Ian Bell burns his bat in protest against India

Ian Bell’s face reflects his mood after setting fire to his bat © Getty Images

Please note: This is a humorous piece – pure fiction.

Shortly after former New Zealand star batsman Martin Crowe protested against Ross Taylor‘s sacking by setting fire to his New Zealand Test blazer, another incident of what is already being termed “Crimation” occurred on Thursday when Ian Bell reportedly burnt his bat in protest at “the completely unacceptable treatment I’ve received at the hands of India’s bowlers throughout this tour”.

Averaging just 14 from three innings, the England No 5 has endured a torrid time on the subcontinent and confessed that today’s torching  was not the first occasion he had considered resorting to such action in response to the “intolerable deviousness” of India’s feared attack: “After I was lured into playing that shot at Ahmedabad I was livid with Pragyan Ojha. No one seemed to say anything about his behaviour but the sly way he just lobbed up a length delivery for me to scoop to mid-off made me want to take a candle to one of my gloves. Of course, I didn’t – I just did that funny thing I do with my top lip instead – but after the underhand ball from Ishant Sharma in Kolkata which he duped me into wafting through to Dhoni, I knew things were going to come to a head. I sat on the balcony and held a magnifying glass over my thigh pad and waited for that sweet-smelling slightly plasticky smoke which makes it all better. It was only when Matt Prior intervened – he’s good at putting out fires – that I realised the madness of what I was doing. I could only hold off my pyrolust for so long, however, and getting out to, I can barely say it, Piyush Chawla just proved too much. I needed to burn willow.”
Those within the upper echelons of the game are becoming increasingly worried that the trend is turning into an epidemic after further instances of “Cri-mations” were reported during the same Nagpur Test match. Perhaps most surprisingly, England captain Alastair Cook, whilst uncharacteristically angered after receiving a somewhat dubious lbw decision, is alleged to have joined the fiery craze by building a bonfire out of his pads in the shape of Kumar Dharmasena, dousing it in petrol and then throwing a lit fag towards it. Medical experts remain baffled by the behavior, but believe this is not even the first “umpyre” to have been set ablaze this year after the burnt out remains of what looked suspiciously like a Rod Tucker mask were found near Jacques Kallis’s barbecue back in August.
Last night, International Cricket Council head Alan Isaac vowed to act  quickly to stop the spread of “Crimation” by insisting that all international cricketers will be fitted with sprinkler systems to be triggered automatically whenever an unnecessarily hot-headed tantrum is detected. “We realise this may make Stuart Broad’s life a little bit soggy from time to time,” he said. “But the health and safety of players is absolutely paramount.”

(James Marsh is a TEFL teacher based in the Czech Republic, although his real occupation is alienating those close to him by wallowing on statsguru. He blogs on cricket at Pavilion Opinions and can be found on Twitter at @PavilionOpinion)