January 28, 2012

Australia v India 2011-12

When will the Indians feel embarrassed?

Andrew Hughes
Kevin Pietersen has a net while wearing a helmet camera, The Oval, May 6, 2011
Kevin Pietersen participates in bringing about the downfall of the game  © PA Photos
Enlarge

RELATED LINKS

Thursday, 26th January Today Giles “Show me the money” Clarke issued a dire warning. Ever vigilant, like Batman in a pin-striped suit, he’s identified the biggest threat to cricket, the looming danger that could destroy our beautiful game and he wants to tell us all about it.

Is it match-fixing? Nope. Twenty20 overkill? No. What about the ongoing DRS controversy, with its corrosive effect on the authority of umpires? Not that either. The imbalance in wealth between rich and poor cricket boards? The plight of Test cricket? The threat of Premier League football? No, no and no.

It seems the biggest danger to cricket is… people watching cricket on the internet. Now I’ll be honest, until recently (this morning) I didn’t really know what pirate streaming was. It sounds like an extreme form of white-water rafting restricted to members of the piratical fraternity. In a better world, that’s what it would be.

But no. Pirate streaming is the broadcasting of cricket coverage over the internet by people who have no permission to do so. And, make no mistake, it is evil.

“They take money out of the game without commercial benefits to us.”

So says Giles. But is he right? He’s assuming that people who watch illegal footage would otherwise be forking out for a Sky subscription. But surely, if you could afford to buy a Sky subscription, you’d er… do that, rather than choose to watch jerky footage of a blurry Test match that looks like its being filmed through the balcony window of a nearby hotel?

Is it an irritation to the ECB? Yes. Ever so slightly illegal? Certainly. But the biggest danger that cricket faces? Come now, Mr Clarke, you’re being hysterical. It’s like me suggesting that the biggest threat to cricket is the impulse to make as much money as possible in the shortest possible time, regardless of the effect on the sport, its legacy or the wider cricket public (see Stanford, A).

Friday, 27th January When I first saw the headline, I could feel the gas being turned up beneath the simmering broth of dissatisfaction that has been bubbling away on my mental stove throughout this one-sided Australian-based farce:

“Ashwin says players disappointed, not embarrassed”.

It immediately begged the question: if losing a second away series 4-0 does not embarrass them, what would? Pictures of MS Dhoni as a baby? A Justin Bieber tune discovered on Ishant’s ipod? The revelation that Zaheer used to run a lingerie boutique or that Sachin is an avid reader of the works of Mr J Archer?

But when I calmed down a little and gave it some thought, I realised that Ashwin’s statement is in the classical philosophical tradition of Stoicism. As Marcus Aurelius said at his press conference after the battle of Carnuntum in AD170, “No, I am not embarrassed that the Germans have sneaked across the Danube while I wasn’t looking. If the rational mind of a man refuses to accept embarrassment, then he is not embarrassed. And everyone knows we don’t fight as well away from home.”

In any case, it would hardly be fair to pick on Ashwin. Not only is he the team's deputy nightwatchman, he appears to be the regular press conference watchman, having been to more of these excruciating recrimination and cliché fests than any other member of the squad. How many more different ways can he find to explain why they lost in three days, why Sachin hasn’t scored his hundred yet and why his captain puts most of the fielders on the fence as soon as Australia hit fifty?

Still, I’ve a horrible feeling that his sterling work in front of the microphone won’t do him any good come scapegoat time. Virat looks to have scrambled to safety by scoring some runs and since eight-elevenths of the Indian team appears undroppable, Ashwin must already feel like the next sacrificial victim tied to the tree waiting nervously for The Srikkanth, the terrifying career-eating monster with his deadly axe.

Andrew Hughes is a writer currently based in England

RSS Feeds: Andrew Hughes

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

Posted by ret on (January 31, 2012, 7:55 GMT)

@Raven. After Australia were bowled out for 47 in South Africa they responded by winning the next test and squaring the series. That kind of performance tends to ease embarrassment.

Posted by Vivek Chhajer on (January 31, 2012, 5:20 GMT)

Atleast Ashwin is thinking positvely about it. He is not the swiftest of movers or a classic off spinner but he gave his best in trying conditions. Losing eight test matches on a trot is obviously pretty bad but that's what separates a great player from an ordinary one or an average team from a great one.

I am sure India will rise up the rankings as most of their matches are in the sub-continent. England wins in England, Aus in Aus and they are deemed unbeatable and great, but when they travel to sub-continent, they are resigned to the fact that they are going to lose.

However, I do feel that to be the best team, India needs to win abroad and that can only be achieved by having bowlers who can bowl opposition out under 300 on lively pitches. Batting will take care of itself but India needs to produce good fast bowlers.

Losing 8 matches does take its toll on the mental strength but sometimes its down to talent & skill than just motivation and dedication. Nothing to do with IPL.

Posted by Jarrod on (January 31, 2012, 2:06 GMT)

The most one sided series in Australia since the Ashes white wash on 05-06.

I respect England for beating us, as they were a formidable fo.

But beating no destroying the overrating cocky indians, just made my Summer.

Sorry India you cant Buy back your No 1 status lol.

Posted by Namuchi on (January 30, 2012, 12:03 GMT)

RUBBISH TO READ ALL THESE. If players not performed - IT IS JUST A NON-PERFORMANCE WHICH CALLS FOR PUNISHMENT. THAT IS ALL. It is for the players to accept the punishment, may be work on weakness and bounce back if opportunity is given. What is the need for feeling EMBARRASSED?? Why should the bowler go through AXING? If performance is the parameter, THEN ALL SHOULD BE AXED INCLUDING VIRAT KHOLI WHOM WE SAY HAS PERFORMED. Who is a performer? To me Dhoni is a performer - He played a Pivital role in lifting the world cup!! He is a performer. Virat Kholi DID NOT PERFORM IN THE FIRST TEST MATCH - HAD HE PERFORMED WELL, we would have won the first test match which would have turned around the entire stuff. Therefore, performance means - (a) A PLAYER PERFORMS AT THE RIGHT TIME AND (b) ALL PLAYERS PERFORM MODERATELY. NEITHER HAPPENED. Why are we talking about one or two players getting axed? Shame that nobody has any sense to even understand this. Goodluck Team India.

Posted by Dean on (January 29, 2012, 7:02 GMT)

I was laughing through most of the series watching the "Indian superstars" collapse like a bunch of pre-school girls. Can't wait for the ODI series.

Posted by Vikram on (January 29, 2012, 6:42 GMT)

Mr. Hughes, thank you for your sardonic take on the state of cricket, I do hope the Indian cricket team and Giles Clark, read this article of yours, they could really use your healthy dose of reality. Thank you.

Posted by jogesh99 on (January 29, 2012, 6:00 GMT)

Meanwhile England are as emphatically not embarrassed in Abu Dhabi.

Posted by Raven on (January 29, 2012, 4:39 GMT)

I guess they were never once bowled out for 47 or needed a number 11 to get them from 29/9 to 47. Talk about embarrasment?! Australia in South Africa, not so long ago!

Posted by Dishum on (January 29, 2012, 4:15 GMT)

The answer to the question / headline : After India lose the next two T20's against the Aussies and then NOT make final of the CB ODI series.

Posted by ravichandran on (January 29, 2012, 3:50 GMT)

A lot of people think that Ashwin is in the team because of srikkanth.they forget that he took 21 wickets against the west indies.by the way srikkanth's son anirudh is not even in the Tamil nadu team.So i dont think that srikkanth wields any undue influence in selection matters.

Comments have now been closed for this article

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

All articles by this writer