August 15, 2012

The twin threats of stupidity and insanity

Cricket is reeling from l'affaire Pietersen, and now there's the whole Bolt thing

I can't say that cricket has gone mad; I'm not a psychiatrist. But I think it needs to talk. And possibly some stronger medication. The last week has clearly been a cry for help.

Let's start with the attempted career suicide of Mr Kevin Pietersen. A few days ago it seemed that England's most talented willow swinger was the victim of ECB bullying, and so, naturally, I was in his camp. And then we found out the real problem. KP had been thumbing derogatory messages about his captain to the opposition. After pausing for a brief face-palm interlude, I packed up my metaphorical tent and made a discreet exit.

When it comes to bad PR, Kevin is a natural in all media; a true allrounder. Whether he's speaking, tweeting or texting, he has the Dan Quayle touch: the knack of saying exactly the wrong thing to the wrong person at the wrong time. Never mind video apologies, the smartest thing he could do is to hand over his iPhone and laptop for safekeeping until the end of his international career, or next Monday, whichever comes first.

So much for the stupidity. Now for the insanity. Some marketing people in Melbourne are very excited. This in itself should be cause for concern. When marketing people are excited, you can be sure that the dignity of the human race is about to suffer another blow.

It transpires that a man renowned for running very fast in one direction (and occasionally round a bend) may be signed up to play cricket for the Melbourne Streakers in the Barbequed Bangers League. As a fan of the 20-over game, I do sometimes despair, and this is one of those times. When people say T20 is a circus, it's hard to mount a convincing defence whilst in the background the big top is being raised and the silly red noses are going on.

Why Usain Bolt? Well, he's quite famous at the moment. But then if that's the attraction, then where do you draw the line? There are any number of people who are quite famous at the moment, but do they all get to wear the sickly green? I'm sure President Assad of Syria, for one, would welcome the change of scenery. After all, everyone loves a pantomime villain. I can see him now, twirling his moustache and laughing maniacally into the helmet mike.

"So Bashar, you need 23 off the last ball, what's the plan?"

"I kill everyone. Then I refuse to leave."

"Mate, I like your fighting spirit."

It's also worth pointing out to the marketing people of Melbourne that although Mr Bolt is quite fast, he's not the fastest thing on Planet Earth. Any half-fit cheetah, antelope or gazelle could outsprint the lanky Jamaican, and even a suitably motivated ostrich would soon have Usain eating her dust. Admittedly it might take a while to explain the lbw rule to the ostrich, but hey, you pay birdseed, you get birds. And at least they don't know how to text.

Andrew Hughes is a writer currently based in England