January 14, 2012

Australia v India 2011-12

Decoding playerspeak

Andrew Hughes
Morne Morkel's is thrilled after dismissing Angelo Mathews, South Africa v Sri Lanka, 1st ODI, Paarl, January 11, 2012
Demons in the pitch? Freddie v Jason, no doubt  © Getty Images
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Wednesday, 11th January How best to describe Sri Lanka’s batting today? Mere words can only begin to convey the wretchedness of their willow-wafting. It was more horrifying than Rick Santorum wearing a Newt Gingrich mask; messier than the state of Italy’s finances, and uglier to watch than the unveiling of the new pavilion at Headingley.

But not, I suspect, as ugly as the mood of the ordinary Sri Lankan spectator who has been asked to swallow an awful lot of ineptitude of late and who might be starting to suspect that the phrase “We’re in transition” is in fact top sports administrator code for “Help, we really don’t know what to do without Murali!”

And just what is it with the modern batsman? Accustomed to nice, well-behaved pitches, where the bounce is always ankle height and the runs flow easy, he turns into a dainty, timorous creature when faced with deliveries that deviate a millimetre from a straight line or which threaten to bounce up and tickle his tummy.

Sri Lanka’s ineptitude was summed up by Lasith Malinga. In Twenty20 World, a quick 30 from the Slinger can be the game. But faced with the need to hit a quick 270, his methods proved less effective. Going down on one knee, he swung mightily, as though trying to get them all in one shot. Naturally, he missed.

Thursday, 12th January There is a lot of speculation ahead of India’s defeat in Perth about what kind of team they are going to pick. I have no inside knowledge, but experience leads me to suggest that the kind of team they will pick will be one that looks good on paper, sets off with purpose, gets within sniffing distance of the outskirts of victory, then wanders off to sit in a field making daisy chains before falling asleep under a bush.

You know, the usual.

But MS Dhoni, a man who can rival Chris Gayle in the unflappable/laidback/not-appearing-to-be-all-that-bothered-actually stakes, is in a philosophical mood.

“You lose a few series, you lose a few games. As long as you are competing, it is good.”

It rather depends. If by “competing” he means, “turning up and running about a bit like it says we have to do in our BCCI contracts” then yes, India have been competing. But it’s not the kind of competing that we might expect from a team that was No. 1 not so long ago. But hang on. Is there another reason for their poor efforts?

“In England, we weren’t really there, so we didn’t perform to our potential.”

What do you mean, you weren’t really there? Is this just sportsman’s speak, a derivation of the cliché about parties? You know the one: “We didn’t come to the party, so obviously we didn’t get a go on the karaoke machine or have a chance to sample the buffet or get to show off our dance moves and we don’t know who did what with whom at the party, which is disappointing, but hopefully we will be invited to the party next time.”

Or was Dhoni being literal. What if he has accidentally let the feline out of the holdall? What if they really weren’t there in England and they aren’t there in Australia either? Perhaps, worn out by the excessive demands of their fans/accountants/agents, they’ve taken these series off and sent in their place a plausible cast of doubles, impersonators and, in the case of VVS, a realistically dressed mannequin.

It would explain a lot.

Andrew Hughes is a writer currently based in England

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Posted by Prashanth on (January 15, 2012, 7:08 GMT)

It depicts the state of Dhoni's current state of mind and thought process. He's a manager of a pathetically hopeless team that is getting exposed on client sites when trying to do the work they are supposed to do efficiently. That Dhoni guy is flabbergasted thinking the current state of affairs, he knows that they've fallen into an infinitesimally deep abyss from where coming up is an absolute impossible. So simply mix n matching English words and trying to escape the press conferences and go inyo a hiding in the room. I hope these hopeless players who are source of heart ache to so many of their fans get a thorough appraisal done and get summarily axed from the team. No good..they have screwed up our happiness so they should be made accountable for this and sent home dismissed. So much pain..so much dissapointment because of our team, I hate them to the core for consistently letting me down. Shucks!!!... :-(

Posted by Andrew on (January 15, 2012, 3:00 GMT)

These blokes are being paid millions of dollars (or quadrillions of rupees) to "be there." I'm pretty sure standard players contracts require them to present themselves with first class conditioning and preparation. If they weren't "really there" in ENG, would he object if the BCCI didn't really pay them?

Posted by Blesson on (January 15, 2012, 2:00 GMT)

"Or was Dhoni being literal. What if he has accidentally let the feline out of the holdall? What if they really weren’t there in England and they aren’t there in Australia either? Perhaps, worn out by the excessive demands of their fans/accountants/agents, they’ve taken these series off and sent in their place a plausible cast of doubles, impersonators and, in the case of VVS, a realistically dressed mannequin."- That was quite true... heck... this should be the cover story on page 1.... Indian Cricket is actually going through an overkill... And the best proof is there on the field to see... not only in the results... but in the players attitudes as well... Where are the days when we used to wait months or even a year for a return series..... The wait made the series all the more sweeter.... Hang BCCI and its money-mongerers....

Posted by CricFan on (January 14, 2012, 23:27 GMT)

Could you please stop targeting Dhoni… it is not his fault if you do not understand the cultural lingo of India. “By not being there” he means that he was there physically but mentally and spiritually he was back in India counting the loot from the IPL and Roebuck. May be I should give you the benefit of the doubt, may be you did get what Dhoni meant but was afraid to cite this in the article to prevent any outburst from Mr. Shastri… yes these days no one can stand up against the powerful institution Mr. Shastri works for.

Posted by Malik on (January 14, 2012, 22:20 GMT)

Dhoni said “In England, we weren’t really there, so we didn’t perform to our potential.”

& Boycott clarified " India played like Bangladesh in disguise"

Posted by AK on (January 14, 2012, 20:55 GMT)

Hilarious!! Thank u

Posted by Pradip Lal on (January 14, 2012, 20:28 GMT)

I think the Indian Cricket Board is the problem for not getting in new players. There 4 batsman who should have been replaced long ago. In a country where cricket is a religion and out of 1.2 billion people if this is there best team then they should play second division teams.

Posted by landl47 on (January 14, 2012, 14:49 GMT)

I think you could broaden the definition of 'we're in transition' to read 'our great players are retired or past it and the new ones aren't much good'. By that definition, India, Australia, Sri Lanka and the West Indies are in transition. England and South Africa aren't in transition because their players are still in their prime and New Zealand, Zimbabwe and Bangladesh aren't in transition because they've never had enough great players in the first place. Pakistan is the mystery team; we don't know whether they are in transition yet, but we'll soon find out.

Posted by priyadarshinee on (January 14, 2012, 11:37 GMT)

Love the last paragraph. :)

Posted by Majnu on (January 14, 2012, 10:31 GMT)

"There is a lot of speculation ahead of India’s defeat in Perth about what kind of team they are going to pick" - Brilliant!!

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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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