Excerpt from a speech by Comrade Joseph Stalin to the Supreme Soviet of the M.C.C. – In the ‘Great Long Room of the People’ Lord’s Cricket Ground, New Moscow, NW14, May 1st 1937

These were indeed cricket’s darkest days, when the hallowed halls of the Lord’s pavilions came under the control of the grey arm of the Soviet Union’s ‘Cricket Comintern’ after the successful storming of the Grace Gates by the crew of the Battleship Protemptkin.

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Oi Molotov, tell Larwood to bowl straighter – NOW! Or it’s the gulag for him.

That dark period ‘as the stormclouds gathered’ is shrouded in mystery; unsurprisingly almost all records of that time have been expunged from the Lord’s museum and the M.C.C.’s archives. Little physical evidence remains to remind us of those days, the hammer and sickle wind-vain that stands were an effigy of old father time allegedly once stood, the Borscht and Boiled Cabbage Soup still served at the Lord’s Tavern to this day, and English cricket’s interminable reliance on five-year plans, these small things are all we have.

Until now that is, because Professor Günter Simmermacher chief lecturer in Cricket Archaeology at the Alabama Institute of Reactionary Studies in Mobile, has unearthed a telling document hidden in a rare 1937 issue of Wisden, the last to be edited by Leon Trotsky.

It appears to be a portion of an early draft of a speech given to the MCC Presidium by England’s head coach, Joseph Stalin himself. The draft, annotated by Stalin’s own hand, gives a chilling insight into M.C.C./K.G.B philosophy, and solves perhaps one of cricket’s greatest mysteries.  How was it that England did not lose a single game under Stalin’s guidance?  Well having read this new evidence we can say we now have a new and valuable insight. For though we know that Stalin knew relatively little about cricket (though a good deal more than those charlatans who style themselves ‘Sky TV commentators’) he was by anybody’s standards, a world-class disciplinarian.

Read on my friends, read on…

“…by which time his batting average had dropped below 40, so I had him executed.

Moving on, if the objectives of the current five year plan are to be achieved production of the T34 cricket bat must be ratcheted up to meet demand from the newly occupied cricket lands of Finland, Lithuania and all those ‘stan countries’ <pause for three minutes of polite laughter> as I like to call them, down south.  To that end I was reading the Q1 production report of the ‘Novosibirsk Glorious October Revolution Cricket Bat and Jock-Strap factory’ just yesterday, and I have to say comrades it made depressing reading.

I quote:

“During the period January 1 to march 30th, the factory produced 1, 387, 492 T34 cricket bats, however on testing 97% of them were faulty and were scrapped according to plan.”

 

Well frankly comrades this just isn’t good enough. It goes without saying that I have ordered the execution of the Heads of Production and R&D, and their replacement will be the first task of the new Head of Personnel who will himself replace the previous H.R. chief who you will remember was executed last month after the ‘cult of the wrong personality’ fiasco.

If nothing else these production failures have put a strain on the supplies of willow from the collective willow farms in the Caucuses, which are unable to keep up with factory demands.  I know that Comrade Lysenko has some unusual and innovative theories about how willow tree production can be increased, and I await the results of his experiments with interest. As indeed will his wife and children, who I have ordered executed if production does not meet factory requirements.

This brings me on to the unfortunate story of the demise of Comrade Trueman. Many of you I know, were confused by the decision to terminate our Captain given that England had not lost a single game under his leadership. I have to tell you comrades that his death was the result of an amusing communications mix-up!  I had stated in a memo something to the effect of “The Captain’s plans must be executed forthwith”; unfortunately Comrade Beria somehow missed be the word ‘plans’ and went ahead with organizing a firing squad for all our squad captains.  An unfortunate administrative error I’m sure you’ll agree.  As a result I have removed Comrade Beria from the team selection committee.  I have also removed his teeth.

Sadly I have to report the departure of Comrade Trotsky, who has taken an unexpected leave of absence, and is even as I speak on a freighter to Mexico.  I have to report that Comrade Trotsky has left his job at Wisden without proper authority, so I can assure you he will shortly be receiving a visit from our friends in the NKVD.

<Insert ‘ice-pick’ joke here, and await compulsory five minute standing ovation. Order execution of anyone not laughing. >

Finally Comrades, I know you are all keen to start on your bowls of Mrs. Bedser’s excellent Borscht and Boiled Cabbage soup, so I will briefly run over management changes at the Moscow State School of Leg Breaks and Googlies.  As you know last month we had to execute fifteen…”

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’50 Shades of Grey Nicolls’ – an erotic cricket novel in 69 parts

She looked at Jimmy’s manly, chiseled features across her pillows, he was a young stud fast bowler who swung both ways, and now his lean body was naked in her bed.

She pushed back the covers and noticed that he was short of a length.

“What’s the matter baby, you can’t pitch it up for me?”  

“Ney lass, that’s got nowt te do with it, I’m just tired an’ shagged out after a hard day bowlin’on t’ square”, he replied in his quaint northern brogue.

“Would you like me to do some more ball tampering?” she whispered seductively.

“Not now luv, I’ve got te bowl twenty overs at Hashim tomorra, an’ that’s like bowlin’ at t’ brick wall, innit.”

“ohh Jimmy baby can’t you bowl one more maiden over tonight, you know how your tickle to leg turns me on”, she breathed.

She allowed her covers to fall away, and exposed her taught body.

“Ooooh, if you’re gonna flash, flash hard, I always say” said Jimmy, beads of sweat visible on his manly brow.

Suddenly aroused by the sight of her naked body, he rolled over on top of her.

“Ohh Jimmy, is that a middle stump or are you just pleased to see me? she murmered.  “Now that’s what I call a good length,” she added as she studied his bodyline.

“Brace yourself lass, I’m following on”

“Ohhhh baby yes! push that third-man deeper”, she screamed…

<fade to black>

<repeat ad nauseum for 292 pages, sign a multi-book deal, and sell the movie rights. Grab your cheque and run off to Barbados. Buy a large house overlooking Hole Town. Get yourself an ice-cold Banks’s beer, sit down on the beach and watch the sun setting over the Caribbean sea, whilst reflecting that nobody ever got poor underestimating the taste of the great british public.>

Jesus Christ – A Life in Cricket

 “It is possible that cricket, a game venerated all over the Commonwealth, is older than currently thought. In fact, Jesus may very well have played the game (or a similar bat and ball contraption) as a child himself, according to an ancient Armenian manuscript.Long before the English launched cricket some 300 years ago, similar games were being played as early as the 8th century in the Punjab region, Derek Birley writes in his Social History of English Cricket.”

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Level 5 Coach Jesus H. Christ demonstrates the correct finger position for bowling inswingers.

Jesus Christ was indeed a fine cricket player, elegant for a man less than five feet tall, and gracious in his many defeats. Christ was widely loved by early students of the summer game, his ability to feed 5000 people with a few loaves of bread and a couple of fishes came in particularly useful during those interminable Headingly lunch-breaks. As indeed did his ability to walk on water during games at New Road, Worcester in early spring.

 In those halcyon days before Palestine was perhaps unfairly relegated to minor-county status, he was the life, and indeed the soul, of any touring team he was part of.  Wicket-keeper Judas Escariot tells the story of how Christ once caused much hilarity among his team-mates by walking into a hotel reception, throwing a bag of nails onto the counter and asking “Can you put me up for the night?”
Though it must be said that he was not so much loved by cricket journalists who regularly crucified him in the ‘Red Top’ stone tablets of the day.  The Palestinian team (or ‘The Isrealites’ as they were known to their fanatical fan-base) had a very strained relationship with the media and the cricketing and political authorities of the day. It was this negative attitude to those in authority that would eventually lead to Christ’s downfall.
The baby Jesus was first drawn to cricket through his dad, Joe, who was chief supplier of jock-straps and thigh-pads to Bethlehem C.C.  He trained as a carpenter, and was able to supply his dad with a series of innovative wooden cricket products, his ‘Self-Reassembling Wickets’ were considered the wonder of the age..

Christ was an inventive cricketer, here we see him modeling his early prototype cricket helmet.

However his patented Cross design for his excpetionally heavy ‘Crucifix’ model bat, was a commercial flop.  Players found it too difficult to manoever the ball around the infield with a bat weighing close to 300 pounds.

Although when they did manage to middle it – Wow!

Christ's experimentation with exceptionally heavy bat designs, was generally considered a failure.

Christ’s experimentation with exceptionally heavy bat designs, was generally considered a failure.

Such was Christ’s promise and prodigious skills that he was promoted to Captain of Bethlehem CC Firsts at a very early age (3), though it would be a few years before he first came to national attention with a useful knock of 723 against ‘The Good Gentlemen of Gallilee’. However, given that the Galilleean selectors had been able to locate no more than seven gentlemen, this score was later expunged from the 19 a.d. edition of Wisden.

Christ went on to Captain Palestine through their most successful period ever (a.d. 23 to 31). It’s often said that a cricket team is better off with a lucky captain than a good one, and for all his evident skills it must be said that Christ was a quite extraordinarily lucky captain. Once, at lunch on the fifth day of a test match against a strong Pharasese 11, the Israelites were 213 for nine chasing a total of 645, when the match was abandoned after the square was hit by a mysterious plague of frogs.

The end came for Christ rather predictably after he offended the authorities for the umpteenth time, due to an incident with off-spinner Lazarus on the road to Damascus C.C.’s ground.  Local M.C.C. representative Pontius Pilate finally lost patience and sentenced Christ to death citing Law 17 paragraph 2 subsection 3 “Thou shalt not use the M.C.C.’s name in vain, or seek to cause grief, strife or Acid Indigestion to M.C.C. muckety-mucks”.  Sadly it must be noted that the “evidence” for Christ’s “crimes” – such as they were, was provided by wicket keeper Judas Iscariot, who wrote a three page affidavit in return  (it is alleged) for a year’s supply of jock-straps and linseed oil.
The execution was carried out by a touring Roman team on a rest day between matches, in a cruel twist, they executed Christ by nailing him to one of his own ‘Crucifix’ model super-heavy cricket bats.
There the story would have ended, except for a very odd little story uncovered by 19th century cricket-archeologists.  For an entry in Nazareth C.C.’s score book for early May year 1, shows…
Christ, J. (Arisen) L.B.W. Bowled Mohammed (PBOH) 19.
What’s odd here is that this is a record of a match that took place fully 19 days AFTER Christ’s execution.  What could this mean?  What does Arisen mean?  There was much speculation until a contemporary match report was found by scholars in the Nazareth Gazette & Chronicle, this confirmed that indeed, a “noticeably pale and sick looking” Jesus did return for this game dressed only in a muslin shroud. Much to the amazement of his team mates. The report notes that Christ “looked out of form” and “unsteady on his feet”.  Upon being given out L.B.W. by Umpire Gabriel, Christ apparently went berserk claiming that the ball was missing leg stump by some distance, before storming off never to be seen again.  His shroud was found on the square leg boundary and given as a gift to the Captain of Turin C.C. who were playing on an adjacent field.
"...and lo I say unto thee, it was missing leg stump by this much."

“…and lo I say unto thee, it was missing leg stump by this much.”

At least that’s what scholars infer happened, the news report amusingly using the rather florid writing style of the day, claims that Christ “…left the square on a pillar of light that took him to heaven!”
Quite what his batting average is up there, we can only imagine!