March 22, 2014

The problem with rugby analogies

Andrew Hughes
"With a bat in hand, I'd fancy a switch hit at this point"  © Getty Images
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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?

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

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Posted by 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.

Posted by anton1234 on (March 24, 2014, 0:27 GMT)

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

Posted by 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

Posted by   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

Posted by 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.

Posted by 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!

Posted by   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.

Posted by 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.

Posted by 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.

Posted by   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?

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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

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