Miles Kington: Those whom the gods love win Test matches

The sporting sub-committee took it upon themselves to ensure England won the match
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The Independent Online

1. The chairgod said that he had received a very interesting report on cricket from the standing sub-committee on sport.

6. Was cricket one of these pale Nordic Christian games? the Jewish God wanted to know. If so, he was not interested.

7. Allah said that cricket was not restricted to Christians. He was proud to say that the Islamic country of Pakistan was one of the champions of the game.

8. The Indian god Vishnu said that Hindu nations were also mighty cricket players.

9. The Norse god Thor asked what Vishnu meant by "Hindu nations". Was there another Hindu nation beside India he had forgotten about? Perhaps Vishnu could enlighten him.

10. The chairgod said as politely as he could that he had a report to present and would like to present it in silence. The fact was that the sub-committee on sport had, in his opinion, rather gone beyond its brief by actively interfering in a game of cricket to make it more interesting.

11. There was in progress at the moment a series of five cricket matches between England and Australia. Australia had won the first one. If they were to win the second also, it would be almost impossible for England to win the series.

12. Therefore the sporting sub-committee had taken it upon themselves to ensure that the second match was won by England.

13. Vishnu wanted to know how this was possible.

14. Well, for a start, said the chairgod, apparently the Australians had a fast bowler called McGrath of whom the English were afraid, so the sub-committee had arranged that on the morning of the match he would tread on a ball and twist his ankle too badly to take part.

15. Tread on a BALL? said Vishnu. Could they think of nothing more convincing than that ?

16. Apparently not, said the chairgod. But nobody had suspected anything. After that the game had gone according to plan, with England always having the edge.

17. Until the third day, that is, when the sub-committee had decided to inflict another injury on the Australian side but in error had given it to one of the Englishmen, Flintoff by name.

18. Vishnu said he thought the sub-committee sounded one of the most cack-handed he had ever come across.

19. On the last day, continued the chairgod, despite their best efforts, the Australians still looked as if they would win the game as one of their best players, a Mr Warne, was still at the crease. In slight desperation, the sub-committee had arranged for Mr Warne to tread on his stumps.

20. And still was nothing suspected by anyone? asked Vishnu.

21. Absolutely nothing, confirmed the chairgod. It had got even worse before the end. Apparently Australia were within two runs of victory and England had more or less given up, when the sporting sub-committee called on the help of a glove...

22. The Jewish God said he was sorry, he really couldn't see where this was all going. Treading on balls? Standing on wickets? Asking gloves for help? What was this all about?

23. The chairgod said that it had really developed into an experiment into human credulity. The sub-committee on sport had ended up trying to see how much human beings were prepared to accept in the way of divine intervention.

24. And how much was that? said the Jewish God.

25. Everything that was thrown at them, apparently, said the chairgod. They never suspected a thing. But there would be another chance for more experiments by the sub-committee this Thursday, when England and Australia would be starting another five-day match.

26. Heaven help us, said the Jewish God.

27. The chairgod said he rather agreed, but that it was difficult to stop a sub-committee when they were really having fun.

More from the gods soon.