England v India 2011 August 20, 2011

An odd cricket ritual

Aren't there better ways to frighten a batsman than pretend to throw a ball at him that he knows you know that he knows you're not going to throw?

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

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • testli5504537 on August 20, 2011, 21:23 GMT

    I can remember at least 3 incidents when this ritual paid off. Two times with Inzamam Ul haq and once Misbah Ul Haq. On one occasion, Inzamam jumped to miss the ball and the ball hit the stumps. After a couple of matches, he stopped the ball with his bat and he was given out. Misbah was also given out when he had crossed the line but jumped to avoid the ball and was out. So, I guess it pays off. I wonder what would have happened to the bowlers had the batsman not jumped or stopped the ball with the bat and the ball had hit them. Would the bowler be penalized?

  • testli5504537 on August 20, 2011, 21:16 GMT

    very funny... tell him that you’re in love with him hahaha

  • testli5504537 on August 20, 2011, 19:47 GMT

    poorly written and not even remotely funny/whimsical/witty

  • testli5504537 on August 20, 2011, 18:56 GMT

    As regards throwing the ball at the batsman, I think Sir Humphrey Appleby's immortal words can tell us the reason - "----although he probably certainly knows that he probably wouldn't, he certainly knows that although he probably wouldn't, there's no probability that he certainly would"!! Try translating that to Malyalam, Gopu dear!

  • testli5504537 on August 20, 2011, 18:32 GMT

    'you could warn him about the tarantula on his shoulder'......really laughed my hear out....a masterpiece, Andrew!

  • testli5504537 on August 20, 2011, 14:28 GMT

    awesome again!! andrew..you are simply the best..

  • testli5504537 on August 20, 2011, 13:49 GMT

    "tell him im in love with you might actually scare him" hahahaahahaha damn you Andrew show sree some respect he's a 'fast' bowler for god sake

  • testli5504537 on August 20, 2011, 12:37 GMT

    stupid player i ever seen in my life MR. Sresaanth

  • testli5504537 on August 20, 2011, 9:37 GMT

    This article is just outcome of Shree – Petersen seen? I think yes Since India have dominated past two years of World cricket it is expected that people specially British will try to find out something against them. Speaking about sledging whole world know Australians, English are worst. Bowler will always through ball toward Batsman isn’t it?

  • testli5504537 on August 20, 2011, 8:37 GMT

    Basically it seems like the want Clarke to try and recreate Allan Border's dressing room. Well, it did work last time and us Aussies do go for that sort of thing. I wouldn't be surprised if your last paragraph is a pretty accurate description of something that would actually work for the Australian team.

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