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
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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

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Damo on August 23, 2012, 8:34 GMT

    Mr Hughes, you are a very funny man & I'm glad you like cricket.

  • vinod on August 23, 2012, 6:12 GMT

    Hilarious Andrew. Such decisions r a real dumbing down of cricket

  • Rohit on August 22, 2012, 7:34 GMT

    "And at least they don’t know how to text."

    But they do know how to tweet. Oh come on Andrew, you must've thought about it?

  • prem on August 17, 2012, 1:36 GMT

    andrew, u r going to watch bbl more than ever aren't u.. ?? can't wait to see bolt taking on the mid-on fielder after hitting the ball straight to him and taking a single.. !! that would be some sight...

  • Saahil on August 16, 2012, 23:16 GMT

    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. - Brilliance. A line like this demands I say more but I shall resist. Just, it's one of the great privelages of following this game that one gets to read your work. *Sorry, couldn't resist* :-)

  • Piksson on August 16, 2012, 14:20 GMT

    Another thing crossed my mind after reading the comments. I remembered a recent interview with Bolt where he talked about his plans for retirement in jamaica. Let's just say they involved much sitting around doin nothing and spending his hard earned money. If money is the most important factor for him right now I fail to see the logic. Of course he will earn more playing cricket than being a sprinter. On the forbes 100 highest-paid athletes of 2012 list I failed to find any hurdlers, sprinters, swimmers and such. On the other hand only Dhoni made the list as a cricketer and that somewhere around No 30. If Usain wishes to capitalize on his fast legs I would advise him to consider major league baseball or football, players from both of which dominate the list. Especially in MLB extremely fast players were always popular and I think in few years he could top Teixeiras earnings easily ;) Just something to think about...

  • Ash on August 16, 2012, 6:40 GMT

    To be honest, the Bolt thing is not simply a publicity stunt. He has some cricketing experience in the amateur level, and if i'm not mistaken, in a charity match once in Jamaica, if clean bowled Brian Lara for a duck. And after all, T20 is a circus, and i for once won't mind to see Bolt for more than 10 seconds on the pitch!

  • Morgan on August 16, 2012, 5:38 GMT

    Love it: "When marketing people are excited, you can be sure that the dignity of the human race is about to suffer another blow. "

    The whole Bolt thing is a bad joke, but actually reveals something else: T20, for all its new-found pretensions to being 'serious' cricket, remains a joke!

  • rajib mangal joshi on August 16, 2012, 5:17 GMT

    Kudos to KP and UB to make sports so much more interesting... Thank you both..

  • Sean Thorpe on August 16, 2012, 4:34 GMT

    I see great potential in T20, but antics of this sort may spell disaster, however the reason people take great risk is to garner great rewards and this might just prove useful. Pray however Usain does not get injured as that would not bode well.

  • Damo on August 23, 2012, 8:34 GMT

    Mr Hughes, you are a very funny man & I'm glad you like cricket.

  • vinod on August 23, 2012, 6:12 GMT

    Hilarious Andrew. Such decisions r a real dumbing down of cricket

  • Rohit on August 22, 2012, 7:34 GMT

    "And at least they don’t know how to text."

    But they do know how to tweet. Oh come on Andrew, you must've thought about it?

  • prem on August 17, 2012, 1:36 GMT

    andrew, u r going to watch bbl more than ever aren't u.. ?? can't wait to see bolt taking on the mid-on fielder after hitting the ball straight to him and taking a single.. !! that would be some sight...

  • Saahil on August 16, 2012, 23:16 GMT

    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. - Brilliance. A line like this demands I say more but I shall resist. Just, it's one of the great privelages of following this game that one gets to read your work. *Sorry, couldn't resist* :-)

  • Piksson on August 16, 2012, 14:20 GMT

    Another thing crossed my mind after reading the comments. I remembered a recent interview with Bolt where he talked about his plans for retirement in jamaica. Let's just say they involved much sitting around doin nothing and spending his hard earned money. If money is the most important factor for him right now I fail to see the logic. Of course he will earn more playing cricket than being a sprinter. On the forbes 100 highest-paid athletes of 2012 list I failed to find any hurdlers, sprinters, swimmers and such. On the other hand only Dhoni made the list as a cricketer and that somewhere around No 30. If Usain wishes to capitalize on his fast legs I would advise him to consider major league baseball or football, players from both of which dominate the list. Especially in MLB extremely fast players were always popular and I think in few years he could top Teixeiras earnings easily ;) Just something to think about...

  • Ash on August 16, 2012, 6:40 GMT

    To be honest, the Bolt thing is not simply a publicity stunt. He has some cricketing experience in the amateur level, and if i'm not mistaken, in a charity match once in Jamaica, if clean bowled Brian Lara for a duck. And after all, T20 is a circus, and i for once won't mind to see Bolt for more than 10 seconds on the pitch!

  • Morgan on August 16, 2012, 5:38 GMT

    Love it: "When marketing people are excited, you can be sure that the dignity of the human race is about to suffer another blow. "

    The whole Bolt thing is a bad joke, but actually reveals something else: T20, for all its new-found pretensions to being 'serious' cricket, remains a joke!

  • rajib mangal joshi on August 16, 2012, 5:17 GMT

    Kudos to KP and UB to make sports so much more interesting... Thank you both..

  • Sean Thorpe on August 16, 2012, 4:34 GMT

    I see great potential in T20, but antics of this sort may spell disaster, however the reason people take great risk is to garner great rewards and this might just prove useful. Pray however Usain does not get injured as that would not bode well.

  • marees on August 16, 2012, 4:04 GMT

    RIP KP at the altar of the "the holy team spirit" and The Church of ECB

  • Damil Alam Prakash on August 16, 2012, 3:38 GMT

    I like Bolt's action and drama. I heard he is a fast bowler. I think a bit of PR will be good for the game. I hope the same can be said about Bolt's image after his cricketing performance.

  • ali bajan on August 16, 2012, 2:58 GMT

    Bolt has played youth cricket and was a very good fast bowler ....

    he played a charity match against Gayle and Bowled him (stumps up) .....

    Honestly i'm sure Bolt is better than some of the bowlers i wee used by the WI and India ...

  • Canadian on August 16, 2012, 2:28 GMT

    Bolt plays cricket. He bowled Gayle a few months back in a match at Sabina Park. Do your homework guys!

  • Vivek on August 16, 2012, 2:08 GMT

    The Bolt thing is a bit over the top, but not insane. Here he is, taking Chris Gayle's wicket in a charity match:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nbnRwXo_vr0

    The camera angle is not great but it doesn't look like a ridiculous ball by any means.

    And here he's talking about his love for cricket: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pJfvwZFAysw

  • Anwar on August 16, 2012, 1:07 GMT

    @ Simon. It was with Chris Gayle

  • kannan on August 16, 2012, 0:48 GMT

    "When marketing people are excited, you can be sure that the dignity of the human race is about to suffer another blow" - well said..

  • Anonymous on August 15, 2012, 23:31 GMT

    Apparently Bolt is a very competent and genuinely quick bowler, at least according to an interview in (I think) The Guardian.

  • Shuaib on August 15, 2012, 22:46 GMT

    @simon, >> I am racking my brains for who it was..... Chris Gayle.

  • Shuaib on August 15, 2012, 22:44 GMT

    Absolutely funny ! Fantastic.

  • dheerajshetty on August 15, 2012, 19:22 GMT

    A fun read, well written.

  • Nick on August 15, 2012, 18:29 GMT

    Didn't Bolt bowl Chris Gayle a couple of years ago?

  • wotcha macallit on August 15, 2012, 17:13 GMT

    "When marketing people are excited, you can be sure that the dignity of the human race is about to suffer another blow." For this alone you should be given the "Most Deceptively Deep Comment in a Satirical Cricket Column Award". I don't know what that would entail, perhaps a roomful of pies with your least favourite marketing person with his/her hands tied. Carry on Andy...

  • Unmesh on August 15, 2012, 16:10 GMT

    Reading his recent pieces, it seemed like Andrew Hughes had lost his mojo. But he his back to his best with this piece..kudos. Just don't write in that "diary" format, please.

  • Anonymous on August 15, 2012, 15:42 GMT

    Thats right Simon. Bolt is a budding fast bowler in Jamaica. He actually clean bowled Chris Gayle for a duck in a charity game. He runs in though faster than he bowls (or so I heard). But what..., Michael Jordan once felt he could switch to baseball after excelling in basketball, so who knows WI could have another fearsome bowler in the making.

  • ish on August 15, 2012, 15:37 GMT

    Let us all hire psychiatrists! Amen!!

  • Anish on August 15, 2012, 15:34 GMT

    How about the Melbourne Stars need to find a way past Gayle.

  • venkatesh on August 15, 2012, 15:15 GMT

    Bolt actually bowled Chris Gayle in a game. Check out the youtube video.

  • CC on August 15, 2012, 14:22 GMT

    It was Chris Gayle, Usian clean bowled him, I believe he also hit CG's offspin for six, it might be on youtube somewhere

  • Mark on August 15, 2012, 13:24 GMT

    Something to ponder....will KP be considered to play for RSA should he get the boot from his adopted country.

  • Russi on August 15, 2012, 13:01 GMT

    @ Simon: you are correct. Gayle (yes, that Gayle), was bowled by Usain Bolt in a fete match. Imagine the headlines if that happens in a competitive match: Gayle stopped by Lightning Bolt!

  • sagir parkar on August 15, 2012, 12:50 GMT

    @Simon >>

    Bolt had played an exhibition match or so recently and bowled Chris Gayle.. not that it ranks as a feat of his supreme skill but it does say that he has had a background exposure in cricket as a teenager..

    as Andrew puts it, the administrators have a tough job on their hands to make T20 cricket both appealing and serious at the same time.. it is no wonder that the T20 leagues in India, Australia, SL and Bangladesh are considered to be silly business, when there have been some terrific performances by players. it definitely is a way to globalise the sport, parituclarly in the American market.. but then the americans have always liked their entertainment and cheerleaders.. perhaps this is just another way to entice them ;)

  • Andyzaltzmannshair on August 15, 2012, 12:41 GMT

    The Usain Bolt thing was arguably the next logical step for the direction that T20 leagues were headed in. WWE style entertainment. Characters, roles, plotlines, heros and villains. All that's left is for Shahid Afridi to jump over the fence in the middle of an Usain Bolt match to "challenge" Ricky Ponting's "bunch of clowns" as Afridi puts it, in his mic which is mysteriously hooked up to the PA, to a game of no holds barred street cricket, featuring a ladder.... Which is slightly more dangerous than street countdown.

  • mattyt on August 15, 2012, 12:33 GMT

    bolt clean bowled chris gayle in a west indian exhibition match once. not the same as professional cricket, but still pretty good

  • Piksson on August 15, 2012, 11:21 GMT

    Laughed Out Loud... But srsly, I can imagine Bolt as a T20 cricketer. 1. Besides being a runner he's one of the best overall athletes in the world, and it's always simpler to become a decent cricketer if you are already an accomplished athlete then the other way round. 2. He's already played lot's of cricket in his youth and nowdays in charity events and other occasions so it might be a good idea to put his abilities to test. 3. It's all up to melbourne people and Bolt himself to decide, I don't believe he would risk such venture if he thought he wasn't at least moderately up to it.

  • ken aziz on August 15, 2012, 11:19 GMT

    Finally, a cricket writer who recognises the true Pietersen, a star cricketeer who is also a problem child, unable to set boundaries within a professional structure, making him almost impossible to manage. And the Usain circus should it come to fruition will be another superego to contend with, especially if he puts willow to leather and bolts down the wicket as never before. Mr. Hughes, I look foward to your articles, each and every time.

  • Haroon Y. Khan on August 15, 2012, 10:59 GMT

    I remember reading Bolt's interview where he had stated that he used to able to bowl pretty fast .. and that he started running very fast after being impressed by Waqar Younis ..

  • Suresh Haridas on August 15, 2012, 10:37 GMT

    Great piece, Andrew ! Something nice and witty on Page 2 at last !

  • Jawad Zakariya on August 15, 2012, 10:36 GMT

    Bolt's thing isn't all that far fetched. He was very much into cricket before he took up sprinting. I seem to recall him mentioning in an interview that he loved Pakistan cricket and tried to emulate Waqar Younis as a young man. With his athleticism and love for cricket he might very well be quite good at it. At any rate he'd be a better spectacle than Alistair Cook and Jonathan Trott batting together.

  • AF on August 15, 2012, 10:20 GMT

    Hilarious .... Now we r talking

  • Francis Tuohy on August 15, 2012, 10:15 GMT

    Exactly my thoughts when I heard about the ludicrous idea of Bolt in T20. what an insult to actual cricketers!

  • Brent on August 15, 2012, 8:42 GMT

    Brilliantly put. Speaking of ostriches, maybe KP should bury his head for a while?

    Bolt's inclusion in the BBL is admittedly ridiculous, but therein lies the appeal for the marketers, with a strong positive relationship between the ridiculous and revenue. You'd watch it, wouldn't you?

  • koolj on August 15, 2012, 8:29 GMT

    Absolutely hilarious!!!!!!!!!!

  • Ed on August 15, 2012, 8:05 GMT

    Superb, but frightening - I can just imagine the powers that be taking a leaf from the wrestling people and assigning character roles to the players to make them official 'good guys' or 'bad guys'........

  • anand k on August 15, 2012, 7:50 GMT

    Brilliant ... was in tears laughing ...

  • Simon on August 15, 2012, 7:20 GMT

    I agree the Bolt thing is silly, but not quite as silly as it sounds. I believe he has had some exposure to cricket in Jamaica - I am racking my brains for who it was, but I am sure I read a piece by someone who faced him in a scratch game on his home island...

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  • Simon on August 15, 2012, 7:20 GMT

    I agree the Bolt thing is silly, but not quite as silly as it sounds. I believe he has had some exposure to cricket in Jamaica - I am racking my brains for who it was, but I am sure I read a piece by someone who faced him in a scratch game on his home island...

  • anand k on August 15, 2012, 7:50 GMT

    Brilliant ... was in tears laughing ...

  • Ed on August 15, 2012, 8:05 GMT

    Superb, but frightening - I can just imagine the powers that be taking a leaf from the wrestling people and assigning character roles to the players to make them official 'good guys' or 'bad guys'........

  • koolj on August 15, 2012, 8:29 GMT

    Absolutely hilarious!!!!!!!!!!

  • Brent on August 15, 2012, 8:42 GMT

    Brilliantly put. Speaking of ostriches, maybe KP should bury his head for a while?

    Bolt's inclusion in the BBL is admittedly ridiculous, but therein lies the appeal for the marketers, with a strong positive relationship between the ridiculous and revenue. You'd watch it, wouldn't you?

  • Francis Tuohy on August 15, 2012, 10:15 GMT

    Exactly my thoughts when I heard about the ludicrous idea of Bolt in T20. what an insult to actual cricketers!

  • AF on August 15, 2012, 10:20 GMT

    Hilarious .... Now we r talking

  • Jawad Zakariya on August 15, 2012, 10:36 GMT

    Bolt's thing isn't all that far fetched. He was very much into cricket before he took up sprinting. I seem to recall him mentioning in an interview that he loved Pakistan cricket and tried to emulate Waqar Younis as a young man. With his athleticism and love for cricket he might very well be quite good at it. At any rate he'd be a better spectacle than Alistair Cook and Jonathan Trott batting together.

  • Suresh Haridas on August 15, 2012, 10:37 GMT

    Great piece, Andrew ! Something nice and witty on Page 2 at last !

  • Haroon Y. Khan on August 15, 2012, 10:59 GMT

    I remember reading Bolt's interview where he had stated that he used to able to bowl pretty fast .. and that he started running very fast after being impressed by Waqar Younis ..