India July 13, 2011

Fletcher's grumble pie

The India coach is up to his old tricks again

Sunday, 10th July One series in and Duncan is already hitting his grumpy straps. After the Dominica Test, he came to the media party, stepped up to the plate, picked up the plate and helped himself to a steaming portion of grumble pie. Old chubby cheeks was in the firing line because his new team had offended a certain section of Indian fandom by settling for a draw. Having explained to the gentlemen of the press that he thought it was the right thing to do, he was most put out to have to repeat himself and it kind of went downhill from there. Good to see that Fletch hasn’t lost his PR touch.

But was a draw so bad? The blessed Australians are often invoked at such times, but I don’t recall AB’s team risking a series win with a brave run-chase. We would all like cricket to be played in the spirit of the Golden Age, by characters out to entertain, for whom cricket is a pleasant diversion from more serious pursuits like fox-hunting, gambling and partying. But we are in the era of the drab professional and results are everything. Those are the rules. It’s not Duncan’s fault.

Monday, 11th July Shahid Afridi is unhappy and is promising to unmask the people who are running a smear campaign against him. This is a touch melodramatic. And superfluous. When the smearing is carried out in an interview with a major newspaper, unmasking is not required. Even if the smearer had been wearing a Batman mask, and had given his name as Jazzy B Hutt, we would still have known who was behind it.

And besides the odd smear, as you might expect, Mr Butt’s interview had its share of crimes against logic. For example, the man who appointed Afridi as captain (for it was he) apparently thinks Afridi isn’t captaincy material. And then there was this:

“In my opinion, which may be considered by some people wrong,* he is responsible for losses in the fourth and fifth one-day internationals.”

Really? He may not have had the best of games in Guyana and Barbados, but he was ably assisted by at least ten other suspects, all of whom should have been in the frame for the blame. And oh yes, he won the series. Not to mention reaching the World Cup semi-final. Clearly the man was a failure. Let us hope that when Shahid becomes Chairman of the PCB in around 2031, he too has learned the art of logic abuse.

Tuesday, 12th July Mitchell Johnson doesn’t want anything to do with the BBL. My first reaction to this news was to ask my computer what the Brett Geeves was the BBL? The Big Brother Love-in? The Baked Bean Luge? The Board of Banal Linguistics? Then I remembered. Of course! It’s the Big Bash League, Australia’s answer to the question, “Is there anything we can do to make the world a more irritating place.”

That Johnson has decided to spend time learning how to hold a cricket ball rather than perform for the Perth Ponderers is refreshing, but it isn’t really news. The news is that, apparently, Cricket Australia is encouraging its players to take part in this superfluous franchised-up PR stunt. And why? Because if the top Aussie pros join in, it will help ensure the success of the competition. Clearly the financial viability of the Big Banana League is priority number one for the administrators of the world’s fifth-ranked Test nation.

* Perish the thought, sir

Andrew Hughes is a writer currently based in England

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