West Indies July 9, 2011

Chris and Kumar go their separate ways

They have the same problem but they deal with it differently

Tuesday, 5th July Chris Gayle and Kumar Sangakkara have a lot in common. They are supremely talented players whose careers have been interrupted by lesser men. But they are dealing with it in different ways. Chris composed a moving piece in 33 paragraphs based around variations on a theme (the theme being “It’s Not Fair”). Kumar looked further than his own future and made an eloquent and impassioned plea for the reform of Sri Lanka’s cricket establishment.

And the response of Sri Lanka’s sports minister to these thoughtful, reasoned and articulate remarks? He stuck to the code of administrators worldwide, cranked up the pomposity dial to maximum and let off some self-righteous steam. The most significant thing he noted about the speech? That Kumar should have sought permission from the board in order to criticise the board.

But this is worse than just a few more puffed-up men in suits and fancy moustaches, stroking their egos. This is corruption we’re talking about, you know, that “very bad thing” that we were all so determined to root out a few months ago. Have we forgotten about that? Or is corruption only a problem when it involves players?

Wednesday, 6th July Exciting developments, franchise watchers: the Kochi Katastrophes might be for sale! This news had me rooting down the back of my sofa for small change and ringing my elderly relatives to persuade them to invest their life savings. Having supported the purpley-tangerines in their debut season, only to see them blow it in a series of let-downs, flops and disasters, I thought I might as well buy the thing and sort them out.

And they can’t be that expensive. They finished eighth. They barely have any sponsors. Their gate revenue was puny, they couldn’t get a new stadium built and their shirts are revolting. Surely they’ll be going for a knock-down price? What’s that? US$ 333.33 million? Hmm. Well how much for Sreesanth’s head band?

Friday, 8th July Things are getting out of hand in the shires. The wickets are littered with dummies and the county championship’s traditional soundtrack of four hands clapping is being drowned out by John McEnroe-style protests and language that would make a Premier League footballer’s mistress blush.

So what is going on in snoozy-time land? Are they putting something in the tea? Are there bonus points available in the championship this year for petulance, swearing and generally carrying on like a three-year-old on a long car journey? No. The Professional Cricketers Association believes the problem is twofold. First, the DRS is to blame. The players, having watched cricket on telly, want to emulate their heroes, but when they make those cool T-shapes in a county game, nothing happens. Naturally, they become disillusioned.

The second problem is slightly duller and has to do with some kind of umpiring feedback thingy. The PCA’s head Nursery School Supervisor explained:

“I think it's important that the players have a mechanism for giving feedback and that they have the confidence in it so that they don't get frustrated.”

The poor dears.

But why exactly are players commenting on umpires? Do schoolchildren fill in questionnaires rating the performance of their headmaster? Umpires are not in the service industry; they don’t need to be sensitive to the needs of their clients. They are enforcers. They are there because: a) the players can’t be trusted to play nicely and b) the players don’t know the rules.

I suggest that, in addition to fines, bans and stiff talkings-to, errant pros should be forced to write, “I must not undermine the umpire’s authority,” a hundred times on the pavilion blackboard. And an hour or two on the naughty step wouldn’t hurt either.

Andrew Hughes is a writer currently based in England

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • testli5504537 on July 13, 2011, 9:01 GMT

    As several readers have correctly pointed out, RP Singh was not in the Kochi photo in this post. The photo has now been changed. Thanks to everyone who pointed out the error

  • testli5504537 on July 11, 2011, 16:10 GMT

    Great article!! tho why in the world would u want Sreesanth's headband, didn't you know thats how the mothership communicates with him??? when the little red dot glows on it, you know they're putting sublime messages thru to his head: "You MUST dance until unbearable to watch!"

  • testli5504537 on July 11, 2011, 10:12 GMT

    Maybe the PCA should give the players a proper electric guitar and a loudspeaker that goes up to 11

  • testli5504537 on July 11, 2011, 9:30 GMT

    Brilliant move by Sanga and a expeted rebuff from Lankan Sports Minister. Where does that leave Lankan cricket now?

  • testli5504537 on July 11, 2011, 0:14 GMT

    Sreesanth's head band would cost 3.33 million dollars.

  • testli5504537 on July 10, 2011, 5:58 GMT

    enjoyed this article...spot on with your views.

  • testli5504537 on July 9, 2011, 20:33 GMT

    "Do schoolchildren fill in questionnaires rating the performance of their headmaster?"

    Unfortunately the answer to this is YES! Pupil assessment is becoming an ever-more important part of measuring teacher quality. Not all teachers are keen on the idea!

    In some schools in England, schoolkids are now involved in the interview and selection process for new staff. Wasn't like that in my day!

    And in the USA it is considered one of the reasons many American colleges are slipping in academic standards. Instructors are rated primarily by anonymous student questionnaires (rather than by a system of inspection of their lectures by qualified educationalists) with a big impact on their career path and pay. Research has shown college kids give higher marks to lecturers who, they feel, set easier class tests. Now guess whether class tests are getting easier or harder?

    Respect for authority is dimishing all over the world. No wonder the umps are no longer "always right" - but I wish they were!

  • testli5504537 on July 9, 2011, 20:13 GMT

    sagga ur the best !!

  • testli5504537 on July 9, 2011, 19:18 GMT

    Did you even read Chris' statement? He's not talking about a corrupt board, but a malicious one. This statement came after months of interactions not only involving Chris, but Chanderpaul, Sarwan, Benn, F. Edwards and Taylor. Players who have been the backbone of the WI team were being asked to retire, despite their performance, and other players being brought into the playing XI without so much as a good FC season. This isn't corruption but nepotism. WICB isn't governed by a single government, but voted in by the regional boards. Numerous attempts have been made by WIPA and Chris, but the WICB wants Chris to take back statements and apologise.

  • testli5504537 on July 9, 2011, 17:10 GMT

    'I suggest that, in addition to fines, bans and stiff talkings-to, errant pros should be forced to write, “I must not undermine the umpire’s authority,” a hundred times on the pavilion blackboard. And an hour or two on the naughty step wouldn’t hurt either'. So, what exactly is UDRS by the way Andrew, if it is not undermining the umpires authority by saying diplomatically that 'I don't accept the umpires decision, so I want a replay'?

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