February 20, 2011

World Cup 2011

The ICC's fight against inanity

Andrew Hughes
Brendon McCullum speaks to the media after a practice session, Chennai, February 14, 2011
"And instead of autographs, we have taken to scribbling 'Kiwis are winners' on fans' memorabilia"  © AFP


Tuesday, 15th January Bearing in mind how well the wars on Terror, Obesity and Drugs have gone, it is probably just as well that the ICC hasn’t officially declared war on Corruption. But even if they haven’t announced the commencement of hostilities, they are pretty damn miffed with corruption. Make no mistake, if corruption sent them an invitation to its wedding, not only would the ICC not go, they wouldn’t even bother RSVP-ing.

Instead the ICC is running a kind of stealth guerrilla campaign against corruption. Today they attempted to disrupt the march of naughtiness by banning players from taking mobile phones into the dressing room. And not just phones. The list of banned dressing-room accoutrements include laptops, carrier pigeons, semaphore flags, plastic cups on string, and those blankets that the Sioux used to send smoke signals.

And, most gloriously of all, there is to be a ban on in-game Twittering. This has little to do with corruption but is a commendable attempt to stem the tide of inanity, profanity and banality that washes towards us in ever higher waves from the general direction of professional cricket. The message to players is clear: Shut up. Stop talking. Say nothing more. Zip it and keep it in a state of zippedness.

Wednesday, 16th January The news that Salman Butt has been hired by a television company may have caused a certain degree of tea spillage and marmalade-themed spluttering at the Lorgat breakfast table, but the whole thing is a big misunderstanding. I hardly think that, having been found guilty of perverting the course of cricket and tainting the game, Mr Butt would be employed to offer us his sporting observations.

No, he has in fact been hired to handle the catering. Butt Ices, the leading purveyor of frozen dairy products to the cricket industry, will be keeping commentators and studio staff refreshed throughout the World Cup and beyond. I understand that his prices are very reasonable and that Salman the Ice-Cream Man is also available at short notice for children’s parties, embassy balls and court appearances.

Friday, 18th January More evidence that the Black Caps are taking this cricket business far too seriously came today in the form of an interview with one of New Zealand’s leading semiologists and the winner of the Most Tattooed Bicep Award 2008, one Brendon McCullum. Switch off your mobiles, put the mongoose back in its cage and send your children out into the street, you’ll need to concentrate to decode this one fully.

“Someone has to flick a switch, somewhere along the line we have to get ourselves across the finishing line and with a W in the column.”

Right, so there’s a line and then there’s another line, electricity is involved at some point and the letter W. The column may refer to Nelson’s Column, but I’m not sure. Maybe if we read on, it will make sense.

“We can’t have that mental blockage or mental baggage heading into this World Cup. We have to ditch that quickly.”

I hope he didn’t have too much trouble at the airport. “Anything to declare, Mr McCullum?” “No, just this mental baggage.” “Did you pack it yourself, sir?”

“We are going to have to borrow some confidence to stare down those situations and dream that we are capable of achieving success in those moments.”

If I’m not much mistaken, that’s the second verse to Norway’s 1978 Eurovision Song Contest entry. But what can it all mean? As far as I can tell, the keys to World Cup success are mental baggage, lines, electricity and confidence rental. Perhaps ESPNcricinfo readers will fare better. If you can work out what Brendon is banging on about, get in touch. A virtual pat on the back for the most convincing answer.

Andrew Hughes is a writer currently based in England

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Posted by Rahul on (February 21, 2011, 7:22 GMT)

Wonderful Read. Loved the kiwi bit! But whatever's said, you have got to love Brendon. The guy always has a twinkle in his eye and a spring in his step. Maybe that's what the problem is. Maybe he's suppressing bad, bad, BAD memories of over the last 6 months. My shrink tells me that's bad, but I kinda think she's a nut job herself!

Posted by ebenezer on (February 21, 2011, 5:07 GMT)

“Someone has to flick a switch, somewhere along the line we have to get ourselves across the finishing line and with a W in the column.”

Brendon is talking about someone (rather it should be everyone in the NZ team) stepping up, performing and finishing the game as winners. W referring to wins as shown in most result tables - P: Played, W: Won, L: Lost, NRR: Net run rate and so on.

Posted by pj3000 on (February 21, 2011, 3:23 GMT)

At the risk of inviting further confusion from Mr McCullum, can he clarify that by a 'W in the column' he means: a) the 'Wins' column b) the 'Wickets' column or c) the 'Wides' column?

Posted by HoustonsProblem on (February 20, 2011, 20:31 GMT)

Ah ... good one!! Enjoyed the humor. :)

Posted by Leonard on (February 20, 2011, 16:22 GMT)

A virtual pat on YOUR back for spelling "fare better" as "fair better". That said, it was a very funny read. Thank you!

Posted by Jim on (February 20, 2011, 14:33 GMT)

Ha ha, all these sections are hilarious. Love this. Also loved Aaron's comment, which is very true indeed! What I think about Brendon's press meet is that he has confused this world cup tour with a vacation tour to India: He talks about fi(ni)shing lines, c(onfidence)ar rentals, switch hits, traffic blockages and extra baggages!

Posted by OzHorse on (February 20, 2011, 13:39 GMT)

I think what it boils down to is to let the opposition batsmen get to milestones like 50s and 100s. This gives the opposition confidence...then NZ can "borrow" some of that confidence as when one of them leaves their crease for the congratulatory hug or fist-touch, run them out.

Posted by Thomas on (February 20, 2011, 12:06 GMT)

McCullum's a cricket player, not a public speaker.... so I will forgive him for not being an expert with his words. You as a journalist however, should "FARE" better with your words.

Never write off the Kiwi's in a major tournament, we have enough match winners in the side to beat anybody on our day. Baz is right, their main problem is upstairs [by that I mean the mental baggage, if you need a translation].

Posted by Satyen on (February 20, 2011, 10:59 GMT)

That was very funny, the McCullum bit specially. I suppose the electrical and travelling problems have been forgotten with that canter of a match they had today. Forgive him for being muddled in the head, they have been moving around with that baggage since quite some time...

Posted by srkrishnan on (February 20, 2011, 10:15 GMT)

Lol funny!

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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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