October 19, 2011

England

Sordid details only

Andrew Hughes
<i>Hoggy: Welcome to My World</i>, by Matthew Hoggard
Matthew Hoggard's autobiography contains a "paw-word" from his dogs. Would you read it?  © ESPNcricinfo Ltd
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Sunday, 16th October Andy Flower is wrong. He thinks autobiographies from current players are a bad idea because they might reveal dressing-room secrets. Au contraire, Mr F, that is precisely why they are a good idea. The only autobiographies worth reading are the ones that are packed with gossip, and gossip, like fertiliser, should be spread while it’s still fresh. Nobody wants the inside scoop on the 1978 series between New Zealand and Pakistan, we want to know what is going on behind closed doors right now.

No, the real problem with these books is not an excess but a lack of muck-raking. I can understand why a player wouldn’t want to offend his comrades, ex-comrades and soon to be ex-comrades, but without the gossip what are you left with? A loose collection of reheated golf stories, nickname anecdotes and a lot of whingeing about hotels. This is why most autobiographies are duller than a Wednesday afternoon session of the Parliamentary Select Committee on Paper Clip Standardisation.

Steve Harmison once claimed not to have read his book about the 2006 Ashes. I don’t blame you Steve, I didn’t read it either. Indeed these books are not designed to be read, only to be bought. They are part of the cricketer’s brand, a commercial PR exercise, like being seen in public supping from cans of barely digestible caffeine-themed liquid or tweeting about how this new washing powder you’ve tried really does get your cricket whites whiter than white at a price that won’t hurt your wallet.

And, by the way, if a journalist listens to you talking about your life, then goes away and writes it all down, that’s not an autobiography, it’s an interview.

Monday, 17th October England’s last two visits to India produced an average of 0.5 wins per series but they are doing their best to limbo underneath this eye-wateringly low standard and have already acquired a couple of big fat losses. Can they keep it up? Almost certainly. We don’t play this kind of cricket domestically and we haven’t been any good at it since 1992; a time when men were still men, upper lips were still hairy and no one worried about the state of their abs.

Unfortunately not only are they failing to win at the moment, they are also struggling somewhat in the losing-with-dignity department. You might think the whining and general acting out in Delhi looked like the kind of tantrums you’d expect to see after a particularly controversial pass-the-parcel ruling at a 10-year-old’s birthday party. But you’d be wrong. According to Team England, Trott et al were just “being aggressive in their body language” and “not taking a backward step”.

And they haven’t ruled out taking their aggressive body language to the next level when they find themselves losing on Thursday, with a range of options available to the England captain including mass pouting, synchronised foot-stamping and, should defeat be particularly imminent, taking their bats home with them.

Andrew Hughes is a writer currently based in England

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Posted by Sagir Parkar on (October 19, 2011, 21:41 GMT)

loved the bit about the next level of 'aggressive behaviour on the field'... :) but yes, i was really surprised by the way England conducted themselves on the field, a fact MSD was quick to point out subversively in the post-match interview.. if Trott, Bresnan et al were that aggressive why were they dropping catches and misfielding ? looked like reverse psychology to me ;)

Posted by akshay on (October 19, 2011, 17:43 GMT)

brilliant sir, absolutely brilliant..especially the last line..reminded me of what we used to do as kids.. :)

Posted by sarthak on (October 19, 2011, 14:04 GMT)

Hahaha brilliant article the best line was the last one "taking their bats home with them"

Posted by Harriet on (October 19, 2011, 12:38 GMT)

Hoggy's autobiography is best of the crop. It's tone and style are hilarious, witty and lighthearted - though I did have to censor the sections on masturbation and genital amputation (no, really, I'm serious)

Poor old Nasser Hussain doesn't come off too well, exploding into a murderous rage over everything from chicken noises to fridge proximinity. Neither does former skipper Michael Vaughan (suspiciously party to Hoggy's being dropped faster than a Kieswetter caught behind after confiding in his captain that he was 'doing a Tres')

Many cricket autobiographies are ghost-written dross, however I would recommend Hoggy's, Nasser's and anything by Michael Atherton for a read that is a cut above the others. Outside of the England camp, Steve Waugh and Adam Gilchrist's efforts (weighing about 10lb between them in hardback) are the best of the bunch.

Leave anything with more pictures than text, or which credits more than two "helpers" in the acknowledgements.

Hari

Posted by abdul bradshaw on (October 19, 2011, 11:22 GMT)

bravo bravo!! Indeed 1992 was a time when men were men, and had moustaches. Ian botham was the tom selleck of cricket, and cricketers had real man nicknames like beefy, squeky and weepy

Posted by sanjeevi on (October 19, 2011, 9:51 GMT)

'mass pouting, synchronised foot-stamping'- actually thats not far away,it might happen in the next match!

Posted by Prasanna on (October 19, 2011, 8:33 GMT)

COnclusion is jimply juperb...

Posted by Satwik on (October 19, 2011, 7:24 GMT)

Hilarious! Mr. Hughes never fails to impress!!! Really funny!

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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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