Monday, 26 May 2014

THE CURIOUS CASE OF ADRIAN SHANKAR




The contours of the story are well known. Having falsified documents in order to (late) cut three Earth years from his age (thus making himself a more attractive employment proposition for counties who stood to receive Age-Related Player Payments from the ECB for fielding under-25s), and having completely invented a tournament in Sri Lanka in which he was purported to have excelled (the Mercantile T20), Adrian Shankar managed to convince financially shaky Worcestershire County Cricket Club to offer him a two-year professional contract. Given that he had a first-class batting average of 19 at the time (or 12 if you exclude his Varsity 143 against Oxford University in 2002), the news prompted more raised eyebrows than a Carlo Ancelotti lookalike convention. 

Two weeks later he had been sacked, having made just two (well, one-and-a-half) appearances in the first team: one televised limited overs game and a four-dayer a Championship debut, no less aborted mid-match due to ‘injury’. Thereafter, a whole host of major and minor biographical untruths were peeled back – a full body-wax of gleeful mockery in which he was roundly ridiculed as the Ali Dia of cricket. 

Yes, those details are well known. But a story can never be definitively, exhaustively, or even objectively told. First, new shit comes to light, as the Dude knew all too well. Second, the story continues to act upon the future, keeping the prior events of the narrative open. Not even its protagonists can give you The Full Story. Would Adrian Shankar be able to tell an interviewer – a psychiatrist – what compelled him to such audacious lengths in pursuit of his ever-receding dreams? This was, after all, a former Cambridge University captain and the assumption might be that a basic awareness of the potential for humiliation and social stigma would have safeguarded against allowing daydreams to become, well, delusions. 

The seven-part story that follows may, here and there, drift toward a little conjecture as to the likely nature and scope of those subterranean forces, yet it is much more interested in adding some brush strokes that haven’t yet been painted in, details regarding those final few days spent living out a finely-wrought fantasy – Being-Cricketer – and its ignominious collapse. What did Adrian get up to between Friday 20 May, when allegations about the falsehood of various claims were first put to David Leatherdale, CEO at Worcester, and Thursday 26 May, when he was summarily fired? What last-ditch salvage operation did he mount as the tsunami of truth came rolling toward that ornately constructed but ultimately flimsy house of cards that he had been somehow driven to inhabit? 


If you didn’t even begrudgingly admire the chutzpah he showed to hoodwink WCCC in the first place, then you will surely have to admire the tenacity with which he clung to the dream. 

Part 1: The Talented Mr Shankar 
Part 2: Virtual Reality (Or, The Website that Adrian Built) 
Part 3: Worcestershire’s Source? 
Part 4: Forum / Against ‘em 
Part 5: Denials 
Part 6: Mongoose on the Couch 
Part 7: Wicked-pedia  and the Aftermath


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