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Saturday, 11th June This summer there will be no T-shaped gesturing, no slow handclapping from the crowd and no sheepish-looking umpires changing their minds. Though the rest of the cricket world has gone DRS crazy, India continue to oppose it with Trott-like stubbornness, for reasons that are not entirely clear. It remains one of the sport’s enduring mysteries, like why professional sportsmen can’t play on wet grass, and how exactly a game of cricket is enhanced by having young women dancing near to it.
We know that Dhoni and Tendulkar regard the DRS with the same suspicion with which a family cat might greet the introduction of an automatic cat-food dispenser. Personally, I agree with them. I like the old-school thrill of middle-aged men in silly hats making snap decisions. Since in any given match, I don’t much mind who wins, to me, umpiring booboos are just a wobbly thread in cricket’s tapestry.
But if accuracy is your thing, then DRS works. And this summer we need it more than ever. Last time India toured these shores, there was plenty of tasty cricket, but we were also served several helpings of silliness, a side order of stupidity, and a light sprinkling of jelly beans. Any series featuring Sreesanth, Harbhajan, Prior and Broad is likely to have a touch of the school playground about it, and without DRS, we can expect toys to be ejected from prams with monotonous regularity.
Monday 13th June At a time when Asian cricket boards are being encouraged to extricate themselves from the clammy embrace of the political class, the Australian defence minister has struck a blow for his kind. He has condemned the decision to deprive Simon Katich of his central contract as an atrocity. And he’s right. Chalk one up to the politicians.
“Simon has been a fantastic player, but we felt it was right to start blooding our next opening partnership in preparation for the Ashes.”
So says Andrew Hilditch. “Next opening partnership” is an impressive phase, implying that the Aussie talent factory has turned out yet another batch of world-class top-order batsmen, and that crusty old Kat has been swept aside by progress. It is slightly less impressive when you discover that what it means in practice is a recall for Phil “Step Back And Swipe” Hughes, the world’s leading bouncer magnet.
But the problem goes beyond Hilditch and Co. Cricket Australia is clearly suffering from Sick Organisation Syndrome, the symptoms of which are an outbreak of verbal diarrhoea and a rash of fake business-style job titles. Titles such as “Head of Cricket Operations”. Surely this should be Michael Clarke? Apparently not. Presumably he is only “Head of (Onfield) Cricket Operations”.
Anyway, this is how the Head of Cricket Operations described their selection set-up.
“You’ve got to have the best people, the best structures, the best position description for them…”
Well, if you like. Or you could just get a bunch of former pros together every so often and ask them to write down a list of the best dozen Test players in the country. A list that includes Simon Katich.
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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. Providing his ransom demands continue to be met, he has promised never to write a whimsical book about village cricket. @hughandrews73