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Monday, 7th November Like dragging a piano up the north face of the Eiger or trying to remove a recalcitrant hippo from a swimming pool full of blancmange, building a successful Test team depends on everyone pulling together. Take Sri Lanka. They’ve lost another Test series but chairman of selectors, Duleep Mendis, sees the bigger picture:
"It is not easy replacing players of the calibre of Murali, Sanath, Vaas and Marvan. It will take some time and we will hit some rough patches while in the process.”
Quite so. You’re rebuilding so the last thing you want is for people to start laying into the team just because they lose the odd series along the way. Am I right, Mr M?
“The performance of our cricketers is way below what we expected of them… See the number of players who are injured. I don’t know what our physios and masseurs are doing with the players for them to get constantly injured…”
It seems that Duleep has a Big List of Blame which includes batsmen, bowlers, coaches, backroom staff, cleaners and even the team cook whose biriyani too often lacked bite and whose rice was insufficiently fluffy on the big occasion. Calm down, Mr Mendis! If the chief architect is going to keep panicking like this, that rebuild project could take a while. Oh and it might help if you paid the builders occasionally.
Tuesday, 8th November With just 39 days left until the Sydney Sausages take on the Brisbane Ribs, the marketing people are working overtime to persuade us that the Big Barbeque League is the most exciting thing in cricket since Mike Brearley started to grow a beard.
We’ve seen these Twenty20 launches before and we know the drill by now: Power Rangers style logos, randomly alliterative team names and some really, really awful shirts. But how can the organisers establish identities for eight teams that don’t yet exist? Simple. With a healthy dose of IPL-style gibberish.
For example, the website of the Perth Scorchers tells us that they are “proudly, defiantly Perth”. I don’t know what this means. I was happy to accept that they were from Perth when I read that they were called the Perth Scorchers, and I didn’t really require any further clarification. Or are they saying that Perth is a state of being, not a city. Are you Perth? Are you feeling Perthy today? Or is that just wind?
Elsewhere, we learn that Melbourne Renegades are vibrant, diverse and progressive, that the Hobart Hurricanes have a passion that is both rugged and yet at the same time purple, whilst The Heat, who rather oddly will be wearing icy blue, are loyal, forward thinking and energetic. By contrast, poor old Sydney Sixers are letting the side down with just the one adjective, a rather paltry “vibrant”.
And is it just me or do the Melbourne Stars seem rather light on stars (with due apologies to Luke Wright)? I suppose they have signed up Liz Hurley’s fiancé and he is most definitely box office, although I am a bit worried about the old boy. It’s not his age, it’s his weight. In my experience people who shed that many pounds are never quite the same. I fear that a lean and slender Warne will be a man much reduced in his powers; like Samson after Delilah had been at him with the scissors.
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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