter because Charuka gifted the opposition skipper a dolly, which fortunately he chose to have none of. This resulted in cheers from the sideline. Then unfortunately Charuka skipped out to a ball and missed it, but fortunately the opposition skipper screamed so loud that the poor keeper and everyone within a 7 mile radius ran for cover, resulting in the keeper leaving the ball behind.

At this point, the young guys on the sidelines were complaining of heart palpitations. The old guys, whose hearts had stopped beating years ago, told Ricky and Prassana to be quiet and watch the game. They did.

We had crawled our way to within 3 runs. Every ball was now painful to watch. Not even the 2007 Ashes series had this level of tension and excitement, but then again that series was not  determining the finalist of PDCA B something or the other. The bookies didn't know what to do - they had already lost a lot of money on the Upul wager. Besides the bookie was too busy batting to fix the match.

A single was stolen when nobody was watching. Fortunately Peter, ever vigilant, saw the single and logged it in the book. Now we only needed two more to win. But given Charuka's condition of needing a stretcher to get from one side to other, even the rabbits were holding their breath. That's when the two old men who had protested about being chosen in the side to begin with, hit a ball that resulted in a single, to tie the match.

The skipper picked up the ball and threw it towards the stumps. Charuka limped gracefully towards the stumps. The ball went past the stumps and Charuka turned around and crawled back for a second.

Hi-fives all around. The team manager was seen on the phone with Mr Trump. The Lobats had somehow managed to reverse over the line and crash into another grand final with no idea of how or why they got there.

No World Cup in the history of cricket has been this exciting. Many an international commentator has said cricket is a funny game. If only they knew.


Monday, March 7, 2016

The circus came to town

Boyz - as you know this column has long been banned after the censors decided that the column was so boring that even the one follower of this column - the writer's father - stopped reading it.

However, after this last weekend's events, a special committee was brought together to decide what should be done. When they couldn't decide, it was escalated to the local mayor who promptly escalated it to Mr Turnbull, who promptly escalated it to his best friend, Donald Trump.

Mr Trump's first reaction was to say that he enjoys squashing crickets with his left thumb. When his chief of staff explained the international significance of the Lobats and cricket, he called an emergency meeting at the United Nations to get the clearance for this story to be published.

He retracted his previous comments and said that the weekend's efforts definitely deserved a report by an international journalist of a reputable publication. When they all laughed at him, he called upon the one publication that takes him seriously. This publication has built its reputation on only reporting nothing but blatant lies and pointless stories. So the editors got together and decided to put together a special publication.

Here it is.

First things first. For those of you expecting a story about how the Lobats (the Lack of brains and trust and skill) came together and pulled a rabbit out of a hat and somehow accidentally won another game that they should have lost - you will want to stop reading. This is not one of those stories. Chances are that you have already stopped reading, so we shall continue.

This is a story of a rather incredible series of events never before seen even by all the members of the elite Lobats that has a combined 3700 years of cricketing experience between just three of them. These years of experience was brought to the side after Mike, Janaka and Johnson were banished from all other sides and ended up as life time members of the Lobats.

On to the events of the day.

The usual happened, as it usually does. We went into field after a few gentle stretches and a back rub or two. Given the combined age of the side, we had to be cautious. A couple of the guys left their wheel chairs behind in pavilion. We also managed to leave the new ball in the hut, which lead to a minor panic when no one could remember what a new ball looked like.

The opposition didn't look like they were going to damage too many blades of grass, and it was all very civilised and gentle. Our fast bowlers, who learnt their art of pace bowling at the James May school of slow drivers in fast cars, did their thing of running and letting lose some gentle pace balls.

Prasanna, however was on fire and fired through a few thunderbolts. Ricky, behind the stumps, tried to stop one of those thunderbolts and lost a finger. He had to quickly hand over the glove work to Charuka who in his last match also did the same thing - kept for an over and then handed over the gloves to Ricky. Ricky spent the rest of the day walking around with his middle finger pointed at everyone. Even Peter had tolerate being flipped the birdie by Ricky.

The opposition batsmen did their thing of giving us catching practice. Our fielders did their thing of running, hopping, skipping, jumping and somersaulting - doing everything possible to make their dropped catches look spectacular. The opposition did their thing of rolling around on the floor laughing hysterically. Ricky walked around and flipped them the finger.

Nothing out of the ordinary here. Nothing to report in fact. That's why you're reading about it here.
We had them on the ropes at no wicket for some 60 odd runs after 20 overs and we were confident we had the game in the bag. Although our par score chasing is now 44 runs, one thing the Lobats can not be faulted for is their eternal optimism.

That's when the winds changed on us. The second 20 overs was ballistic. They scored a total of close to 180 runs in the end. We ran off the field and into the hut before some of those balls came down from outer space.

Ten minutes later when the umpire said it was safe to emerge again, our batsmen charged out into the middle. This, mind you, was not out of a desire to go face the music, but mainly because they were being chased out of the pavilion by the skipper who was holding a bat firmly over his head.

Both openers had been promoted to the opening spot because they had failed in all other spots. After taking an eternity to take guard, the first opener charged back to the pavilion claiming his job of facing one ball had been accomplished. From that point on, everyone pretty much followed his lead and we were about 30 for 6.

This is when the unprecedented series of events began. At this point the opposition, who were an under 12 side from a school we hadn't heard of, had managed to get under the skin of pretty much everyone within a five mile radius. At the centre of this 5 mile radius was our very own Chaminda. We're not quite sure what triggered Chama's fuse, but he decided everything had to go. There was six after six interspersed with the occasional run out chance.

One of the sixes ended up near the pavilion where all the boys had gathered to enjoy the fireworks. The opposition fielder who was chasing the ball came up to us and decided to chastise us for not fetching the ball for him. Ricky, who was still walking around sticking his middle finger up at everyone, appeared momentarily baffled, which of course everyone knows is nothing out of the ordinary.

But when Ricky realised this poor fellow was seriously disappointed that after his bowler had been pummelled for six, we failed to fetch the ball for him, Ricky started his engines. Ricky told the little man where to fetch the ball and what he should do with it after. This resulted in a spectacular course of events. The poor little boy decided to not fetch the ball and instead ran straight back on to the field to first complain to the umpire. When the umpire was as baffled as Ricky, he complained to his skipper, who may have actually been his father, because he looked like he was about 24 years old. The skipper took matters into his own hands and was waving his hands frantically left and right at us. Ricky waved back with his middle finger. We took their frantic waving as an SOS distress signal and asked the fellas whether we needed to call an ambulance, the police, the life savers, the coast guard or someone's Mum.

Their response was somewhat unclear, but all sorts of fingers were being pointed in all sorts of directions and a few of their lack of brains and trust decided to convene around the umpire. So far every time they congregated in a huddle of this manner, it ended them jumping up and down repeatedly and them making sounds only heard in remote parts of the Amazon where a rather rare species of ancestors of the homo sapien species still roam. In Australia this sound could  very easily be mistaken for a Kookaburra, but these were no Kookas. This was definitely sound recorded from the pre-Neanderthale era, when predecessors of mankind roamed freely.

That's when we realised the circus was in town. Ricky was over the moon. He was cheering left and right. Chaminda thought the cheer was meant for him and kept going hammer and tong until unfortunately the umpire felt his life was in danger and decided to send Chama back for looking rather dangerous.

The opposition once again huddled and those pre-historic jungle sounds emerged once again. Then they started jumping up and down and we were glad there weren't any trees nearby. Little kids in the neighborhood started running back to their homes, out of fear that Taronga Zoo had opened all its gates and the wild life was on the loose.

The opposition kept looking our way and hailing complements. We acknowledged in kind. They thought they had the game wrapped up, until Prashanna and Janaka decided to show the clowns who their daddy was. Janaka clocked six after six and got us to within striking distance, albeit a little bit too little too late and we lost the game by only about 20 something runs.

At this point, your roving reporter, like Ricky and most other sober observers, decided to make a run for safety and we all picked up our sarongs and fled the scene. Most of us didn't want to risk looking the untamed in the eye. Scenes like this have never been recorded on a cricket field. We are happy to be the first publication to bring this story to you first hand. We have Mr Trump to thank for that. He is now an avid fan of cricket.

We have also decided to start selling tickets to the next circus act these clowns will be hosting. Please buy your tickets, although rumour has it that they are all sold out - all one of them. Howzat.