January 5, 2010

Come now, Sunny

Andrew Hughes


Broad: guilty of looking like a fat-free Andrew Flintoff © Getty Images
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I have nothing against word processors. Nor do I bear any ill will towards retired cricketers. However, the conjunction of the two is usually, in my experience, something to be avoided. Scientists may believe that an infinite number of former batsmen bashing away at an infinite number of laptops may eventually produce the collected works of Cardus, but I count myself amongst the sceptics.

And can you blame me? Only last week, the prosecution was handed yet more evidence for the bulging file of crimes against common sense committed by decommissioned flannelites. Still bleary-eyed with festive cheer, I turned on my computer one sunny afternoon and was jolted from my complacency by the following headline:

“SUNIL GAVASKAR ALLEGES NEXUS OVER STUART BROAD NON-ACTION”

It sounded dramatic. It invited the concerned, dressing gown-wearing citizen to read on. I read on.

“Stuart's father Chris is one of the ICC's match referees, and so the umpires are reluctant to make a complaint against the youngster.”

Crikey! Heavy stuff. Now when you read a sentence like that, it’s easy to get distracted by all the verbs and nouns and things, but look a little closer and you see that the hardest working part of that sentence is the word “and”. That brave conjunction is carrying a heavy load on its little shoulders.

See, what you've done there, Sunil, old chap, is to seat one undeniable fact next to one slightly smelly allegation, hoping they'll hit it off. Any normal journalist might be expected to come up with some teensy piece of evidence to back up that accusation. I mean Woodward and Bernstein would have had an easy time of it if they’d just been able to scribble: “Nixon. Dodgy. Watergate. Stands to reason, don’t it?”

But there’s more.

“Remember the umpires and match referees are used to hanging out together in the evenings since they are in a foreign country and so forge a good relationship and obviously the umpires are not looking to spoil that by citing the young Broad for a violation of the code of conduct."

Mmm. So sensitive wallflower Steve Davis deliberately goes easy on Broad junior because he and Broad senior have struck up something beautiful and Steve doesn’t want to jinx it. After all, Chris Broad is quite a catch. Who hasn’t bent the rules a little for the sake of romance?

Or is there something else going on here? Is Chris Broad running a protection racket? Has he incriminating photographs of Billy Bowden’s crooked finger? Come on, Sunil, tell us more, don’t leave us hanging in suspense, spill the beans. You’re an insider; you know where the bodies are buried. Surely, a respected former cricketer wouldn’t be throwing this kind of mud around without good reason. So let’s hear it. Sunil? Sunil, where are you?

But Sunil has moved on.

"He knows he can get away with it and indeed he has. Stuart has been quoted as saying he didn't think he had done anything wrong in questioning the umpire’s decision to refer the appeal to the third umpire… and therein has confirmed again that he thinks he is a special case and not on par with the rest of the cricketing world."

Come again? Cricketer says he hasn’t done anything wrong. Got that bit. Bleating that you haven’t done anything wrong is hardly rare. It is particularly common in people who have just done something wrong. But once again, Gavaskar S attempts to jam square peg A into round hole B, steps back and declares the thing a perfect fit. Is protesting your innocence now an indication not just that you think you are innocent, but that you think you are innocent because you are a special case? Apparently so.

In short then, Sunil’s catalogue of conspiracy includes just the three facts. 1. Stuart Broad is a cricketer. 2. Stuart Broad’s father is a match referee. 3. Stuart Broad didn’t think he did anything wrong in Centurion. Let’s be honest, Sunny, this one was a bit thin.

I’ve got a conspiracy theory of my own. It’s not flashy and it isn’t going to sell many papers but it goes like this. Former Indian cricketer, contracted to produce yet another article, is faced with those twin horrors: a blank page and a looming deadline. There are two ways out. One of the finest batsmen the game has ever seen can give us something interesting, uplifting and insightful. Or he can peddle idle, rabble-rousing gossip, ripe with unpleasant smears and entirely devoid of evidence.

Andrew Hughes is a writer currently based in England

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Posted by Himanshu@Zeecric on (January 5, 2010, 18:03 GMT)

Indeed a beautifully written article but I think we should wait for Sunil's version again.

Posted by Dinakar on (January 5, 2010, 17:07 GMT)

Andrew missed one additional fact about the double standards maintained by umpires and the match refrees. Keeping aside Sunny's allegations on Stuart - the fact is that the match refrees have double standards and serious bias.Most of the cricketers from Australia, England and SA walk free even if they are the ones who are the agressors and initiators of most of these conflicts on field. It's high time that we take the person who provokes a conflict to task before acting on the provoked. Time to have tough standards like what we have in FIFA and/or other major american league sports.

Posted by OptimusPrime on (January 5, 2010, 16:49 GMT)

Funny Article Andrew ... So what are you trying to say here ... when a batsman is given out, he can stand his ground and ask for the decision to be referred to the third umpire? Tell us one instance where a non-English or a non-Australian player did such thing and got away with it ? And when someone points it out, you attack the author .. what else can you do ? It would have been better if you came with an article defending S.Broad instead of attacking Mr. Sunil Gavaskar.

Posted by Said Chaudhry on (January 5, 2010, 16:22 GMT)

Woah!! hahaha . . . great read Andrew. You always manage to make me laugh with your witty articles. Although I can clearly sense the bias in your analysis. I'm now anxiously waiting for your next article which I hope will be on why former English captain Michael Vaughan and Nasser Hussein (or was it Atherton?) publicly expressed concerns about Stuart Broad's behavior towards the officials and how little Stuart keeps getting away with it. Its not a mystery to anyone, if Stuart Broad was from the subcontinent, he would have been banned quite some time ago. Sunil Gavaskar's theory may be irresponsible, but it is one that gives us something to think about. Hey, try writing something funny on the following conspiracy theory so we can stop smelling the bias from you:

1. The day England learned the art of reverse swing and won the Ashes, and no one ever muttered tampering (i.e Ian Botham).

Said (Lahore, Pakistan)

Posted by Said Chaudhry on (January 5, 2010, 16:21 GMT)

Woah!! hahaha . . . great read Andrew. You always manage to make me laugh with your witty articles. Although I can clearly sense the bias in your analysis. I'm now anxiously waiting for your next article which I hope will be on why former English captain Michael Vaughan and Nasser Hussein (or was it Atherton?) publicly expressed concerns about Stuart Broad's behavior towards the officials and how little Stuart keeps getting away with it. Its not a mystery to anyone, if Stuart Broad was from the subcontinent, he would have been banned quite some time ago. Sunil Gavaskar's theory may be irresponsible, but it is one that gives us something to think about. Hey, try writing something funny on the following conspiracy theories so we can stop smelling the bias from you: 1. The day England learned the art of reverse swing and won the Ashes, and no one ever muttered tampering (i.e Ian Botham).

Posted by ashtung on (January 5, 2010, 16:17 GMT)

(Contd.) Mr. Hughes, I am neither the 'patriotic, touchy' Indian who will burst in to flames the second a harsh word is spoken nor do I endorse or support every word that Gavaskar or Shastri speaks (in fact I hate Shastri's sight)

I just like your column too much to see one being wasted over this. I mean, I would have enjoyed it if you had made it funnier, which, I am sure beyond doubt, you can...

Posted by ashtung on (January 5, 2010, 16:12 GMT)

Seems it really irked you Mr. Hughes, and so many other Englishmen... But do you have a better theory for the let off?

Also, such form of nepotism is quite common in India - extra marks to fellow teacher's son, cop letting you off for a minor offence if he knows your uncle, family doctor seeing you ahead of queue - and hence, these allegations are not as far-fetched as you make them out to be..

Common sense tells me that such things would not be out of place in the more polite English world too, albeit they would not be as apparent or blatant.

It's good that Sunny did not accuse Broad sr. of racism, while his inconsistent rulings point to that. If he had, you would have wasted another article on that, in stead of the good humor you provide without fail. Hope you return to chuckling ways with the next one...

Posted by Safro on (January 5, 2010, 16:11 GMT)

Are you going to defend Broad's irrefutable ball-tampering in the test match today as well?

Posted by Omar on (January 5, 2010, 16:01 GMT)

Genius Hughes, genius. Best (and funniest) article I've read in a while, brightened up my day.

Posted by Naresh on (January 5, 2010, 15:48 GMT)

Hah - laugh as much as you want at Mr G, but I'll tell ya Mr H, both those "Broads" will now be thinking. Perhaps Broady senior will become a selector, just like "Procty" did for SA.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Andrew Hughes
Andrew Hughes is a writer and avid cricket watcher who has always retained a healthy suspicion of professional sportsmen, and like any right-thinking person rates Neville Cardus more highly than Don Bradman. His latest book is available here and here @hughandrews73

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