ICC World Twenty20 May 5, 2010

Stiff upper lip, old boy

We’ll have none of that whingeing, you hear Mr Collingwood?

Douglas Jardine: not the sort to complain about rain rules © Getty Images

There’s nothing we Brits like better than a good old moan. Our current general election (which I am assured will mercifully reach a conclusion this Thursday) has once again turned out to be nothing more than a licence for us to indulge ourselves in our favourite national pastime. Everything is awful, the country is in a mess, there’s nothing on telly, we’re all going to hell in a handcart and so on.

It was not all that surprising, therefore, that on Monday evening one of England’s several cricket captains was seen on our television screens complaining in the rain, thus bringing together the two salient features of British life.* It did not matter that his chaps had batted in an impressive and entirely un-British manner or that they still only had to be beat Ireland to go through. He had a chance to moan and he seized it.

Now, I do have a smidgen more sympathy for Collingwood, P this time around than I did last summer. If you recall, back in June, England won the toss against the West Indies on a day on which rain was as inevitable as a Ray Price sledge. But rather than batting second, the reluctant skipper chose instead to bat first and moan later. At least this time he could argue that it was not his fault that he ended up in the field trying to defend a modest total against a team with all their wickets intact.

But hey, them’s the rules. Of all the methods that human ingenuity has thus far been able to invent, the jolly old Duckworth-Lewis is to the fore. There may be a case for a little tinkering with it here or there. But it is unfortunate that we only hear these impassioned pleas for mathematical recalibration of the D and L just minutes after defeat has arrived via that very method. If, Mr Collingwood, you have any suggestions for improvement, I’m sure the ICC will be delighted to read your proposals. Meanwhile, belt up and get on with it.

This also serves as a timely reminder of what the game would be like if the players were in control: one long, tedious squabble punctuated by whingeing. Nobody likes to lose, of course. I don’t like losing. I didn’t like losing when I was five years old and I made good and sure that everyone around me knew about it. But you get used to it. It is odd, then, when so many of the general public can adapt themselves to such an inevitable phenomenon, that sportsmen, who after all spend a good proportion of their lives losing, remain as five-year-olds where defeat is concerned.

The England captain would do well to remember another British tradition - not, perhaps as enduring as our predilection for moaning nor as dangerous as our cooking, but important nonetheless. It is the tradition of the stiff upper lip, a tradition preserved to this day in an annex of the British Museum wherein are displayed the pickled upper lips of Wellington, Marlborough, Churchill and many other notables. So play up and play the game, Collingwood, and in the meantime, I have sent you a parcel containing a can of easy-spray facial starch and a biography of Douglas Jardine.

* (It is also a little known fact that the song “Singing in the Rain” was originally an English folk dirge, sung by bitter old men as they trudged along the banks of the River Tees. It was known locally as “Complainin’ in the Rain”. Sadly the American version, for all its many qualities, does not accurately convey the misery and pessimism of the original).

Andrew Hughes is a writer currently based in England

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • testli5504537 on November 10, 2012, 23:44 GMT

    Whatever gave you the idea that cricketers are paid more than folboatl players? Quite the opposite in fact,as many folboatl players get tens of millions in contracts, which leaves the cricketers way behind. Added to this their sponsors money you have some seriously rich young men! Look at David Beckham how much he gets?

  • testli5504537 on May 9, 2010, 2:28 GMT

    It's not the fault of the D/L system in 20 over games....it;s because it is being applied to 5 overs......a situation d/l was not designed for. AS Nashdwaj said, too little data for decisions to be made that make sence.

  • testli5504537 on May 8, 2010, 13:34 GMT

    What Collingwood said was right.No team can afford to lose like this after scoring close to 200, that too in a big stage like the World cup. Instead of castigating him why not take a critical look at D/L algorithms.There is a definite need for fair and equitable system.

  • testli5504537 on May 8, 2010, 10:01 GMT

    TD_160, if Punter is exactly the same why did Mr Duckworth or was it Mr Lewis come out and say that the only time D/L had been publicly complained about by a captain, it had been Colly both times?

    Get a grip.

    Mind you, playing a already slightly silly format over 6 overs really is a pile of nonsense. That has nothing to do with D/L though.

  • testli5504537 on May 7, 2010, 21:00 GMT

    TD_160: Ponting exactly the same! Don't know what games you have been watching mate but Ponting never makes excuses for failure based on the rules of the game being wrong.

    Would like to see how many T20 games have been affected by the weather and decided by D/L. I suspect too many and that the games should be played out to their intended length or abandoned - TV will never allow this, of course.

  • testli5504537 on May 7, 2010, 19:11 GMT

    Stiff upper lip syndrome is the biggest load of bull I have ever heard of. I cannot understand how the English, the perrinial whingers can at the same time have 'stiffies' up their lips.

  • testli5504537 on May 7, 2010, 17:30 GMT

    anything less than 20 overs each is a farce, its not cricket in my mind. might as well play baseball.

    how can you bat for less than 6 overs and win a cricket match!!?? its a "no-result" and move on.

  • testli5504537 on May 7, 2010, 17:08 GMT

    Ha ha...good one, Andrew. I especially liked the part about "complaining in the rain", the two salient features of British life. :-) Btw, this is Raja from CF - but you probably already knew that. :-)

  • testli5504537 on May 7, 2010, 12:41 GMT

    collingwood is a cry baby

  • testli5504537 on May 7, 2010, 12:16 GMT

    Life's a cycle Mr.Collingwood, didnt England get thru to the 1992 World Cup final because of the D/L method. Anything which goes round comes back ! So stop complaining & get on with it

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