West Indies October 29, 2011

What should Chris Gayle apologise for?

For starters, for not using the correct pronoun

Wednesday, 26th October Chris Gayle wants some clarification from the big cheeses at the WICB:

“They need to come clear and say what Chris Gayle should apologise for, and what should Chris Gayle retract.”

Well, for a start, I think he owes us all an apology for continually referring to himself in the third person. If people keep doing that, then Andrew Hughes is afraid that he won’t be able to work out who is saying what to whom. And if the WICB join in, the introduction of the third person plural could take us into new realms of bafflement.

Still, we’ve all been in Chris’ position: your partner makes it clear an apology is due, but you haven’t the foggiest idea what you are supposed to be apologising for. In such circumstances, asking for clarification rarely goes down well. If you want to stay in this relationship, Chris, Andrew Hughes’ advice is to send the WICB a big bunch of flowers with a little note saying: “V Sorry (for whatever). Love Chris. (Gayle).

Kisses are optional.

Thursday, 27th October Hashim Amla has said that he’d have to think about it if he was asked to be captain again. I don’t blame him. Who on earth would want such an awful job?

It is true that being South African skipper isn’t as demeaning as captaining a club side: Hashim almost certainly doesn’t have to ring around to find 11 fit players, stick his finger into the urn at lunch time to test the temperature of the tea or try to sober up a hungover Dale Steyn. But an international captain has his own burdens to bear: talking to journalists without punching them, constantly monitoring his players’ Twitter feed and trying to avoid Geoffrey Boycott at social functions.

If your team wins, the players get the credit. If they lose, it is because you didn’t have an extra cover for 20 minutes on the second morning, you bowled Herbert from the wrong end when everyone could plainly see that the prevailing breeze had changed from a westerly to a north-easterly, you lost the toss for the 13th time in a row, and both your handclapping and your cries of “Come on lads, let’s get stuck in!” were lacking in vigour and plausibility.

You can’t even measure a captain’s performance. There are no stats for “getting the best out of an ordinary bunch of professionals” or “always being one step ahead of the game”. You might be a tactical genius, an intuitive psychiatrist, a gifted diplomat and an inspirational speaker, but if your team is full of duffers, you’ll never win anything. Don Bradman, for example, was not the world’s greatest skipper, but he benefited hugely from the fact that he was able to call on the services of Don Bradman.

No, to become a captain you need to be part egomaniac, part masochist, but most importantly, you need to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. So Hashim, next time AB stubs his toe on the boundary rope while trying to catch a butterfly or sneezes over the grapefruit selection at the hotel’s breakfast buffet, start limping.

Andrew Hughes is a writer currently based in England

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