March 22, 2014

The problem with rugby analogies

Giles Clarke wants English cricket to learn from the rugby team. How presumptuous
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"With a bat in hand, I'd fancy a switch hit at this point" © Getty Images

As you may have noticed, English cricket is in a bit of state at the moment. The masses are, if not revolting, then fairly close to revolting, and at a time like this, we look to the wise old men of the ECB to calm the situation, to reassure the frightened public, huddled together for warmth as we contemplate the cold, desolate post-KP future.

So on Tuesday, Chairman Giles Clarke emerged on the balcony at Lord's to address a small flock of pigeons that had gathered on the outfield in expectation of birdseed.

Giles had a simple message. He wants us to "move on". Not in a Curtis Mayfield way. By "move on" he means "stop whingeing". He wants us to move on like Tony Blair wanted us to move on after his Mesopotamian misadventure, or like Giles himself wanted us to move on after that unfortunate business with the helicopter, the crate of cash and the international fraudster.

Giles doesn't like to have to explain himself, but he did condescend to offer us a hastily assembled rugby analogy, about which I have some doubts.

Admittedly, I may not have grasped all the nuances of the egg-chasing pastime, but it appears to be a sport in which 15 hefty players roll around in the mud, from which melee, from time to time, a lone player emerges, scrambling free like a prisoner making a break for the wire, only to be hauled down again by seven or eight granite-jawed heavies

In the Lord of the Flies environment of the average rugby game, I'm sure Giles is right that there is little room for the temperamental individual genius. It's hard to display your genius, after all, when half a dozen hippo-sized men are sitting on your head.

But Giles is a shrewd chap and he will have noticed that cricket is not rugby. It isn't even a bit like rugby. Cricket is not a high- impact physical pursuit. In fact, it is barely even a physical pursuit. As I can testify, it is possible to get through a whole game of cricket without ever exerting yourself in any direction, unless you count quickening your stride to ensure that you reach the Battenberg before the rest of the throng.

Cricket is a person with a bat and a person with a ball. It is essentially an individual sport - golf without the appalling trousers - and the only reason it became a team game is that it saves time to have ten people to retrieve the ball from the outfield instead of one.

So there is plenty of room in a cricket team for a temperamental genius with a South African accent who nobody likes, particularly when he scores almost all of the runs.

The enforced and unexplained absence of Kevin Pietersen leaves a big hole in the England batting order; a big hole surrounded by some other holes. But when English cricket supporters ask why there's a big hole where Kevin Pietersen used to be, the response of Chairman Clarke is to tell them to stop asking questions and get back to waving their flags.

We've all had some fun with PCB chairmen over the years, but say what you like about the various gentlemen who've filled that role, at least they weren't there for long. Giles Clarke - Ijaz Butt with a fringe - has been around forever, chuntering and denouncing, blustering and threatening. Perhaps, if the England cricket team can do without their best player, the ECB could manage without their egregious chairman. Time to "move on", Giles?

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

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • anton1234 on March 24, 2014, 0:35 GMT

    And cricket is a team sport. It's one of the rare sports, along with baseball, where it actually combines individual and team elements in equal measure. I love the almost the gladiatorial setting between a bowler and batsman, surrounded by a pack of fielders waiting to pounce, all the while knowing you are playing for both yourself and the team. As for rugby, it always comes across as being an artificial sport, almost contrived. It's almost as of someone was watching soccer and decided let's invent a sport similar in concept but played with hand, and add a bit of violence to go with it.

  • anton1234 on March 24, 2014, 0:27 GMT

    If this is supposed to be an attempt at humour then I am not seeing it.

  • MasterBlaster100 on March 23, 2014, 22:32 GMT

    Great comments from everyone. David Campese, Shane Warne, Jason Robinson, Lawrence Dallaglio all had plenty of indiscretions. They are also world champions. Maybe Clarke is onto something.

    England need an ambitious skipper with presence prepared to lead a dressing room full of egos, one with imagination and attacking instincts. Someone like KP in fact.

    And Clive Woodward can have Clarkes job while we are at it

  • on March 23, 2014, 13:29 GMT

    Kevin Pietersen Don't You worry Dear... as time getting change every passing moments... things getting change... persons getting change...as like thinking's are getting change... Be patient hopefully you will be part of England soon. Be hopeful from GOD.we are prying for you success... wish you best of luck in every way of life.

    Regards Nasrullah Khan

  • dunger.bob on March 23, 2014, 6:52 GMT

    @ Anthony Purcell: Those were the days. A backline of half a dozen Ella's rounded off with a Campese. Excitement machine par excellence.

    re KP. I agree with the fat man. Build a bridge, get over it. He looks practically lame these days. That knee is all set to explode and I wouldn't like to be in the vicinity when it does. Could be dangerous. .. Pieterson has got 2 years left at most, you're just moving on a touch early is all.

  • njr1330 on March 23, 2014, 2:29 GMT

    Thank God Zlatan Ibrahimovich doesn't play cricket... They'd have sacked him before he even started!

  • on March 23, 2014, 1:09 GMT

    David Campese was a bit of an individual genius, he certainly didn't over-exert himself in defence. But even if you assume Mr Clarke does understand rugby it's not really the most obvious analogue for the dynamics of a cricket team. Don't know what KP did wrong - dropping a man after he scores more runs than anyone else through a test series is simply baffling. Shane Warne often didn't like Steve Waugh's tactics, and he didn't get dropped for it.

  • vallavarayar on March 22, 2014, 17:19 GMT

    English cricket and the world cricket at large need more Pietersens and less Giles. Seriously, what sort of name is Giles? I thought those names only appeared in Georgette Heyer's novels.

  • 2.14istherunrate on March 22, 2014, 13:39 GMT

    It is not KP who has the 'ego'-what he does is without a little voice telling him he is crap. It is all the little men who have massive ego's telling the likes of KP that he has come to heel and be ruled and bullied by them,not least the basket case above-Clarke of the unkempt appearance who is basically ordering people to 'B*g*er orf his estate'- which runs from J O'Groats to Landsend. No doubt he would horsewhip us minnions if he could as well as repeal the 1832 Great Reform Act.( He is probably about 10 rotten boroughs worth of 'not enough sense,too much money'). I could not give a monkeys as to how KP is in the dressing room. Let the little men sweat it out in the company of genius. It will not be the only time the untalented feel lesser in the company of the talented. Clarke should be put out somewhere and left to rot with all the other c18 vampires who think they own us all.

  • on March 22, 2014, 13:25 GMT

    Strange that Giles does remind me of rugby about the time of 1895 when the game split into two. He is the main problem at the ECB. An upper class twit who thinks he knows best but knows next to nothing of what is best for the game in the long run. He is aiming with CA and BCCI to bankrupt the other non-test federations and then to do the same to the rest as it is not fair to have paid professionals in the world of cricket he will say.

    My only question is what do we call the new cricket?

  • anton1234 on March 24, 2014, 0:35 GMT

    And cricket is a team sport. It's one of the rare sports, along with baseball, where it actually combines individual and team elements in equal measure. I love the almost the gladiatorial setting between a bowler and batsman, surrounded by a pack of fielders waiting to pounce, all the while knowing you are playing for both yourself and the team. As for rugby, it always comes across as being an artificial sport, almost contrived. It's almost as of someone was watching soccer and decided let's invent a sport similar in concept but played with hand, and add a bit of violence to go with it.

  • anton1234 on March 24, 2014, 0:27 GMT

    If this is supposed to be an attempt at humour then I am not seeing it.

  • MasterBlaster100 on March 23, 2014, 22:32 GMT

    Great comments from everyone. David Campese, Shane Warne, Jason Robinson, Lawrence Dallaglio all had plenty of indiscretions. They are also world champions. Maybe Clarke is onto something.

    England need an ambitious skipper with presence prepared to lead a dressing room full of egos, one with imagination and attacking instincts. Someone like KP in fact.

    And Clive Woodward can have Clarkes job while we are at it

  • on March 23, 2014, 13:29 GMT

    Kevin Pietersen Don't You worry Dear... as time getting change every passing moments... things getting change... persons getting change...as like thinking's are getting change... Be patient hopefully you will be part of England soon. Be hopeful from GOD.we are prying for you success... wish you best of luck in every way of life.

    Regards Nasrullah Khan

  • dunger.bob on March 23, 2014, 6:52 GMT

    @ Anthony Purcell: Those were the days. A backline of half a dozen Ella's rounded off with a Campese. Excitement machine par excellence.

    re KP. I agree with the fat man. Build a bridge, get over it. He looks practically lame these days. That knee is all set to explode and I wouldn't like to be in the vicinity when it does. Could be dangerous. .. Pieterson has got 2 years left at most, you're just moving on a touch early is all.

  • njr1330 on March 23, 2014, 2:29 GMT

    Thank God Zlatan Ibrahimovich doesn't play cricket... They'd have sacked him before he even started!

  • on March 23, 2014, 1:09 GMT

    David Campese was a bit of an individual genius, he certainly didn't over-exert himself in defence. But even if you assume Mr Clarke does understand rugby it's not really the most obvious analogue for the dynamics of a cricket team. Don't know what KP did wrong - dropping a man after he scores more runs than anyone else through a test series is simply baffling. Shane Warne often didn't like Steve Waugh's tactics, and he didn't get dropped for it.

  • vallavarayar on March 22, 2014, 17:19 GMT

    English cricket and the world cricket at large need more Pietersens and less Giles. Seriously, what sort of name is Giles? I thought those names only appeared in Georgette Heyer's novels.

  • 2.14istherunrate on March 22, 2014, 13:39 GMT

    It is not KP who has the 'ego'-what he does is without a little voice telling him he is crap. It is all the little men who have massive ego's telling the likes of KP that he has come to heel and be ruled and bullied by them,not least the basket case above-Clarke of the unkempt appearance who is basically ordering people to 'B*g*er orf his estate'- which runs from J O'Groats to Landsend. No doubt he would horsewhip us minnions if he could as well as repeal the 1832 Great Reform Act.( He is probably about 10 rotten boroughs worth of 'not enough sense,too much money'). I could not give a monkeys as to how KP is in the dressing room. Let the little men sweat it out in the company of genius. It will not be the only time the untalented feel lesser in the company of the talented. Clarke should be put out somewhere and left to rot with all the other c18 vampires who think they own us all.

  • on March 22, 2014, 13:25 GMT

    Strange that Giles does remind me of rugby about the time of 1895 when the game split into two. He is the main problem at the ECB. An upper class twit who thinks he knows best but knows next to nothing of what is best for the game in the long run. He is aiming with CA and BCCI to bankrupt the other non-test federations and then to do the same to the rest as it is not fair to have paid professionals in the world of cricket he will say.

    My only question is what do we call the new cricket?

  • steve48 on March 22, 2014, 9:50 GMT

    Was so outraged by Clarke, here I am posting again! The most annoying thing about the rugby analogy is actually not that he is inaccurately comparing a real team sport, involving group moves and strategy to a largely individual game, but that it is simply not true that rugby teams leave their best players out for not conforming! Sonny Bill Williams turned his back on the All Blacks to return to rugby league, and do some boxing, but if he returns to rugby union and plays well, he will be back in an All Black shirt for next years world cup. Why? Because they want to win! Talented players are only banished in rugby for flaws in their game or bad off field behaviour. As to being told to move on, we should, to watching athletics! Astounding arrogance to chastise the paying public..

  • Rawal on March 22, 2014, 8:40 GMT

    Hahahaha! Some insane stuff! You are simply brilliant at comedy!

  • SagirParkar on March 22, 2014, 7:15 GMT

    probably ECB's worst decision ever.. Even though KP comes with huge dollops of ego and self-centricism, he repeatedly bailed England out of some very murky holes.. and leaving him out of the squad has led to a downward spiral in the team's fortunes..

    ohh the irony of it all if Delhi win the IPL !

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  • SagirParkar on March 22, 2014, 7:15 GMT

    probably ECB's worst decision ever.. Even though KP comes with huge dollops of ego and self-centricism, he repeatedly bailed England out of some very murky holes.. and leaving him out of the squad has led to a downward spiral in the team's fortunes..

    ohh the irony of it all if Delhi win the IPL !

  • Rawal on March 22, 2014, 8:40 GMT

    Hahahaha! Some insane stuff! You are simply brilliant at comedy!

  • steve48 on March 22, 2014, 9:50 GMT

    Was so outraged by Clarke, here I am posting again! The most annoying thing about the rugby analogy is actually not that he is inaccurately comparing a real team sport, involving group moves and strategy to a largely individual game, but that it is simply not true that rugby teams leave their best players out for not conforming! Sonny Bill Williams turned his back on the All Blacks to return to rugby league, and do some boxing, but if he returns to rugby union and plays well, he will be back in an All Black shirt for next years world cup. Why? Because they want to win! Talented players are only banished in rugby for flaws in their game or bad off field behaviour. As to being told to move on, we should, to watching athletics! Astounding arrogance to chastise the paying public..

  • on March 22, 2014, 13:25 GMT

    Strange that Giles does remind me of rugby about the time of 1895 when the game split into two. He is the main problem at the ECB. An upper class twit who thinks he knows best but knows next to nothing of what is best for the game in the long run. He is aiming with CA and BCCI to bankrupt the other non-test federations and then to do the same to the rest as it is not fair to have paid professionals in the world of cricket he will say.

    My only question is what do we call the new cricket?

  • 2.14istherunrate on March 22, 2014, 13:39 GMT

    It is not KP who has the 'ego'-what he does is without a little voice telling him he is crap. It is all the little men who have massive ego's telling the likes of KP that he has come to heel and be ruled and bullied by them,not least the basket case above-Clarke of the unkempt appearance who is basically ordering people to 'B*g*er orf his estate'- which runs from J O'Groats to Landsend. No doubt he would horsewhip us minnions if he could as well as repeal the 1832 Great Reform Act.( He is probably about 10 rotten boroughs worth of 'not enough sense,too much money'). I could not give a monkeys as to how KP is in the dressing room. Let the little men sweat it out in the company of genius. It will not be the only time the untalented feel lesser in the company of the talented. Clarke should be put out somewhere and left to rot with all the other c18 vampires who think they own us all.

  • vallavarayar on March 22, 2014, 17:19 GMT

    English cricket and the world cricket at large need more Pietersens and less Giles. Seriously, what sort of name is Giles? I thought those names only appeared in Georgette Heyer's novels.

  • on March 23, 2014, 1:09 GMT

    David Campese was a bit of an individual genius, he certainly didn't over-exert himself in defence. But even if you assume Mr Clarke does understand rugby it's not really the most obvious analogue for the dynamics of a cricket team. Don't know what KP did wrong - dropping a man after he scores more runs than anyone else through a test series is simply baffling. Shane Warne often didn't like Steve Waugh's tactics, and he didn't get dropped for it.

  • njr1330 on March 23, 2014, 2:29 GMT

    Thank God Zlatan Ibrahimovich doesn't play cricket... They'd have sacked him before he even started!

  • dunger.bob on March 23, 2014, 6:52 GMT

    @ Anthony Purcell: Those were the days. A backline of half a dozen Ella's rounded off with a Campese. Excitement machine par excellence.

    re KP. I agree with the fat man. Build a bridge, get over it. He looks practically lame these days. That knee is all set to explode and I wouldn't like to be in the vicinity when it does. Could be dangerous. .. Pieterson has got 2 years left at most, you're just moving on a touch early is all.

  • on March 23, 2014, 13:29 GMT

    Kevin Pietersen Don't You worry Dear... as time getting change every passing moments... things getting change... persons getting change...as like thinking's are getting change... Be patient hopefully you will be part of England soon. Be hopeful from GOD.we are prying for you success... wish you best of luck in every way of life.

    Regards Nasrullah Khan