October 1, 2011

England

That repugnant numeral 3

Andrew Hughes
Ijaz Butt and Shahid Afridi address the media, Lahore, May 25, 2010
"Our next coach should be a person who cannot guess Shahid's real age but can anticipate when he's going to retire next"  © Associated Press
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Wednesday, 28th September Next summer there are to be 13 one-day internationals in Britain, which is obviously a good thing. Fifty-over cricket is splendid. You get a proper day out, coloured shirts, an eclectic mix of bad ‘90s dance music on the PA system, no fussing about with floodlights and a guaranteed result. If it were up to me, I’d scatter them across the fixture list like sparkly confetti. Players don’t like them, but what else would they be doing? Shopping for sunglasses? Arranging barbeques.

Journalists say that scheduling so many one-day internationals is like flogging a dead horse. I disagree. The horse is full of beans and the occasional thwack across its hind quarters merely encourages more mileage from the beast. It is Test cricket that has been lying in the straw, not touching its hay and refusing to get up. And rather than calling in the vet, the various cricket boards are standing around, shuffling their feet, looking awkwardly at the ground and waiting for it to expire.

Because here’s the real scandal about next summer’s calendar: there will be three Tests against South Africa. That’s right. Three. De La Soul were wrong. Three is most definitely not the magic number. It is an entirely inadequate number, a number that we should look down upon and make those dismissive sniffing noises that the French are so good at. Three? Ha, I cannot even bring myself to look at you, you paltry and pathetic series of puny proportions.

Anywhere else on Planet Cricket, where Tests are played out to the accompaniment of empty seats and mass yawning, this kind of scheduling would make sense. But in England people still turn up for the five-day stuff. They actually like it. What’s more, it’s the only format we’re any good at these days. If we can’t even muster up a five-match series to decide the No. 1 Test ranking, then what hope is there?

Thursday, 29th September Put your pens down, stop licking that Lahore-addressed envelope and don’t bother sending that text to Ijaz Butt complimenting him on how distinguished his grey hair makes him look, because entries are now closed in the international competition to become Pakistan’s next coach. In fact the PCB’s whittling committee have already whittled down a list of 37 to just five, which is the most impressive and speedy piece of whittling you are likely to see outside of the World Whittling Championships.

I knew there would be a lot of interest, so I got my application in early. My credentials are impeccable. I have a great deal of experience in the field of virtual coaching (shouting advice at the television during Kochi’s IPL matches), I am prepared to do whatever Mr Butt tells me and I’ve never fallen out with Shahid Afridi. I haven’t heard back yet, which I think is a good sign. I’ll let you know how I get on.

Andrew Hughes is a writer currently based in England

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Posted by zaky on (October 4, 2011, 12:53 GMT)

i really would like to meet whoever gets to decide the schedules. not the mysterious "CSA" etc. the actual person who says its okay to have three tests in what will probably be one of the best (and profitable) series of the year. then i would like to shoot them.

Posted by landl47 on (October 2, 2011, 4:46 GMT)

International cricket, led by the ICC and BCCI (surely I'm not alone in thinking that there is a silent 'B' on the end of ICC?) has decided that tests require too much technique, strategy, fitness and concentration to make them worthwhile for players. It interferes with their ability to slog mindlessly and bowl defensively with no fielders near the wicket. Games lasting 5 days also have an unfavorable impact on advertising photoshoots. From now on, games will last no more than 3 hours, bowlers may bend their elbows when bowling and are not required to pitch the ball on the wicket. The bats will be changed to long cylinders which can hit the ball further. Oh, and one other minor change- the name of the game will be changed to 'baseball'.

Posted by mares on (October 1, 2011, 13:03 GMT)

Andrew, did u seriously apply for the position of Pakistan's coach?

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Andrew Hughes
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. His latest book is available here and here @hughandrews73

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