October 8, 2011

England

No more samosas for Samit

Andrew Hughes
Samit Patel works hard at England's training session, Bristol, June 23, 2011
Andy Flower makes Samit Patel skip rope for a rhino to make him understand the importance of fitness  © Getty Images
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Thursday, 6th October England’s official Liposuction Coordinator has had his leave cancelled and crates of reduced-flavour celery drink have been delivered to a certain Nottingham residence. Yes, the game is up for county cricket’s favourite fugitive from fitness and he is at last in compliance with Flower Directive 1.01: You Must Be Able To See Your Toes At All Times (Now Give Me One Hundred Press-Ups, Fatty).

Quite right, Samit, I said to myself, whilst munching on an éclair, about time you put the effort in. And it was, of course, inevitable. You don’t mess with Team England. They’re a cross between a Neapolitan crime family and a Royal Marines boot camp; The Godfather with energy drinks. Paul Collingwood once thought he could retire a little bit. Now his career is wearing a concrete overcoat and has sunk without trace.

Still it is a little sad to hear Samit spouting Flowerspeak. Train harder. Do the work. Put the hours in. Put the work in. It sounds exhausting yet at the same time monotonous, a little too much like working for a living. Some of us cling fondly to the idea that cricket should be played by people for whom a bit of a thrash with the bat is just a pleasant diversion from an afternoon of sipping cocktails, playing canasta with the French ambassador and swimming the Hellespont.

And perhaps in years to come, we will tell our children the story of Samit the Outlaw, the rebel with a paunch who stood up for a man’s right to eat three samosas before breakfast and still call himself a professional sportsman.

Friday, 7th October There are some aspects of human civilisation I will never understand: television talent contests, line dancing, coats for dogs, the popularity of Sarah Palin. And our peculiar sport has a few unfathomable oddities of its own. Take, for example, the idea that our cricket pitches must be standardised. Has anyone ever asked the ICC why?

I’m not suggesting horticultural anarchy. On the whole it would be preferable if pitches were to continue to be based around the popular soil and grass theme, roughly level from one end to the other and devoid of craters, molehills, water features and sandpits. I accept too, that the grass must be cut from time to time and that herbaceous borders probably add little to the cricket watcher’s experience.

But beyond that, surely we must let the curators have their fun. And if they occasionally come up with a pitch that is dryer than the surface of the moon, then so be it. We don’t ask that our batsmen be of a standard height, or that spinners only bowl googlies on day five. Give the men with the mowers free rein and see how much more interesting these matches could be.

Instead, Sri Lanka Cricket has been reprimanded because the Galle surface helped to create dangerously high levels of entertainment and batsmen were required to look for their runs rather than have them brought out on a silver platter.

Andrew Hughes is a writer currently based in England

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Posted by Tania on (October 10, 2011, 11:33 GMT)

Yup, if the pitch is not dangerous to play on and doesn't crumble in such a way that the match will be decided on the toss, everything else is relative isn't it? I mean a spinner would prefer a spinning wicket, a pace bowler would prefer a bouncy wicket and a batsman would love a batting wicket... what the hell is a good wicket anyway?

Posted by Andrew Hughes on (October 9, 2011, 10:03 GMT)

Thanks all for the comments.

DG I think you are spot on, batsmen plundering easy runs is dull to watch. Give me a bowling friendly pitch any day.

Peter, I apologise if you found my response to you offensive, that was not my intention. I assumed that your remarks were tongue-in-cheek and responded in kind. This isn't perhaps the place to enter into a prolonged correspondence, but I will say that regardless of what Europeans did in the 18th century or the various failings of the US government, if Mr Stanford obtained money via fraudulent means, then he is a crook. Maybe some of his investors could afford to lose their money, but that is surely no defence for stealing. I'm afraid I don't see him as a Robin Hood figure at all.

Posted by prabu on (October 9, 2011, 7:01 GMT)

Its nice to feel that someone else is thinking along the same like you. Thanks andrew.

Posted by DG on (October 9, 2011, 5:45 GMT)

Hi Andrew, Just one comment that is on a major issue you mentioned on the surface in Galle, I fully agree that pitches need to vary, ICC should be reprimanded by the Sri Lankan board for its criticism of the pitch. Jaywardene made splendid 100 (a technical delight) and Harris bowled superbly. I somehow feel it all started in 1990 in England when the "True" pitch concept came in to play "True" basically means a dead wicket where runs are plundered. Mark Taylor used to mention it repeatedly later asking for "True" wickets. The truth is Batsmen plundering runs makes cricket boring, watching old footage where they used to be carried off (unable to handle a bouncer) is far better to watch.

Posted by Aarushi vaidya on (October 9, 2011, 5:36 GMT)

Great article!

Posted by Kaustubh on (October 9, 2011, 2:43 GMT)

" Samit the Outlaw, the rebel with a paunch who stood up for a man’s right to eat three samosas before breakfast ..."--outstanding!

"We don’t ask that our batsmen be of a standard height, or that spinners only bowl googlies on day five"---true.

Posted by Peter Anderson on (October 8, 2011, 20:06 GMT)

Great article here Mr. Hughes. However, I still consider your article on Mr. Stanford very offensive and your response to me equally as offensive, though sarcastic. I understand that sarcasm is your forte so I have no hard feelings towards you. I hope, though, that you are not a thin-skinned person who dishes out sarcasm and cries when sarcastic remarks are thrown at you. This includes NOT RESPONDING when I comment on your articles! I WILL TEST YOU IN THIS REGARD AND EXPOSE YOU if you are found out to be a cry baby!! Now, Samit Patel is one of my favorite cricketers because of his exploits in England: his ability to change the course of a match with bat or ball or both. You could have included a ' Pauncho Patel' somewhere in the article. I had a good laugh with this article.

Posted by akila on (October 8, 2011, 15:39 GMT)

absolutely agree..with regard to the galle pitch ting...with regard to sumit patel..cricket isnt neccassarily a game that requires much fitness..its more connected with the skill & being able concentrate for long hours

Posted by Aina on (October 8, 2011, 12:58 GMT)

Well written as usual! You have expressed what everyone is thinking beautifully! I don't agree with those who say bouncy wickets should be prevented as much as dust bowls. I say all these flat tracks should attract far more reprimands. Since everyone agrees the Galle pitch wasn't dangerous; it just helped the poor bowlers a little, this is cruel.

Posted by Akheel on (October 8, 2011, 9:00 GMT)

I am 101% with Andrew on the Galle wicket.No one wishes to spend five days watching another boring draw.

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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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