Bowled Over! By God!

The match-fixing scandal that has badly damaged the reputation of cricket, has thrown together some unlikely bed partners as concerned players try to restore public interest in the game.

The World Wrestling Federation, together with Kerry Packer, and the born-again Christian movement, RHEMA, is planning to mount a breakaway competition that will do for cricket what Super League did for rugby.

A spokesperson for Kerry Packer was confident that, like World Series Cricket in the 70s, WICCIT (World International Christian Cricket Independent Tournament) will be a great success.

"There is always a place for good Christian television," she added, "even if it is in the early hours of the morning."

Jesse Ventura, American senator and spokesperson for the WWF, was quick to extol the benefits of the move.

"We need to put back the entertainment in cricket," he said. "We believe that the WWF is best equipped to do this. We have had to deal with match-fixing allegations for years. We have overcome public apathy to wrestling and have managed to inject a level of entertainment in wrestling that is sadly lacking in other sports. We have the expertise to pull this off for cricket."

The WWF, keen to win the broadcast rights to international cricket tournaments, is now confident they can mount their own competition.

"Everyone is sick of all these allegations," said a spokesperson for Ventura. "With American backing we believe we can ensure cricket becomes the baseball of the new millennium. Not only that but we will have players of an extremely high standard. Hansie Cronjie had already agreed to captain the first Christian team that we put together. We are confident other players will be lining up to join us.

"We are not going to bother to stamp out all this cash-for-wicket allegations either. We are a nation of sports-mad gamblers and believe it can only work to our advantage as we concentrate on putting a bit of showmanship and entertainment in the game. We are confident that many people would support Hansie and want to see him play again. So are our backers and sponsors.

"Many other good players have been tarnished by this sorry episode in cricket. We see it as a highly desirable marketing advantage. We could never have paid for the amount of publicity these players have and can generate."

There have been rumours of a rebel breakaway for some time. They have only now been confirmed. However players can forget about lucrative offers - at least for the present.

While the WWF foundation will oversea the competition and lend credibility to the breakaway tournament, money to fund the venture will come from the RHEMA Church.

Hansie's Minister, Pastor Ray MaCauly, leader of the born-again-brethren at RHEMA Church, is a strong supporter of the move.

"I have been advising Hansie closely through this traumatic period, and I strongly believe, with God's help a lot of good can come out of this. Just the other day I read how American's have been denied the right to pray before sports matches. We believe that a lot of people can be converted as they watch Hansie pray before each match. Not only that, but we believe God is leading us and can use us to spread the Word of Christ through sport.

"This opens up a whole new market to us. It is a godsend for us. There will be so much opportunity to witness and bring God's word to cricket lovers the world over. We want every one to be bowled over by Christ."

Ali Bacher, (same pronunciation, but no relation of disgraced TV evangelist Jim Baker) South Africa's cricket baron who has been back-sliding since the scandal broke has indicated he will support anything that helps restore faith in his beloved cricket.