It's not exactly in the same league as selling mail order Via*gra, X[a]nax or p3nis enlargements, but the Zimbabwe Cricket Union's unsolicited email to the eighteen first-class English counties on Monday will go down as one of the daftest acts by a cricket administration in recent times.
The Zimbabwe Cricket Union, stretched for funds in a deteriorating economy and suffering on the field from a drain of most of its best players, is desperate for every scheduled international tour to its country to proceed. And with October's tour by England in serious danger of cancellation, ZCU chairman Peter Chingoka and chief executive Vince Hogg were desperate enough to decide to bypass the ECB and appeal directly to the county administrations.
Bangladesh has just announced its touring team to play two Tests and five one-day internationals in Zimbabwe next month. Namibia has just completed a series of five matches in Zimbabwe against the national under-19 and A teams. Meanwhile, England is fretting over the prospects of touring Zimbabwe in October.
The Zimbabwean cricket team is currently in Australia for the VB Series, making its second trip to that country in three months. The Zimbabwean soccer team is currently in Tunisia for the African Cup of Nations, and lost their opening game to Egypt on Sunday. They had to change their travel plans from Harare to Tunis when the British Government refused to give them transit visas to make a stopover at Heathrow en route.
Last Thursday night, I was watching David Hookes on Fox Sports hosting the one-hour "Inside Cricket" program as he did every week. On Sunday, Hookesy was coach of Victoria as they won their ING Cup game against his old state South Australia. Now, he's gone.
Not since Marcus Trescothick spilled his minties at short extra cover in the Trent Bridge Test of 2001 has cricket seen a lolly scandal such as that which engulfed Rahul Dravid at The Gabba on Tuesday night.
There were 26,190 people at Telstra Stadium at Sydney's Olympic Park for a Saturday night interstate cricket match. In an arena of 80,000 capacity, this was the biggest crowd to see a day's play of a New South Wales home game in more than forty years.
They didn't get a win - Queensland won the ING Cup game with two balls to spare and two wickets in hand - but the popular success of the evening suggests that we will see more such games taken to the former Stadium Australia in future.
It's that time of year again, as I choose my annual World Under-25 XI, my selection of the best players in the world at Test level born on or after 1 January 1979.
My selections, in batting order and including nationality and date of birth:
A little later than intended, my apologies, but here is my selection of the top ten cricket news stories in the 2003 calendar year, presented in reverse order.
As some of you would know, I compiled an annual list along these lines for CricInfo a few years ago in consultation with CricInfo workers and correspondents around the world. This year's list I have done myself.
10. THE RISE OF GRAEME SMITH:
Kumble bowls. Waugh sweeps. He lofts it high in the air. Tendulkar waits just inside the square leg rope and takes the catch. And it's all over.
After 18 years, 168 Tests, 260 innings, 82 scores of fifty or better and 10,927 runs, Steve Waugh had played his last innings for Australia. He scored 80 and helped Australia draw the Fourth Test against India.
With one day remaining in the Sydney Test, Australia needs 433 runs to win with ten wickets in hand. It shouldn't be possible. Shouldn't.
But this Test - and indeed many Test matches lately - have been so unusual that it can't be absolutely ruled out.
We've seen an exhilirating four days of batting at the SCG. Australia made 474 in their first innings, yet it wasn't enough to avoid giving Indian captain Ganguly the option of enforcing the follow-on (which, as it happened, he elected not to do).
It was nineteen years ago - January 1985 - when Clive Lloyd played his 110th and last Test, his 74th as captain, leading the West Indies against Australia at the Sydney Cricket Ground. A world-beating team at the peak of its form, the West Indies was expected to trounce Australia as they had done throughout that series, sending Lloyd out on a high. Instead, the Aussies won by an innings and 55 runs.