December 22, 2012

The international cricket apprenticeship scheme

Is it working as well as it should? Ajinkya Rahane may disagree

Test matches are all very well, but they do drag on, so on Thursday, it was nice to see the return of some exciting cricket. Pune's international debut also gave us a rare sighting of the Lesser Spotted Rahane in full international plumage. Despite being widely considered one of the more successful of its species, the precocious Rahane is only usually seen after dark, attracted by the floodlights and crowds of T20.

On the whole, apprenticeships are a good thing. Take plumbing. You wouldn't want some teenager who's only just learned how to tie his shoelaces messing around with your boiler. Carpenters, ship-builders, camel-trainers, Royal moustache-comb bearers; all have to practice until they have perfected their craft. Even Napoleon had to wait until he'd racked up enough dead bodies before he got to be dictator.

But the International Cricket Apprenticeship Scheme that Rahane has signed up for is starting to look a bit dubious. Yuvraj, Rohit, Raina, Pujara, Yuvraj again and even Jadeja have all been given a go ahead of him. Jadeja is a fine young man. He has curly hair, he can do a bit of everything and he plays for Chennai. But when it comes to dispatching the little leather ball with the long willowy thing, Rahane is surely better.

The deputy Little-Master-in-waiting is also a bit of a whizz at T20, which is, after all, what pays the bills. On Thursday he got a little carried away after some characteristically eye-boggling biffery, but it didn't matter because Yuvraj is an even bigger biffer of the ball. He launched a few in the general direction of the moon and prompted my new favourite Shastri-ism:

"Goes again. Effortless. Flat as a tank."

Flat as a tank? Anyone know what was going through Ravi's brain at that moment? In my experience, tanks are not particularly flat, unless they've been run over by another tank. Perhaps threatened by the arrival of newer younger commentators into the booth, he's escalating the military metaphor race by upgrading from tracer bullets to armoured vehicles.

England lost, as expected, but some of them are beginning to make a name for themselves. Luke Wright, for example, isn't the Luke Wright you used to know; the "four heaves and a miss" hero of yore; he's now an international biffer of distinction and his heaves, though just as reminiscent of the farmyard as ever, are now much more expensive.

Lumb, Hales and Patel might also have had a chance of featuring in the IPL's bargain bin come auction time, but Nottinghamshire have told them they aren't allowed to come out to play in the spring. They have to stay home. This is the equivalent of being told that you can't go to that all-night party everyone's talking about; the one with the free alcohol, the swimming pool full of jelly and the super models, because you promised to visit your grandmother.

Lumb and chums will do their duty, but they'll sulk the whole time, they won't be on their best behaviour and at the first opportunity, they'll be out of there. And who can blame them?

Andrew Hughes is a writer currently based in England

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • testli5504537 on January 9, 2013, 20:39 GMT

    While the phrase "Flat as a tank" brings laughter, Ravi is not the first one to use it. The great late Tony has used it twice in the famous SA Vs Aus, 434 chasing match. Listen at 19.20 minute in the following you tube video to hear it your self.

    Wonder what Andrew might have told to Tony if he had heard it then....

  • testli5504537 on December 24, 2012, 12:02 GMT

    "Flat as a tank " the whole paragraph after that. Superb!

    was reading it in office and burst out laughing ! Shastri used the Scud missile in the 2nd T20

  • testli5504537 on December 24, 2012, 6:16 GMT

    Even Andrew Hughes knows about the Chennai-lobby in Indian cricket!

  • testli5504537 on December 23, 2012, 2:24 GMT

    Lesser spotted Rahane.. lolz!

  • testli5504537 on December 22, 2012, 17:30 GMT

    I feel pity for Ajinkya...One of the most unlucky fellow.. knocking door of Indian test team from last 3-4 years but always ignored...instead of giving chance in test team, they give him chance in t20 or ODIs that too once in a blue moon and expect him to perform well.. Felt really bad when Jadeja was given chance ahead of him in the last test against england? May be Ajinkya should be in the chennai superkings team in the IPL to get chance in the test team... give him chance to play in the tests (not as an opener, he is more of a middle order batsman ), assure him his place in the team for 5-7 tests and then we will get the next no. 4 batsman for India...

  • testli5504537 on December 22, 2012, 13:46 GMT

    The bit on Shastri is hilarious :) yup could be young commentators who have played better cricket could be the reason to search for newer ammunition.

  • testli5504537 on December 22, 2012, 11:48 GMT

    "Flat as a tank" ...Shastri reaches new highs in his commentary... enjoyed your musings as always Andrew!

  • testli5504537 on December 22, 2012, 11:27 GMT

    I really would like to see some england cricket player's taking part in I P L Without england I P L looks dull.

  • testli5504537 on December 22, 2012, 10:11 GMT

    flat as a tank !!!!!!! lol this is awesome

  • testli5504537 on December 22, 2012, 9:50 GMT

    Rohit has never got an opportunity (in tests), hence it is mischevious to further the belief that he has been preferred over Rahane.

    Cricket apprentices also develop their arm muscles by fetching water and sometimes the cricket gear of their betters (Sometimes this may not work out- Remember the failed apprenticeship of Saurav Ganguly)

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