The 11 cricketing body-parts most likely to have a decisive influence in test cricket in ’09…
1. Smith’s chin: on which the Proteas will have to take any poor day in the field, middle-order collapse, or accusation of distressing collective ugliness.
2. Cook’s eyes: huge, puppy-like, and needed to trace ball faithfully from crocked hand to stolid bat, thereby providing England with a rare top-order stalwart.
3. Ponting’s jaw: any strain to his relentlessly chewing mandibles will stem the flow of nasal banter and so nullify his hugely irritanting potency.
4. Pietersen’s left leg: utterly crucial for the on-side flamingo.
5. Amla’s beard: it’s huge, thick, and talismanic. Much like its owner’s captain.
6. Vettori’s glasses: not strictly a body-part, but enough of a fixture on Vettori’s face to merit inclusion. Should they bend, crack, or smudge Vettori might loose sight of the sixpence on which he needs to land his off-spinners to avoid having them hooned to the fence.
7. Flintoff’s ankle: weak, unreliable, nemesis and antithesis of the six-and-a-half foot wicket factory that rests upon it.
8. Dhoni’s head: described on Wikipedia as ‘one of the coolest heads to captain the Indian ODI side’, Dhoni’s head will need to stay likewise coolicious in the test arena to satisfy rising expectations of India’s dominance in the coming year.
9. Simon Jones’ whatever it was: Jonesy did a bang-up job in 2005, can he return fit to up-root Australian stumps in 2009…?
10. Panesar’s fingers: they’re huge, sinewy and connected to the second most important test beard of 2009.
11. Fidel Edwards’ youthful visage: a lure to any confident senior batsmen, Edwards’ 12-year-old’s face will need to avoid hardening into a Gayle-like mask of death to continue inducing fatal hubris.