Howzat the god of cricket is the son of Tan – the god of leather and a dryad of the willow tree. He watches over all players and afficionados of the “Gentleperson’s Game”. Whether the athletes of great nations are clashing upon hallowed turf, or six children are playing in a concrete car park with a wicket drawn in chalk on the wall, Howzat will shine his blessings upon them and all will know true joy until bad light stops play (or their Mum calls them in for dinner). Many pantheons around the world have their own avatar of this God of Cricket. For example, in India, this same deity is known as Tendulkar. Howzat’s sacred animal, the Cricket Bat. A flying mammal that can echo locate a the ball using the sound made by rubbing the ridged pads on its legs together. Howzat is staked through mythology by his arch nemesis, the demonic “Golden Duck”.
A temple of Howzat is also known as a “Pavilion”. These vary greatly in grandeur, from tumble down tabernacles serving the needs of humble village elevens, to the elegant half-timbered palaces of long-established sides. Each Pavilion sits at the edge of their immaculately manicured temple grounds, overlooking the field of worship.
The cult of Howzat is known for its lengthy rites where two teams of eleven worshippers will perform the sacred bat and ball dance. These may last anything from a summer afternoon up to a full five days. Given the duration of services, it is not expected that the congregation will give their rapt attention to the proceedings for the entire time. It is perfectly acceptable to occasionally dip into a novel, or perhaps have a little nap under a newspaper. (This may be why the faith of Howzat is more popular than most of the other faiths of the world combined.) They are a very civilised sect, and regular breaks are taken for lunch and tea to ensure bodily comfort. During these respites, a feast of succulent cucumber sandwiches, fruity scones and fine teas is shared by the congregation. The bravest worshippers will eat the warm prawn cocktail sandwiches on offer in the hope that this will help them get the runs.
In addition to their main rites, before every visit to the lavatory Howzatians will say a short prayer called the W.C. Grace. This prayer varies but is always along the lines of, “Oh Howzat, please may I get my gloves, pads, trousers and box off before my bladder doth burst!”
Worshippers of Howzat aim to live for as long as possible, and a great celebration is made of anyone achieving a century. Once a follower of Howzat does pass beyond the boundary to the great commentary box in the sky, their remains will be cremated and interred in a surprisingly tiny urn. If you attend a traditional Howzatian funeral, do not be surprised if the proceedings start with great dignity but descend into an unseemly dispute over the ashes.
The priesthood of Howzat are also known as “The Umpires”. They can be recognised by their crisp white robes and Panama hats. They serve as the arbitrators and judges of the church. Despite (or perhaps because of) their exalted position, the Umpires are sometimes the targets of angry invective. Because of this abuse they have become unionised and are known for frequently engaging in industrial action to protest for better treatment. When they strike, they refuse to lift a finger. Each new campaign causes the other members of the faith to tut, roll their eyes and remark, “The Umpire strike’s back.” The Umpires uphold the 42 Laws of Cricket. If you are wondering why the laws number 42, this is because cricket is the meaning of life, the universe and everything. You can read these Laws and other para-balls of the faith in their sacred text, the Book of Wisden.
It can be difficult being romantically involved with a follower of Howzat, but underneath they are usually a good catch. Try to avoid going nightclubbing with them, as they sometimes unwisely decide to attack a bouncer. You may need to advise your date on best time to leave the ball, and I recommend that you get a taxi home, just in case the object of your affections is hit and run driver. Howzatians can become a bit obsessive in their devotion to the god, to the point where they may neglect the physical side of your relationship. There are, however, a few tried and tested tactics that may work to get their attention. For example, you might want to try a stroke through the covers, a beautiful tickle down the long leg, or even a full toss. If all else fails, bring in a third man (only permissible when conditions are primed for swinging).
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