What the hell is the ICC up to with its barefaced confession that it deliberately rigs the draw in major tournaments to guarantee a pool game between India and Pakistan? It sticks out like the proverbial canine's bollocks in the latest announcement of the two pools for next year's ICC Champions Trophy.

When asked if it was purely coincidental that the two sub-continental foes Pakistan and India were together again, ICC grand poobah David Richardson said: "What we try and do is make sure that when you add up rankings of the different groups, that they all add up to the same number of points." Bollocks, you just put seeds #1, #3, #5 and #7 in one pool and then #2, #4, #6 and #8 in the other.

Richardson frankly admitted: "No doubt we want to try to put India versus Pakistan in our event. It is hugely important from an ICC point of view...It's massive around the world, and it's probably no coincidence the two keep ending up in the same group."

Any credence gained for his candid honesty is immediately cancelled out by the dubious ethics on display here. As David Leggat put it bluntly: "...it's a jackup. And we should not be surprised by that. Money talks, end of story. It won't change, but at least now everyone knows it's a fix."


A fix, and yet so broken.


Good work from Canterbury's Ben Stokes on the Chester-le-Street balcony this week, resplendent in his fluoro green undies acknowledging Captain Cook's 10,000 run milestone despite not even being in the team. Stokes is developing a rep as an underwear exhibitionist, although last time around it was a sports bra he flaunted. Perhaps he is angling toward that unforgettable Jockey Skants route...


I too was pretty gutted to read that groundsman Tom Tamati was pretty gutted to be leaving the fine pastures, solid pitches, peculiar angles and pineapple bread of Dunedin's University Oval behind, in order to lock in some job security and head to a new gig. There he will be scoffing Vegemite sandwiches as he oversees "the preparation of the city's green spaces" in and around the mean streets of Prince Brendon's old stamping ground of South Dunedin.

Tamati had a parting hook shot for Otago Cricket too: "My personal opinion is it has become more of a business rather than a community. It had a real good family feel and we had a good thing going there for the last seven or eight years.''

If you're keen green-fingered and keen to step up from preparing BYC pitches in early November, apply to be Tom's replacement as the Head of Cricket Services: "A highly sought after position has become available with Dunedin Venues Management Limited to manage the 1st class International Cricket Pitch and wider green spaces at the Otago University Oval..."


Will we see the Black Caps erupt in a special edition show of retro Krypton Factor? New Zealand's contemporary Dougal Stevenson equivalent (or was it Ian Fraser?), Jeremy Wells, would make for a worthy compere. I only ask in hope after being inspired by the punishment being dished out to the Pakistani cricket team at the Kakul military academy in Abbottadad: push-ups, lifting, running, stretching, lugging, carrying. And no McDonald's.

Former skipper Shoaib Malik said that the fitness camp helped the team and he was "thankful to the cricket board and the military for organising it." Oh really.

It culminates with a tug o'war win against some young army chaps and rapturous, orgasmic celebrations ensue. On second thoughts, sorry Jeremy, I reckon a post-Test match Pakistan vs New Zealand tug o'war is the way to go instead.


Loved Praveen Sudevan's anecdote about Glenn Turner and legendary Chennai groundsman S. Vasthirayutham.

Turner was coaching New Zealand at the 1987 World Cup and spotted the groundsman bowling in the nets at his beloved M. A. Chidambaram cricket field. The former NZ opener was gobsmacked (but not lost for words) at what he saw: "...a springy action, looping the ball, with his fingers revving it up. After taking its time to pitch on a good length area, the ball hurriedly turned - the deceptive variations made it hard to guess the direction..."

Turner invited the then 22-year-old Vasthirayutham to New Zealand - but the groundsman declined. Now, 29 years later he is still using his fingers on Chennai's russet turf, rather than Christchurch's red leather.


READ: Luke Alfred & Tristan Holme on allegations of match-fixing in South African domestic cricket: "The 37-year-old Bodi, from Azaadville on the West Rand, is an unlikely protagonist. As a cricketer he was largely forgettable; as a man he lacks the seriousness you might expect of someone arranging a criminal act."

LISTEN: Graeme 'Foxy' Fowler (21 test matches for England & Wales) yarns to Aggers about his battle with depression and role as a PCA mental health ambassador. He has a repertoire of magnificent laughs plus one of the great nicknames, but nominates these as better than his: Vic Marks known as "Skid" and Paul Romaines known as "Human".

READ: The magnetic headline says it all, Man loses wife in IPL gambling : "The police said that after having lost his all money at the share markets, the man put up his wife as a stake in IPL betting and lost her too..."

WATCH: The silver fern cap says it all. On VHS. Turn up your headphones - congratulations you're at peak nineties cricket nerd.

Middle & Leg is a cricket newsletter for New Zealand cricket fans who like a dose of optimism and a tablespoon of take the piss with their weekly cricket informational. It is tapped out by Paul Ford, co-founder of the Beige Brigade, and one-seventh of The Alternative Commentary Collective . You can email him here beigehq@beigebrigade.co.nz.