SYDNEY – The annual ‘Cricket’s Ugliest Man’ awards took place Monday night at the Sydney Opera House, with part-time leg-spinner Steve Smith picking up the main award.
Previous winners of the esteemed trophy include two-time winner Ajit Agarkar and former England captain Nasser Hussain.
Along with Smith, nominees this year were: Kamran Akmal, Umar Akmal, Adnan Akmal, Jacques Kallis, Sajid Mahmood, Lasith Malinga, Munaf Patel, Ishant Sharma, and Peter Siddle
Taking time off from filming ‘The Hobbit’, three-time winner Laxman Sivaramakrishnan was invited to host the awards, which have been described as the ‘Ugly Oscars’.
Nominations were made by the public, with the final winner being chosen by respected ugly players from within the cricketing fraternity. Nasser Hussain, now a commentator on all matters ugly, headed the panel: “There was very little between the nominees – I mean, you look at me and tell me that you have never wanted to throw up at the mere sight of an Ishant Sharma guffaw? I don’t even want to imagine the look on Munaf Patel’s face when he finds out he’s lost.”
Always one to barb the Aussies, Hussain was quick to add: “Smith should cherish the award – it’s the only thing Australia will be winning any time soon.”
Agarkar, noted for his bony frame and Dumbo ears, was a huge advocate of Smith: “We were at a deadlock, but then we looked at the cold, hard facts. I pointed out that captains might be so reluctant to bowl Smith because they need to put a paper bag over his head.”
“Smile for the camera”
In the judges’ notes, Smith was described as “entirely nondescript, to the point of being amorphous.” Special praise was also reserved for the Akmal brothers, who were described as a “strong argument for eugenics.”
They added: “Next Halloween, we’re going dressed as the Akmal brothers – but we’re worried it might be too scary.”
In his winner’s speech, Smith said: “It’s such an honour…I recognise that I’m extremely lucky to be here. There’s such an abundance of ugly talent in Aussie cricket at the moment…” as the camera panned to Peter Siddle nodding along in agreement.
Smith went on to thank Ricky Ponting for being his ‘ugly inspiration’, ending a rousing speech by concluding: “There are no winners or losers tonight – we’re all ugly, and proud of it. So tonight, when you go home to your WAG’s, I implore you: look them in the eyes and tell them that sometimes it’s OK to have sex face-to-face,” drawing a standing ovation from the 5,000 strong audience of mostly single ugly aficionados.
Indian fast bowler Ishant Sharma was in a reflective mood at the after-party, having been widely touted as pre-awards favourite: “It’s always disappointing to lose, but I gave it my best shot at being the ugliest player I could be. I didn’t get a haircut for the entire year, and I didn’t shave my chin. Sreesanth said it looked like I had pubes hanging off my face, which was exactly what I was going for.”
However, not everybody took the result in their stride. In a bitter riposte at the judges’ verdict, friends of the Akmal clan were outraged at the result.
Ijaz Butt, a noted doyen of ugliness, was livid: “Tonight, three of our sons were embarrassed and humiliated by a pathetic judging panel full of goras and haramkhors. Who is this ‘Nasser Hussain’ character anyway, and what makes him qualified to judge people based on their ugliness? This is racial discrimination.”
“We have been accused of fixing matches, but this is the most blatant fix I have ever been involved in,” said a furious Butt, as his chronic halitosis pervaded the press room.
Kamran Akmal’s new wife, looking thrilled at the prospect of consummating the marriage.
“This is a conspiracy to defraud Pakistan ugliness,” he fumed, before cutting short his rant to take a call, casually cupping his phone and adding: “I gotta take this, it’s my bookie.”
Pakistan’s wicket-keeper Kamran Akmal remained altogether more stoic: “It’s a shame yaar, but at least Pommie Mbangwa told me I have the face for radio, which was a massive compliment.”
“Praise from Caesar himself,” added the eldest Akmal brother.