You think that was a record?

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WHEN is a century not a century? When, it seems, it's not a politically correct century. This week the International Cricket Council have, to use a technical term, made complete tits of themselves by attempting to deprive Graham Gooch of one of his 99 hundreds, just as he was mentally preparing for that vital life-enhancing, income-increasing, legend-confirming 100th hundred.

Poor old Goochie - he's had so much to worry about recently. Marital problems, serious razor malfunctions (I cannot believe that his latest attempt at designer stubble is anything other than a terrible mistake), and, of course, on this most arduous of tours, the ever- present threat of religious riots from disaffected Gower worshippers. And now someone at the ICC has objected to the 109 he made for the SA Breweries XI against South Africa on that grisly 'rebel' tour of 1982.

Well, I can understand people still feeling a bit cross about that tour - it was something of a low point in recent sporting history - but to declare unilaterally 11 years later that it doesn't count as first-class seems, at the very least, a bit rich.

Fortunately, the revisionists at the ICC haven't got away with it, and Gooch's record has now been restored. But we all know of the power of politics in sport, and what can happen when your face doesn't fit. Consistency is as nothing when political principles are concerned. And if the ICC can rewrite history so blithely why can't everyone else? And when will they start?

First to go, I predict, would be the Bodyline tour of 1932-33, excised from the records after protests from the Australian delegation that Douglas Jardine was a toff and wore a stripy cap and was very badly played by an unknown Australian actor in the mini-series of the same name.

From then on, all hell would break loose. In football, the Germans would find a little known by-law in FIFA rules, almost certainly inserted last week, that disallows all West Ham players from scoring goals in World Cup finals. The English FA, in response, would try and find a rule that prohibits Jeff Astle from playing international matches, and would insist that the quarter-final of the 1970 World Cup is replayed, possibly with all the same players.

In athletics, many world records would come under scrutiny, especially those few that were thought to have been set without any recourse to drugs. Such flagrant flouting of the rules could of course bring the entire sport in disrepute, and all such records would be expunged instantly. The International Olympic Committee, emboldened by this, would then begin the long and difficult process of judging the rights of past medal-winners to retain their medals.

Genuinely amateur sportsmen, naturally, would have their medals impounded, as would people from countries that hadn't bought enough private jets for members of the IOC. Sooner or later every known sport would become affected, except boxing, which has been like this for years anyway.

Ah, what a bright future all of this would portend, in which sporting records could constantly be rewritten, depending on who happened to be holding the pen at the time. The irony is that Graham Gooch would probably benefit more from this than anyone. For one of the first to be airbrushed from this brave new world would be one D I Gower, dismissed from the records for playing too many wafty shots at wide ones when the chips were down. Politicians hate that sort of thing. Fortunately, being caught in flagrante with barmaids is another matter entirely . . .

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