Apparently, the Cricket World Cup - which officially starts in the Caribbean on Tuesday 13 March - could hit UK productivity to the tune of £200 million.
Those clever chappies at the Centre for Economic and Business Research have noticed that two of England’s matches, against New Zealand on 16 March and against Pakistan on 30 March, are on Friday afternoons, tempting cricket-lovers across the nation to foresake
their desks for an afternoon down the pub. "We estimate a loss of about 5% of a day’s GDP for each day," states the CEBR. "This would cost the economy about £270 million gross, just enough to be noticed in some of the monthly economic figures."
This kind of pseudo-empirical forecasting - ie think of a number and double it - really drives me nuts. I'll explain why in a minute...just after I've checked on England's progress in their final warm-up game against Australia. Last time I dared look (about
three minutes ago) the Aussies had got Pietersen and Vaughan out in successive balls.
Not that I'm paying it that much attention, you understand.