November 10, 2012

Australia

The dummy dossier

Andrew Hughes
Hashim Amla bats during practice, Brisbane, November 7, 2012
Hashim Amla is bewildered by the sight of the Australians falling over themselves to tie his shoelaces  © Getty Images
Enlarge

RELATED LINKS

If history teaches us one thing, it's that human beings just can't be trusted. A civil servant leaves James Bond's Health and Safety Risk Assessment on the 5:47 to Waterloo. With the goal at his mercy, the Bolivian superstar you backed to score the winner trips over his bootlaces and dislocates his pony tail. You warn your co-pilot that on no account should he press that red button, but as soon as you leave the cockpit, you know what will happen.

So we shouldn't be surprised that so many top-secret cricket dossiers end up in the newspapers. Australia's latest is called "Beating South Africa For Dummies" (subtitled: "Or At Least Not Losing Too Badly To South Africa. For Dummies.")

It includes some helpful identification photographs for the younger Australian bowlers who might not recognise Graeme Smith, AB De Villiers or Jacques Kallis, although the South African batting averages are not mentioned, since that might discourage them.

The plan contained in the dossier is a highly sophisticated, completely foolproof strategy for ensuring total Australian supremacy:

1. Look cross 2. Swear a lot 3. Bowl short

Cynics have suggested that, apart from the absence of any mention of growing moustaches or unfastening your top three shirt buttons, this is the same secret plan that Australia have been using for the last 40 years.

There's another problem. Preparing fast bouncy pitches because you've got a lot of fast, bouncy bowlers makes sense, until you remember that South Africa's bowlers are even faster and bouncier. Should you insist on playing to your strengths if your strengths are the same strengths as your opponent' strengths, only not as strong? You might fancy yourself as a bit of a speedster, you might be able to beat all your co-workers in the race for the last doughnut in the cafeteria, but if you wanted to beat Usain Bolt at something, would it be a good idea to invite him to a "running for a short distance in a straight line" contest?

But hang on a moment. What if all is not as it seems? What if this is not really a secret dossier at all, but a plant, a double bluff, a three-card shuffle?

Throughout history, misinformation has been used as a weapon. In 1944 the Allies allowed the Germans to intercept a dossier detailing their plan to unleash a 20-tonne Edam cheese that would roll slowly southwards across the Ruhr crushing everything in its path. (Field Marshall Montgomery's rival plan, involving a 30-foot chunk of Stilton and a catapault, was included at Appendix B).

Perhaps they won't pepper Jacques with nostril-ticklers. Perhaps the pitches will turn out not to be fast and bouncy, but slow and sleepy. Perhaps Pattinson, Siddle and Hilfenhaus will be revealed as Brad Hogg, Xavier Doherty and Nathan Hauritz wearing prosthetic faces, and South Africa will be undone by some moderately capable spin bowling.

And perhaps they won't be rude to Hashim after all. Instead, they will applaud him to the crease, enquire frequently after his health and serve him dainty end-of-over pastries on a little silver tray. Few things are more disorientating on a cricket tour of Australia than politeness. Faced with this insidious civility, he will surely crack. And then, once again, Australia will rule the world…

Andrew Hughes is a writer currently based in England

RSS Feeds: Andrew Hughes

Keywords: Mindgames

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

Posted by Anonymous on (November 10, 2012, 23:37 GMT)

Polite aussies? That would shake the world. :)

Posted by Toby Chadd on (November 10, 2012, 18:17 GMT)

Micky Arthur has got in on the act. Serving Amla pastries on a silver tray is not a million miles away from his recent claim that the second new ball is the Aussie trump card (next he'll say that they planned not to take wickets with the first new ball, such is their strength with the second...)

Toby Chadd Reverse Swept Radio

Posted by kathy on (November 10, 2012, 15:52 GMT)

LOL and Double LOL! Mai therry abaht the dinosaur, I mean dossier is ... aHem! (with pologies to a comedian from years of yore), that it was planted by some cricketing journalist(s) who had checked out the weather forecast and realised that they were about to face a 24-hour drought. Not of rain but of news. The dossier would therefore give them something to write jokey articles about, while the teams languished in a hotel watching the rain hit the windows, and their loyal readership yawned and moaned about growing cricket-deprivation.

Nice article! Keep on keeping calm.

Posted by jose on (November 10, 2012, 15:16 GMT)

Here is another very important "dozier", flowered in the English garden. Hope it will be fruitful for the English team

1.Gambhir: Don’t bounce. Don’t even try to york. Just swing. Mostly out-swingers. An occasional in-swinger will help. He may hit a few to the cow corner. But surely will poke one into the slip’s hands, or play one on to his stumps.

2. Veeru: Just bounce, make him upper cut. He may hit a few for six. Soon enough, he will get the elevation and not the distance. Presto, he will be out. Keep a fielder at deep point, who can run in any direction to pouch the skier.

3. Pujara: Another wall. You want to buy? He doesn’t sell! Wait for a mistake. Hope, his inexperience will do it for you.

Posted by tj on (November 10, 2012, 10:28 GMT)

"There’s another problem. Preparing fast bouncy pitches because you’ve got a lot of fast, bouncy bowlers makes sense, until you remember that South Africa’s bowlers are even faster and bouncier. Should you insist on playing to your strengths if your strengths are the same strengths as your opponent’ strengths, only not as strong"

LOL

Posted by Steven murphy on (November 10, 2012, 9:44 GMT)

Do you really think we care that much about you?

Posted by Krish on (November 10, 2012, 7:53 GMT)

You forgot the 'bwahahaha' at the end. ;)

Comments have now been closed for this article

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

All articles by this writer