April 2, 2011

World Cup 2011

Thank god for Twenty20

Andrew Hughes
Ricky Ponting and Sachin Tendulkar have a chat, India v Australia, 2nd quarter-final, Ahmedabad, World Cup 2011, March 24, 2011
"I know Ricky, no more funeral faces, excuses at press conferences and selection dilemmas. Isn't it liberating?"  © Associated Press
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Tuesday, March 29th Fast bowling comes as naturally to the human body as trying to carry a baby hippopotamus on your head whilst hopping backwards up a down escalator. We like to romanticise it, we talk about a fast bowler gliding on air to the wicket or accelerating gracefully, easily, like a panther in pursuit of prey. But close up, it’s a brutal business; all twisting tendons, splintering bone and grinding cartilage.

For Shaun Tait the journey to the crease is an agonising one. You and I couldn’t feel that much pain unless we spilt beer on the shoes of a nightclub bouncer. Even then, we’d probably only try it the once. But Tait does it again and again and again. He’s like one of those magnificent steam-powered contraptions you see at English county fairs, an impressive feat of engineering that could fall apart at any time.

Thank goodness then for Twenty20, a sanctuary where we can see endangered cricketers in their natural habitat, and where we hope Shaun enjoys many more years of stump-shattering, sightscreen-denting, helmet-clanging slingery.

Wednesday, March 30th
Ricky Ponting is to play on after handing in his stripes. This has not been normal procedure for decommissioned Australian captains of recent vintage who, having overindulged themselves at the banquet of victory, have tended to leave the table altogether lest they explode in a messy shower of success, champagne and baggy-green material. But Ricky has been dining on scraps of late, rooting in the bins of world cricket for whatever he can find, and he’s still hungry.

So now that we know he wasn’t the new Allan Border, what kind of captain was he? Well, his coin-flipping technique was much admired. He looked smart in a blazer. And he had the ability to lose his temper in any situation… Ah look, let’s be honest, he wasn’t a great captain. But that’s not his fault. For a long time he was as good as he needed to be. His main line of work is demolishing bowlers. And he’s still pretty good at that.

Thursday, March 31st I don’t envy Ashish Nehra. Contemplating what it will be like to take the field in a World Cup final must be a little like trying to come to terms with the infinity of the universe. It probably makes your head hurt and causes you to feel like a tiny pathetic speck of dust in the vacuum-cleaner showroom of existence. On top of that, he has a broken finger. At some point in the next 48 hours he might have to decide: play or don’t play. What would you do? Wouldn’t it be selfish to take the field if you aren’t at your best? Wouldn’t you be letting your team-mates down?

A broken finger probably hurts like hell. It will probably inhibit his ability to field. He might not even be able to catch the ball. But it’s the World Cup final. Look at Murali. He wouldn’t even be able to get to the ball in order not to catch it, but you try stopping the little guy with the wonky wrist from taking the field. His hamstrings are tighter than a whalebone corset, his groin is dodgy, his knee doesn’t work and it almost certainly hurts when he does that. It’s the World Cup final. He’ll be playing.

Andrew Hughes is a writer currently based in England

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Posted by Luke on (August 15, 2011, 8:02 GMT)

@Ashish Das: You quite clearly don't get the pun about Murali. In his roundabout, understated english way Hughes is paying Murali (especially his work ethic and attitude) a massive, massive compliment.

Posted by Luke on (August 15, 2011, 7:59 GMT)

Feel like you summed up Punter pretty well, as a captain good as he needed to be until it wasn't enough. Honestly can't help feeling his record would be so much better if he had never been made captain, it should have been Warne or Gilchrist without a doubt.

Posted by aziz sheikh on (April 2, 2011, 10:26 GMT)

though the aussies has lost the WC but the i still belive in Punter he is a best captian i have seen..one thing in cricket when any team win a match they make history but the aus make history by losing match..other might be play for money but the aus play for nation n pride.

Posted by Anonymous on (April 2, 2011, 10:07 GMT)

Ponting was a terrible captain who engendered no respect around the world. As a batsman, awesome, but as a captain awful. When he became captain he didn't have to do much as he still had McGrath, Warne, Hayden, Langer, etc. When they all retired he needed to be like Allan Border and that was not in him.

Posted by Ragerramjet on (April 2, 2011, 9:28 GMT)

Whatever is said about Ricky Ponting, one must agree he too was one of the great captains, with a great trackrecord, that captained Australia. It is not his fault that he could not shine as much, recently, with a new team was given to him to lead, unlike when he had and led some outstanding Australian bowlers and batsmen. I am sure as an ex-captain and sans the pressure he would do better with the bat, like so many in the past and Mahela (SL), Sachin (Ind) at present.

Posted by MS BUKHARI SHAH on (April 2, 2011, 7:52 GMT)

I REALLY APPRECIATE THIS.

Posted by Andrew Leonard on (April 2, 2011, 7:27 GMT)

Andrew Hughes you haven't a clue. Shaun Tait wouldn't know hard work if it bit him on the backside. If he could find a competition where you bowled one ball he would retire from 20/20. He can't even cope with ODIs.

Posted by Ashish Das on (April 2, 2011, 7:12 GMT)

I got the pun about Murali ....& it's not funny. If only Swann or anybody of the current ilk was half as good as him inspite of Murali's hamstring, groin, knee & what not - the pun would have made more sense.

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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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