July 27, 2010

Aussie rules sportsmanship, and another KP with outrageous hair

Notes from Headingley and the Caribbean – how’s that for international?

Saturday 24th July We didn’t really learn anything about Pakistan during this mini-series. Two captains, a big defeat and an unnecessarily nervy win. Same old, same old. Instead I spent most of my time observing the Australians, a breed of cricketer I find fascinating. Why don’t they give up? Every other nation on earth would have gone through the motions this morning. Where does it come from? It certainly isn’t a genetic inheritance. The English way is to give up properly and give up early, before mounting a completely futile rearguard action when all chance of victory has gone.

Australia’s captain, too, is endlessly fascinating, like a piece of abstract art. I have come up with many theories to explain the enigma that is Ricky, and my latest is that his whole public persona is a total sham, a facade. Have you ever seen Ricky smile? It is a lovely thing, a boyish grin that lights up his whole gnarly face. No one seeing that grin could fail to warm to the little fella. Yet he goes about in public wearing a mask of humourless disgruntlement, through which compliments for victorious opponents are squeezed out of the corner of his mouth, and thanks to which he comes across as pricklier than a hedgehog wearing a cactus hat. Smile, Ricky, and the world may smile with you. Or at least they might not swear at you so much.

We were also granted another seminar on Australian sporting ethics. Michael Hussey claimed a catch off Kamran Akmal. Under the rules of the game, the claiming of a catch amounts to nothing. In Aussie World, when a bloke says he caught it, the other bloke has to take the first bloke’s word. Why he should do this is not entirely clear; that’s just the way it is. On the other hand, a bloke is entitled to remain at the crease even if there is a chunk of his bat missing from where the edge was removed and everyone in the surrounding province heard the noise.

The two situations are not entirely the same and there is a thread of logic there, but it is a twisty, fragile thing that can often be mistaken for mere self-interest. Ramiz Raja thought Hussey definitely didn’t catch it. Shane Warne thought that he definitely did. Both reached and expressed their certainty on the matter within seconds, yet both also admitted that the pictures were inconclusive. Meanwhile on the radio Ian Chappell said he liked the idea of accepting a fielder’s word but he never would himself. Perhaps it would be best, after all, if we let the umpires decide.

Sunday 25th July T&T are the most professional outfit in the Caribbean, which, admittedly, isn’t quite as much of a compliment as it might once have been, but it was enjoyable to catch up with Dwayne Bravo, both Gangas, the indefatigable Dave Mohammed, and one Keiron Pollard, international superstar. Today the wealthier of the KPs was sporting an elaborate coiffure, into which, as an aide memoire, a helpful barber had shaved the names of all five teams he is currently employed by.

The big guy was having a great time. Towards the end of his second over he stood at the start of his run-up wearing an enormous grin. Good on him, I thought, he’s clearly enjoying his work. His captain, however, did not exhibit similar signs of amusement, perhaps having on his mind the 20 runs that had come from the preceding five balls. I suppose, given Pollard’s multiple-contract lifestyle, there will always be some who mutter about his commitment to any particular cause; even to his home island.

Happily, he was able to dispel any lingering cynicism later in the game by smashing 50 from a ridiculously small number of deliveries; a half-century that included a dilscoop, some outrageously nonchalant sixes, and at least one lost ball. More importantly, he rescued his team from what seemed like inevitable defeat. He may not be a proper cricketer, but he isn’t bad.

Andrew Hughes is a writer currently based in England

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • testli5504537 on September 6, 2011, 14:52 GMT

    This atircle went ahead and made my day.

  • testli5504537 on August 19, 2010, 7:55 GMT

    Technology and nothing else should be depended upon when you are playing the Aussies, and only the Aussies.

  • testli5504537 on August 5, 2010, 16:29 GMT

    well..the replays were inconclusive..so the benefit of doubt goes to the batsman..remember wen Michael clarke claimed a catch off ganguly and bucknor took his word!!replays showed that ganguly was not out!!bucknor was replaced next match after this incident..rite?

  • testli5504537 on July 30, 2010, 7:20 GMT

    hmmmmm, one should have seen the expression on mike hussey's face as he thought he had caught akmal, it was as if like ordering the batsman, what on earth are you staying in the crease for, go to changing rooom. i still recollect how micheal clarke claimed a catch that didn't exist when India toured down under last time. Sportsman spirit ,thy name is never to be linked with aussies

  • testli5504537 on July 29, 2010, 1:57 GMT

    Ian Chappell once took a fielder's word for it, a South African by the name of Tiger Lance on the S.A. tour in 1969/70. The umpire didn't make a decision and Chappell said "Did you catch it Tiger?" and Lance replied "Yes". When later queried by a team mate, who had seen the ball bounce into his hands, Tiger replied "He didn't ask me how many times it bounced first"! This kind of gamesmanship has being going on in Cricket ever since the men of Hambledon Cricket Club decided to put a third stump in and to think that it's just Australian players who "indulge" is naive and juvenile and smack of lazy journalism.

  • testli5504537 on July 28, 2010, 11:28 GMT

    KP is a proper cricketer, he has a first class average of 37.62, he plays 20/20 because that is what pays the bills and what he is most identified with. He plays straight , he is a great hooker and puller, he is a fantastic fielder, okay bowler and a great team man, can this be said of many of the so called proper cricketers ?

  • testli5504537 on July 28, 2010, 10:52 GMT

    haha can you guys please not say anything about Ponting because we aussies really respect him, despite what might happen and we would like you to do the same. i dont ask you to like him but please just be respectful for everything the man has done. :)

  • testli5504537 on July 28, 2010, 7:13 GMT

    ummm.... u got one thing wrong, ramiz raja said its a 50-50. he dint say he definitely dint catch it. but an excellent article otherwise.

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