Ashes December 12, 2010

How Australia should pick their spinner

The way they'd pick a shoe for Andrew Hilditch

Wednesday, 8th December I’m not convinced by this wheeze of the IPL’s to swap all the players around. For one thing, certain players have become synonymous with their team. Can you imagine the Kings XI without Sreesanth? Or Chennai without Napoleon Einstein? Worse still, there is the danger that Sourav Ganguly might not be playing for a franchise in IPL4, which would be unforgivable and quite possibly illegal. I can understand why Kolkata might want to get rid of all of their players, but not Sourav, surely.

I do, however, see the merit in giving this idea a try in international cricket. Every January, the ICC could hold a ceremony at which all Test players have to put their passports into The Passport Randomising Machine. By mixing things up, IPL-style, the tired old format will be rejuvenated at a stroke. Who knows what we could end up with? Harbhajan playing for Australia? Ricky Ponting the captain of India? South Africans playing for South Africa?

Thursday, 9th December The West Indian tour of Sri Lanka has ended a little earlier than planned.

“We can’t control the weather,” admitted Mr Ernest Hilaire, whilst standing in a puddle right up to his middle, holding a Viv Richards umbrella. It wasn’t for the want of trying. The WICB had issued legal proceedings against the Almighty on the grounds that the incessant Sri Lankan downpour constituted a breach of contract, as set out in the book of Genesis.

However, despite a personal intervention from Mr Hilaire, who flew up in his helicopter to address the weather via a loud hailer, the clouds continued to permit rain to fall and an irresponsible lightning strike singed his official executive tie. Having thus failed to successfully organise the meteorological conditions, the WICB must now concentrate on failing to organise West Indian cricket instead.

Friday, 10th December Selecting a spinner is like choosing a pair of shoes. But more specifically, it is like choosing a pair of shoes for a middle-aged man. A spinner should be picked, not because he is fashionable, but for his potential to endure a regular pounding on flat surfaces without falling apart. A spinner must be worn in over a period of time, he must be given time to mould himself to the shape that the team needs and, if he starts to sag a little, he shouldn’t be thrown out, but repaired. *

Andrew Hilditch, however, is the Imelda Marcos of selectors. Sometimes even the rumour of a shiny new spinner is enough to get him reaching for the telephone. Mr Doherty is the latest hot new item to end up in the bag for the charity shop and who knows how long Steven Smith or Michael Beer will last? Mr Hilditch would be best served by sticking to a sturdy brand, like the Hauritz. It may not turn heads (or indeed cricket balls) but it won’t let you down. Much.

* My thanks to Hogwash Publications for allowing me to reproduce this theory from John Buchanan’s bestseller, “Unlikely Analogies for Cricket Coaches Volume One”. Readers interested in pursuing this metaphor further may wish to read the same author’s idea that coaching cricketers is very much like repairing shoes, as outlined in the seminal, “Let’s Talk Cobblers: The Buchanan Method”.

Andrew Hughes is a writer currently based in England