August 30, 2013

Flower denies urine culture threatening team

Coach defends players' right to relieve themselves in public

England team director Andy Flower denied suggestions that a rampant culture of public urination was threatening the fabric of the side after England's cricketers took turns urinating on the Oval pitch following the fifth Ashes Test. The news comes only three weeks after Monty Panesar was arrested for urinating on nightclub bouncers in Brighton, and two months after Australia were forced to contend with suggestions there was something amiss about their own team culture.

"Look, it's no secret that our players like to urinate after a good series," Flower said. "They've earned that right, and as professional sportsmen, it's important that they empty their bladder from time to time. As long as they are not urinating long into the night before a match, I am quite happy with how the boys are relieving themselves."

Members of the English media have also floated the notion that being a Zimbabwean, Flower does not understand the British urination culture, and is incapable of reining in players who indulge in regular tinkle binges.

"I don't think that's fair," Flower said. "Having been to Cardiff on a Saturday night, I feel I have a pretty good grasp on how much Brits enjoy whipping out their genitals to spray public spaces with their refuse."

Flower admitted, however, that the England management was aware that certain team members pushed urination boundaries more than others, and said they had taken steps to maintain some control over the matter.

"There are all different personalities in a cricket team, and some of our guys just see a cricket pitch and have a difficult time resisting. We've begun to add chemicals to all the pitches we train on, so that they turn blue when someone pees on it. We've also asked our bus driver to avoid routes with any babbling brooks and waterfalls, should such things inspire impromptu urination in the ranks."

England's players have since apologised but have denied claims there is a urination problem in the team. One player said that in the dark, he mistook a pitch on which Jonathan Trott had marked his guard for a urinal trough in a public restroom, while another claimed he was rushing back home to rescue his cat from under his floorboards and had no time to bother with such minutiae as disposing of his waste in an acceptable receptacle.

Australia's groundsmen have been alerted to the situation and have banned the sprinkler celebration from all grounds for the return Ashes series, which begins in November. News from the Australia team, however, is that they have devised a promising strategy with which they might counter dry English tracks on their next visit to the UK.

Urination has long had its place in English cricket, and tales of players' urination antics have become part of the game's folklore. En route to the 1986-87 Ashes series in Australia, Graham Gooch is said to have urinated 52 times, as his team-mates excitedly egged him on.

Andrew Fidel Fernando is ESPNcricinfo's Sri Lanka correspondent. He tweets here
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