November 17, 2010

Better performance through blind panic

Andrew Hughes
Sreesanth watches Brendon McCullum depart after dismissing him for 225, India v New Zealand, 2nd Test, Hyderabad, 5th day, November 16, 2010
Sreesanth: Portrait of a Fruitcake as a Man of Restraint  © AFP


Saturday, 13th November Diligently reading through the pre-Ashes news each morning is like taking a regular dose of cod liver oil. It’s hard to swallow, it leaves a nasty taste in your mouth, and it has no discernible benefits. I know players have certain media obligations, but every now and then couldn’t they just say “No comment” rather than straining for soundbites? Today we heard from the England captain, who appears to have fallen out with the English language and is treating it most roughly:

“The last thing we can do is get complacent and pat ourselves on the back, because we are ramping up our preparations.”

Now admittedly I didn’t go to Radley, but even an uneducated oaf like what I am can spot that this is devoid of meaning, a reheated soup of unrelated phrases and gristly jargon. Ramping? It sounds like something you might do to male sheep. Or possibly an extreme outdoor sport. But I have no idea what it has to do with preparing for a game of cricket, unless the plan is for Mr Strauss and chums to pile into a truck and drive as fast as they can towards a sharp incline. In which case, carry on chaps.

Sunday 14th November Tendulkar isn’t bad with a bat, and one or two of the others know which end to hold, but frankly there’s only one Indian batsman we want to watch these days. Mr Harbhajan Singh is an unstoppable force. He combines the wide-eyed audacity of a tailender who keeps getting lucky with the swagger of an undefeated boxer. No matter how fast or wily the bowling, he just keeps swinging until your eyebrows can rise no further and you have no words left to express your surprise.

Monday, 15th November You might think that naming an enormous squad 10 days before the first Test is a tad premature and even suggestive of an element of indecision on the part of Cricket Australia. But you’d be wrong. By out-selecting Geoff Miller’s panel by 17 names to 16, Chappell and Co have secured an important early edge. With 6% more players to choose from, Australia are already ahead of the game. But there’s more to it than that. This isn’t just a selection process. It’s a psychological experiment.

All those extra spinners and middle-order batsmen are there for a reason: to put the wind up Messrs Hussey, North and Hauritz. Will it work? Ricky thinks so. He says that nerves bring out the best in his players. But if that’s so, why stop there? If being nervous makes them better players, think how much greater they would be if they were absolutely terrified. What about suspending Nathan Hauritz above a tank of tarantulas for 10 days or tampering with the brakes on Michael Hussey’s car? It’s the new frontier in sports motivation: better performance through blind panic.

Tuesday, 16th November Now I know that Sreesanth isn’t everyone’s favourite petulant fast-medium no-ball merchant. But even Sreephobes could not deny that the man makes for great television. By the time I tuned in to the second Test in Hyderabad, McCullum already had his double-century and everyone was losing interest. Everyone, that is, apart from Sree. In he ran, tearing to the crease like a schoolkid pumped up on sugary sweets doing a Dennis Lillee impersonation. Thanks to this loose-limbed, face-pulling, big-haired, permanently chattering disco diva, I carried on watching a game that was already over. For the sake of Test cricket, we need more Sreesanths.

Andrew Hughes is a writer currently based in England

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Posted by dersh on (November 18, 2010, 16:36 GMT)

sreesanth can play atleast 50 test he is a good entertainer tooo

Posted by sunil k viswam on (November 18, 2010, 10:26 GMT)

That's Sreeshanth.He is full of energy.tries hard on every delivery so that others also would be inspired! good attitude to keep test cricket lively throughout.He would be perfect and matured soon to control some times over aggression

Posted by anish on (November 18, 2010, 9:44 GMT)

i luv sreesanth. how can one not?

Posted by Jachin Daniel on (November 18, 2010, 5:45 GMT)

How in the world did you get this pic of Sreesanth's.. This is so unlike him :-D

Posted by dinoop on (November 18, 2010, 5:20 GMT)

wel done sree keep it up ...i am a hard fan of you...

Posted by Vijay Kavasseri on (November 18, 2010, 5:00 GMT)

Brilliant description of Sreesanth. Could not control my laughter. Fruitcake caption absolutely hilarious.

Posted by pontings_nemesis on (November 18, 2010, 4:12 GMT)

Nice but we originally planned to give the poms a 5-0 bashing but we might let them win one this time considering how out of form we are !!

Posted by Vikram on (November 18, 2010, 3:58 GMT)

rofl...@ Sreesanth's face

Posted by Andrew on (November 17, 2010, 19:40 GMT)

Hilarious..the Andrew Strauss bit especially.

Posted by Raktim on (November 17, 2010, 19:25 GMT)

very well said mate!!!

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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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