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Sunday, July 8th Don’t worry, Australians, Mickey Arthur knows why his team are 3-0 down.
“We’ve allowed ourselves to be bullied. I want to see a bit of mongrel come Tuesday. I know the guys are bursting a gut to go out and do well.”
Leaving aside what dogs of mixed parentage and intestinal hernias have to do with winning cricket matches, the reference to bullying is entirely predictable. It’s the standard southern hemisphere reaction to losing at sport. The English blame a lack of “passion” or the presence of foreigners, whichever is easiest, but on the other side of the globe, it’s always because their players weren’t growly enough. To this day, some folk think Australia’s 2005 debacle was down to politeness rather than reverse swing.
The “b” word that Mickey should have used is not “bullied” but “beaten”. No amount of snarling, footstomping or swearing will rectify a dodgy wrist position or straighten out a wonky leg glance. Australia didn’t dominate the cricket world for two decades just because Merv Hughes looked cross or Mark Waugh threatened to give Graeme Hick a wedgie in the lunch break.
Still, if that’s the way they’re thinking, Clarke and chums should bear in mind a couple of important schoolyard lessons. Remember, bullies are just normal people. If the England bowlers are giving you nightmares, try picturing them in their underwear looking for their missing cat or dancing around their hotel room to Abba whilst brushing their teeth or realising that they’ve put their t-shirt on the wrong way round again (I’m willing to bet this happens to Steven Finn quite a lot).
And if that fails, remember that if you ignore bullies, eventually they go away (with a series whitewash and all of your lunch money).
Monday, July 9th Science has done it again! If I were asked to come up with the best way to establish a cricketer’s age, I’d probably suggest we keep him in quarantine without access to razors and see how long it takes him to grow a moustache. Or ask him to hum a Justin Bieber tune. Neither approach is entirely foolproof.
But who would have thought that you can find out a chap’s age by X-raying the lower part of his forearm? I didn’t and I’m fairly sure that most of you didn’t either. And if you did, then well done you. The TW3 method is accurate to within six months and is about to become the BCCI’s weapon of choice in the battle against sneaky forty-something cricketers trying to pass themselves off as 15.
And the sooner they bring out a TW3 device for the mass market, the better. They could prove invaluable to supermarket cashiers plagued by teenagers attempting to purchase age-restricted goods (cigarettes, alcohol, guns, Graeme Swann’s autobiography). Such a device would also be a hit at birthday parties:
“I know the man in the greengrocers said you don’t look a day over 35, dear, but look here, the TW3 quite clearly says you’re 47…”
Not everyone is excited by this marvel, however. The Overage Players Association have asked the BCCI not to adopt the TW3 on two grounds. Firstly, it’s quite expensive, even if you opt for the model without the leather carry case and the signed photo of Sourav Ganguly. And secondly, it is not 100% accurate. However, as we know, Mr Srinivasan is a forward-looking kind of dude and is unlikely to accept these rather flimsy arguments.
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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