June 22, 2013

The smartness in not punching other cricketers

What's Mickey Arthur going on about? And should we be sympathetic to him?

Like young children, cricketers appear to live in their own little world. They get to play bat and ball all day; whenever they speak, adults gather round in hushed silence holding digital devices to record their every word, and other people are always tidying up their mess.

Yet you can't pander too much to the little darlings. Just as when you see a harassed father in the supermarket giving in to little Johnnie's desire to have that Star Wars toy that five minutes ago he was told in no uncertain terms was without the bounds of previously agreed spending limits; so the parents among us were shaking our heads when we heard what Mickey Arthur had to say this week about the Warner temper-tantrum hoopla.

"That's part and parcel of touring England. You've got to be very street smart, you've got to be on your game, and if you don't, the media and the ECB will have a field day with you."

Defending the ECB comes as naturally to me as the hook shot does to Suresh Raina, but I can't let this particular bouncer go by without having a swish. In the aftermath of David Warner attacking a member of the England team, for the ECB to put out a statement saying that David Warner attacked a member of the England team is not a Machiavellian tactic, or at least, if it is, it's from Chapter One of The Prince, entitled "Easy Wins".

You can't really blame the media either. It may be that, compared to the Brazilian riots, the Afghan war and Kim Kardashian's baby, "cricketer punches cricketer" is not proper news, but for cricket journalists, whose job consists of regurgitating quotes, eulogising about whoever has just scored a century, or telling us what we could work out for ourselves by looking at the scorecard, "cricketer punches cricketer" is, as they say, fair dinkum news.

So I'm not sure David needs to be "street smart". He doesn't even need to aim for "smart". Just don't punch anybody while on tour. This is comparatively easy to remember. Most of us can get through the day without punching someone; indeed, David has spent most of his adult life not punching people, so he can't really say he has no experience.

Mickey's rather desperate attempt to stick up for wee Davey reminds me of the fairy-story excuses that some people try to slip by us whenever a cricketer is caught accepting envelopes full of cash from strangers in return for bowling no-balls. It's all about education, they say. Pull the other one, we say.

Still, in a spirit of pre-Ashes generosity, we should have some sympathy for Mickey. He isn't exactly in the role of parent here. He's the activity group leader charged with entertaining a group of mixed-ability children on a day trip. He has to try to keep them happy, boost their self-esteem, and make sure they all get along so that his day isn't spent sorting out squabbles, mopping up vomit, searching for runaways, or trying to stop the other kids from teasing Shane because he didn't want to go on the ghost train.

Andrew Hughes is a writer currently based in England. He tweets here