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Bowled over

From anyone else, it might have seemed like an implausible excuse. If, for example, a young FErret had told his teachers he would not be in lessons because he'd been called up for the first XI of a county cricket team, he would have expected howls of laughter. But when the news came from 16- year-old Craig Miles to his teachers at sports-mad Filton College in Bristol, it was a cause for celebration.

Due to an injury to another player, Craig became the fourth youngest first-team player in Gloucestershire's history, at 16 years and 295 days. The record is held by WWF Pullen, who took the field just shy of his 16th birthday in 1882.

"I only found out I was playing 45 minutes before the start of the game," Craig told his local paper. "I'm meant to be at college on Thursday and Friday, but will have to get a quick email into them to say I can't make it." Whether they will forgive him for also missing a college Twenty20 match is another matter.

Big Friendly Minister

Who knows where the mind of Renaissance man and FE minister John Hayes will land next? Minister-watchers are aware of his range of allusion in speeches, from poetry to art criticism and history.

So it was no surprise when, speaking to students at Hertford Regional College about careers advice, he compared himself to Roald Dahl's Big Friendly Giant. What? No, it was a huge surprise.

But we must leave aside the lesser issue of Mr Hayes's decline from quoting literary giants to cribbing from kids' books. The point of the BFG, if FErret recalls correctly, was that he was the only one of his kind who was not an evil monster who ate children. What is Mr Hayes trying to tell us about his Government colleagues?

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