March 16, 2011

DRS

England's dew karma

Andrew Hughes
England's middle-order musketeers - Jonathan Trott, Eoin Morgan and Ian Bell, World Cup 2011, Chennai, March 15, 2011
England’s hardy warriors return after having beaten every trace of moisture out of the ground with their bats  © Getty Images
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Saturday, 12th March On Friday in Chittagong, we witnessed two well-documented natural phenomena: the early-evening accumulation of condensed water droplets, and Englishmen complaining about the weather. At the post-defeat debrief, Mr Strauss and Mr Swann sounded like marine commandos returning from some dangerous amphibious operation, rather than sportsmen who’d had to play cricket on a bit of damp grass.

Their repeated use of the word “dew” in close proximity to the word “defeat” was, by the way, entirely coincidental. Let’s be clear: in no way were they blaming this dew-soaked defeat on the prevailing dampness that made it impossible to grip the ball or bowl straight. They were not suggesting, as some might, that this was a debacle borne of dew, a dew-induced lottery or a dewy farce; a dew-feat, if you will.

But it was karma. Mr Swann has spent the winter choreographing a surprisingly irritating dance modelled on a device employed for the purpose of distributing water onto grass. So the cricket gods have devised for him a fitting torment: to spend eternity bowling at tailenders with a ball that is never quite dry, no matter how many times he swears at it or wipes it with his special handkerchief.

Sunday, 13th March The Kochi Tuskers Kerala is not just the first half of a high-quality tongue-twister, it is the newest name in the Twenty20 menagerie; an exciting new attraction occupying an enclosure next to the Matabeleland Tuskers and just around the corner from the Faisalabad Ferrets and the Adelaide Anteaters. If domestic leagues continue to expand at the current rate, scientists estimate that within a decade every animal species on the planet will have a Twenty20 team named after it.

Monday, 14th March For many years the test of a true cricket lover was the ability to explain to an outsider the rules concerning leg before wicket. And if you could get to the end before the person you were talking to passed out, you could feel justifiably pleased with yourself. Mastering the intricacies of this particular corner of cricket’s rule book was tricky, but achievable, with a little dedication and the occasional diagram.

But how would you fare if, in the course of your attempt to convert the non-cricket lover, you were asked to explain the DRS system? Even if you felt confident in your grasp of all the intricacies (and as far as I can tell, Simon Taufel is the only human being who can say that) I fear your conversational partner would expire through old age long before you even got onto the thorny subject of the 2.5 metre rule.

And DRS is having some unpleasant side effects. Players used to put up with the occasional howler out of respect for the doctrine of Umpiring Infallibility. But not any more. Thanks to DRS, the on-field umpire’s decision is no longer final. Last week, MS Dhoni was having a grumble; today the Irish captain has been fined. They may be right, they may be wrong. Who cares? Once players think they can get away with whingeing about decisions, they’ll never stop. Our game will descend into chaos. Or worse, it’ll be like Premier League football.

Andrew Hughes is a writer currently based in England

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Posted by JohnBrown on (March 30, 2011, 8:03 GMT)

Watching the first Semi in CMB and the post match conf by SL's captain - was struck by the contrasts between Eng & SL - how well SL articulates their passion and commitment to the game - whilst Eng seem lost in a sort of journeyman's myopia - scratching around for pointers - given to momentary lapses unable to conceptualise & grasp the realities of the modern world game - that cricket - like life itself - is a multi-variate model. Eng should take heed - recover it's sport if not it's sportsmanship from the dullness of it's administrators - avoid becoming the laughing stock. Good article, leaves an enduring (but un-endearing) image - of cricket's new Sisyphus - forever wiping dew & muttering epithets!

Posted by chrisolle on (March 17, 2011, 10:36 GMT)

Great article. Spot on comment by Drake. This once again confirms my view that the English Cricket team are spoiled Prima Donna's who go crying to mother everytime things go wrong. This is why I admire the Aussies and the South Africans who may fight dirty, but are in your face rather than whinge and whine. Go Sri Lanka. Win the Cup for us and win justice for the way we were robbed in 2007.

Posted by Doggy on (March 17, 2011, 8:22 GMT)

I guess English are only used to brilliant sunny weather in UK eh?

Posted by PS on (March 17, 2011, 6:18 GMT)

Looking at the posts of two English gentlemen here, I must say that English cricket fans are mature & a good sport while their cricketers whine.

Also, I am surprised that England did not have a strategy in place for late evening dew. Every team that bowls second in D/N ODI in subcontinent, is expected to have a plan B. One important factor in this game is how external conditions impact performance. And a professional cricketer is expected to deal with it.

Posted by Mushir on (March 17, 2011, 3:08 GMT)

Really dew was hurting bowlers, i hoped for a poor perfromance from Collingwood and Swann given the dew factor but Anderson never lets his buddies go down he took it all on himself by bowling a disastrous spell. Jimmy needs to be dropped he is a chocker in terms of experience for English cricket.

Posted by eddie on (March 16, 2011, 17:26 GMT)

@sid d the delhi dodos ...

Posted by akshay on (March 16, 2011, 14:29 GMT)

HAHA @ "Marine commandos returning from a dangerous amphibious operation". Right about Taufel there, you'd better say something nasty about the guy pretty soon lest you jinx the good man!

Posted by Tim on (March 16, 2011, 13:10 GMT)

Great work as always Andrew. First sentence was all that was needed. Instant classic.

Posted by Aussietough on (March 16, 2011, 12:18 GMT)

There is no doubt that dew made it harder for Swan to grip the ball. But the dubious part is Swan and others stopped asking for ball change when Bangladesh quickly started loosing wickets. English players were quite frustated with the proceeding of the game while Imrul-Sakib partnership was going on and their body language and drama with Darrel were nothing but the outcome of their viewing the unavoidability of defeat against Bangladesh. This is not the first time they are playing in Chittagong and the dew factor in Chittagong during evening is not a secret. England should have planned better to overcome the predicament and should have asked better ground preparation to the match referee in advance. But after defeat, blaming dew even partially for the result is a cowardly act.

Posted by imran on (March 16, 2011, 10:15 GMT)

Mr. Andrew Hughes, I thought your write up really to the point. Different weather conditions were, are and will be there to be encountered by the professional player. Win or lose, you got to just take it as it comes and get on with your game. One can not fight the elements, but surely can come up with plans to minimize the effect of the elements. Now, what English team is saying, it sounds like if they lose the toss for the next match, they're already defeated.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

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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