November 3, 2012

You gotta feel sorry for cricketers

Andrew Hughes
Michael Beer celebrates a wicket with Luke Ronchi, Auckland Aces v Perth Scorchers, Champions League T20, Centurion, October 23, 2012
The harsh punishment meted out to the errant Scorchers players was to know the backs of their hands as well as they knew the backs of South Africa's bars  © Getty Images
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You may think the IPL is the chilled glass of Bollinger in the exclusive bar at the pinnacle of Mount Entertainment; the epitome of cricket loveliness; an extravaganza of celebrity-waving, million-dollar slog-sweeps and enormous foam fingers.

But it has an unpleasant underbelly. No, I don't mean Dermot Reeve. Every November, when the franchises think no one is looking, they launch a secret cull. Dozens of cricketers are cut loose. Some of them find out by text. Others are not so fortunate.

"I didn't even get a chance to warn my wife," said one Australian who nearly played in a Test match. "She came down to breakfast one morning, tears streaming down her face. I asked her what was wrong. She said, "Is it true that the Cutack Colonoscopies don't want you to carry the isotonic drinks out for them at the strategy break anymore? Oh darling, what will we tell the children?"

Many Australians, dreaming of a fresh start in a country where spiders don't nest in your toilet, were lured to the IPL with the promise of lots of money, free sunglasses, and lots of money. Now, abandoned by their franchises, their careers have hit rock bottom. Many will have to go back to playing Sheffield Shield cricket. Cricket charities fear some might even resort to hanging around the County Championship, hoping to get a game.

Of all the franchises indulging in this frenzy of payroll prunage, it's no surprise to see that Hyderabad Name-To-Be-Announced have released 13 players, although it is a slight surprise to see they've kept 20. Pune's list of rejects is even longer, a who's who of last year's fashionable dashers, bashers and flingers, the results of an orgy of shopping, now all out on the pavement. How much for this Ryder? What about Stevie, is he still the new Shane? Oh that's where Tamim went, I wondered what had happened to him.

You have to feel sorry for cricketers; if it isn't franchises dumping you on the T20 scrap heap, it's administrators going all 17th century on you. This week we discovered that the spirit of Oliver Cromwell lives on at the WACA, where the naughty seat is now a naughty bench on which an entire squad of Scorchers will be spending ther weekend, reflecting on how they let themselves, their state, their grandparents and their goldfish down.

Well, not all of them. Nathan Coulter-Nile didn't take part in the festivities in Centurion. In a previous era of Australian cricket, this would have marked him out as a bit of a problem, a poseur, a bloke not to be trusted by other blokes. And 30 years ago, a drinking session so epic that it not only wiped out the next day's training session, but the following day's as well, might have been marked by a presentation, a silver trophy and a celebratory crate of ales.

But this is 2012.

"A full and independent review will be carried out to identify underlying issues that may be impacting on teams representing the WACA. A code of conduct and behavioural guidelines will be developed with education opportunities identified and resources made available to both players and staff. There will also be an individual focus on counselling strategies as needed for members of the playing group."

Strewth. No wonder they turn to drink.

Andrew Hughes is a writer currently based in England

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Posted by Si on (November 7, 2012, 2:24 GMT)

The WACA front office is rubbing its hands in glee at the latest player indiscretions. The board had been told that a Code of Conduct review panel was mandatory in the puritan 21st century, but alas, they'd had nothing to do for years. The WACA fixture between their Revellers XI and the Code Conductors XXXI will be a 'must see' for all future sports administrators, high performance managers and level C5 or higher monitors of sports people enjoying their jobs too much.

Posted by John on (November 6, 2012, 15:36 GMT)

Coulter-nile didn't attend due to illness. Pretty sure he has a fairly strong drinking past...

Posted by TD_160 on (November 4, 2012, 1:33 GMT)

Andrew, when will you stop poking fun at T20? It ceased to be funny about a year ago.

Posted by SC13159 on (November 3, 2012, 22:43 GMT)

No need to feel sorry when players are released. IPL is extra for them. Extra work. Extra fun. Extra money. For 50 days. Rest of the 300 days is their regular employment, working for their respective boards.

Posted by ish on (November 3, 2012, 13:30 GMT)

Hilarious! Ya, no wonder cricketers turn to drink under the amount of pressure they've been put through by administrators, sponsors, franchises, fans, media and all... And also, with the amount of cricket we're being supposed to watch nowadays, it's likely that us fans will have to take into drinking too!! =)

Posted by Shuvo Brahmachari on (November 3, 2012, 12:43 GMT)

If you think spiders don't nest in Indian toilets, think again. How do you think Cuttack Colonoscopies got their name?

Posted by Akheel on (November 3, 2012, 8:02 GMT)

"Cutack Colonoscopies"? you,Sir, simply, unsalvageable!

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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

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