World Cup 2011 March 8, 2011

Thoughts of a stone-thrower

Andrew Hughes reckons the words“chucking” and “heavy” are in such a person’s mind before commiting the heinous act

Saturday, 5th March In the wake of the attack on the West Indian and Bangladeshi coaches, the ICC have acted swiftly. Speaking to journalists today, a man named Haroon, the organisation’s new Head of Homilies, defused the crisis with a pithy proverb:

“Rocks and stones may dent your coach but pebbles are not a problem.”

He went on to demonstrate, with the aid of geological samples and his grandson’s school ruler, that the flying objects which rattled Chris Gayle’s window were not stones at all. That’s right, in their post-match anger, the rock-flingers of Dhaka, perhaps mindful that the eyes of the world were upon them, had, according to Haroon, eschewed the lumpier ammunition in favour of some lightweight throwing pebbles.

Now I don’t know how a stone thrower thinks. I’ve never had cause to hurl a solid thing at a vehicle because one team didn’t beat another team at cricket. But I would imagine that an individual so inclined would not be picky about his choice of projectile. He has an idea, an idea of chucking something heavy, something heavy that he can pick up, and so he casts about for any object answering to that description.

In any case, it isn’t the size of the missile that matters, it’s how hard you fling it. An ornamental stone, even one of those pretty polished ones you might bring back from the beach, can, if correctly flung, do a fair amount of damage. Look what happened to Goliath. No doubt as as he lay dying on the ground, he was surrounded by his fellow Philistines, telling him to get up and stop making such a fuss about a little pebble.

Pebbles, stones, Faberge eggs, boulders, bricks or porcelain hippopotami; the point is that they are hard and heavy and can make a nasty mess of a window, a pair of expensive sunglasses or an innocent nose. And we can only imagine the furore if someone had thrown so much as a handful of gravel in the general direction of an ICC official’s Mercedes. It would be lifetime bans all round and the tournament cancelled out of respect for the memory of Mr Lorgat’s broken wing mirror.

Monday, 7th March Some people think today’s game between Canada and Kenya was a motion-going-through-exercise of the most tedious kind; a prime example of the futility of the 14-team format. Well they are wrong. It was thoroughly watchable. And as an occasional viewer of county cricket, I felt right at home; a deserted stadium, two teams full of players I’d never heard of, and a reassuring dose of amateurism.

And just like county cricket, it was all about which team was the most bothered about losing. After a scrappy encounter, Canada deservedly prevailed, but we had some fun along the way. Pick of the highlights was Ruvindu Gunasekera forgetting where he was, going for a walk and being stumped by the keeper at the second attempt. “That was stupid,” was Ian Chappell’s verdict. Then Jimmy Hansra chipped gently to mid-on and Seren Waters dropped it. “That was not difficult at all,” said Ian Bishop.

As if that wasn’t enough, the viewer could also enjoy Steve Tikolo’s choice of eyewear, possibly the most cheerful pair of sunglasses ever seen on a cricket field, the kind of shades that would make you happy the moment you put them on, and some of the most splendidly half-hearted fielding you are likely to see outside of an Indian practice session. Yes, it was mostly awful, but then you could say that about any of England’s recent World Cup campaigns and no one’s suggesting they shouldn’t be allowed to take part next time.

Andrew Hughes is a writer currently based in England