An odd cricket ritual
Wednesday, 17th August The Champions League will soon be with us. But this year the ECB (motto: “Show Me The Money”) are not going to let any counties play in it unless they are paid before the tournament. Quite right. You should always get the money upfront, then if something goes wrong, and you don’t actually turn up or, to take a hypothetical example, the person paying you turns out to be an international fraudster, you can always hide it under your mattress and deny everything.
Thursday, 18th August While watching Sreesanth pretend that he wanted to throw the ball at KP today, it occurred to me that this is one of modern cricket’s odder rituals. Why would you pretend to do something that you almost certainly aren’t going to do, that even if you did wouldn’t achieve any purpose, and for which you’d have to apologise immediately?
If the intention is to frighten the batsmen, there are surely better ways. You could for instance, tell him that you’re in love with him and that you want to stop the madness for a moment so you can share a hug. You could bring out a microphone and invite him to say a few words. You could warn him about the tarantula on his shoulder.
But threatening to throw a ball at a man kitted out like a particularly safety-conscious samurai warrior seems a rather futile pursuit. You know you probably won’t, and he knows you know you probably won’t, and we all know that he knows that you know that you probably won’t, so knock it off, get back to your mark and bowl.
Friday, 19th August Introspection is the fashion in Antipodean circles right now. Since the last Ashes, Australian cricket has locked itself in the bedroom with the curtains closed listening to the Smiths and now the Big Australian Review of Everything (subtitled “Heaven Knows I’m Miserable Now”) has finally been published. It’s a masterpiece of self-flagellation, as brutal an exercise in cricket masochism as RP Singh agreeing to cut short his holiday in Miami to chase a ball around south London for two days.
The Review is a 40-page cry for help, a long list of all the things that Australians think they aren’t very good at. Here’s a brief extract:
“…batting for long periods, batting against the moving ball, batting against spin, batting technique, overall fielding, catching, fitness, bowling to a plan, building pressure, spin bowling, swing bowling, reverse-swing bowling, gum-chewing, palm-spitting, we’ve got really stupid hair, no one loves us and frankly we don’t deserve to be happy anyway...”
The solution to all this angst? “Adult conversations” and “360 degree feedback”. Captain Clarke will be expected to go around the dressing room asking his blokes to pull their f*****g socks up, and they in turn will be encouraged to respond in forthright fashion, along the lines of telling him to stuff his f*****g feedback where the f*****g sun don’t shine. And then everything will be all right again.
Andrew Hughes is a writer currently based in England