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Thursday, 1st March Due to the recent spate of naughtiness, the ECB have arranged an amnesty for players to report corruption. During this time, they will be able to hand over any brown envelopes, bundles of cash or leather jackets they might have about their person and ‘fess up to anything even remotely dodgy that they might have seen, heard, dreamt about or vaguely remembered from an early episode of Starsky and Hutch.
Now, an amnesty is a lovely thing, the nearest that non-Catholics will get to confession. After a brief admission of wrongdoing, your conscience is wiped clean and off you go, whistling into the sunshine, a better person. A similar amnesty was recently tried in the Houses of Parliament although it had to be abandoned after half an hour as the staff taking the details ran out of notepaper.
But I’m certain cricket can make more use of amnesties. Ahead of the IPL, guilty-looking microphone botherers could, from behind a curtain of anonymity, perhaps with their words voiced by an actor, admit to offences relating to Row Z, blimps, tracer bullets and Indian mobile phone companies. We’ve tackled the dodgy players, now let’s root out the oral terrorism that is ruining our beautiful game.
Friday, 2nd March The outlaw Jesse Ryder and his chum Doug have been suspended by New Zealand Cricket for insulting a patron in a hotel bar, though I suspect that “patron” in this case is journalese for “inebriated bystander” or “nearby loudmouth”. We don’t know much about the individual concerned, but we do read that he was “taunting” the off-duty pair, which gives us a clue as to his character.
You or I, upon seeing a brace of international cricketers may remark to our friends, “Oh look, there’s Thingy and Whatsit. You know, Thingy, who used to play for Bangalore.” And there it would end, apart perhaps for an observation that he’s a lot shorter/thinner/balder than he looks on television. But I wonder what special neurological quirk leads an individual to think, “Oh look, there’s Thingy and Whatsit. I must come up with something scatological to shout at them.”
Of course, there is a time and a place for taunting, but that time and place is usually on the eve of a battle at which axes, clubs and sharpened throwing implements are the fashionable weapons of choice. The French are particularly good at this sort of thing, as shown in that Monty Python film, which leads me to wonder whether the taunter was in fact a John Cleese fan in a medieval costume:
“I laugh in your general direction, you frequently injured allrounder. Your mother was a hippopotamus and your father couldn’t land a ball on the cut strip, you rotund beige-wearing person!”
Or perhaps not. We can’t be sure what the taunter said, but I’m assuming that it didn’t come from Oscar Wilde’s Big Book of Bar Room Insults and was the usual witless rubbish. So essentially, this is a re-run of the Kohli Incident with the mitigating circumstances that R&B weren’t even on duty. Yes, cricketers should behave themselves, but why should they be held to a different standard to the rest of us?
And why do cricket boards come over all prissy about confrontations that hardly anyone sees whilst being completely relaxed about the on-field petulance, personal abuse and general acting out that has become the norm in international cricket and is regularly witnessed by millions, or in New Zealand’s case, dozens?
No, New Zealand Cricket have got this wrong and it isn’t the first time they’ve messed up. I mean, Black Caps? Really? It sounds like a dental fitting or a tedious species of small wading bird. In fact, while we’re at it, NZC, your organisation is over-staffed, your logo looks like a chimpanzee’s doodle and your corporate strategy is deficient in key areas, you lazily assembled collection of consonants! I flick my ink pen in your direction, you hairy-fingered so-called administrators…*
* Have fun coming up with your own NZC taunts, since they aren’t allowed to answer back.
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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