It must have been an interesting conversation in the match referee's room after the Australia-Pakistan ODI in Perth yesterday as acting Pakistan captain Shahid Afridi was hauled before Ranjan Madugalle to explain just why he felt it necessary to try and eat a cricket ball.
I'm not sure how the conversation went, but just maybe it went something a little like this...
Madugalle: "Shahid I am just going to show you a video" (shows footage of Afridi trying to eat the ball). "What have you got to say?"
Afridi: "Oh that - I thought you had called me in to tell me that Lalit Modi had been on the phone"
Madugalle: "Lalit Modi?"
Afridi: "Yes, I was sure that after the outstanding performance of the Pakistan team today that Mr Modi would be on the phone to recant his ostracising of the great Pakistan players from the free cash handout, er, I mean the IPL."
Madugalle: "But you lost the match? And you lost the series 5-0?"
Afridi: "Yes, but my great captaincy and excellent batting today meant we only just lost. That is a massive improvement."
Madugalle: "Indeed (shrugs). Anyway I am not here to talk about the IPL but why you were munching on a cricket ball. What have you got to say?"
Afridi: "I thought it was an apple m'lud. I was feeling a bit peckish as I only normally play T20s and I had been in the field for ages. Captaincy is hungry work you know"
Madugalle: "An apple? I find that hard to believe. For a start the ball was white. Not red or green. I have never seen a white apple. Are you sure you weren't trying to tamper with the ball?"
Afridi: "Certainly not m'lud. You've heard of toffee apples? Well I thought the ball was a sugar coated toffee apple. Now they are white! It's easy to confuse you know. The game had reached a critical point and I was wondering who to bowl, whether I should do my Michael Jackson moonwalk impression on the pitch, when Lalit was going to call... For some inexplicable reason I thought the ball was a sugar coated toffee apple. I know it is hard to believe."
Madugalle: "Yes, it is hard to believe"
Afridi: "Have you not tried one, (Afridi brings out a white "cricket ball" and starts chewing on it) they are really nice" (Afridi hands one to Madugalle) "Go on, have a try"
Madugalle takes a tentative bite and immediately spits it out.
Madugalle: "Yuk. That is just an apple painted white."
Afridi: "Exactly. Easy to confuse isn't it"