Did they just tell Angelo Mathews he's fat?
Have you ever been in trouble at work? Maybe you didn't quite make that sales target one month. Maybe you drank too much at the company outing and vomited on your manager's children. Or perhaps you write a monthly satire column for a major cricket website and you miss your submission deadline pretty much every month despite frequent reminders from your editors. Well, as it turns out, cricket's international players and coaches are just as likely as any of us to be on rough terms with their superiors, except with much higher salaries and way more fragile egos. The Briefing takes a look.
Sending a message
Sri Lanka took their self-destruction world tour to the UAE this month, where they were thrashed by Bangladesh and then Afghanistan, and exited the Asia Cup in the first round. The aftermath of that early departure has perhaps been even more controversial than the losses themselves. Soon after the team returned to the island, the selectors and coach Chandika Hathurusingha called captain Angelo Mathews into a meeting, asked him to resign from his post, stripped him of the captaincy when he refused to do so, dropped him from the ODI squad entirely 48 hours later, and then publicly called into question his fitness and announced that his frequent run-outs were a "world record", which is the most roundabout and elaborate fashion in which to tell somebody they are fat.
Someone else whose relationship with employers recently broke down was coach Steve Rixon, who has been credited with improving Pakistan's fielding over the past year, but who has now called the Pakistan Cricket Board "stupid" - among other things - after having left his position at the end of June. Maybe you will recall the Pakistan board is not the only one to earn Rixon's ire. Over the years he has also shellacked Cricket Australia and Sri Lanka Cricket. Take the quiz below to see if you can work out which Rixon verbal spanking goes with which cricket board.
If you want an example of a perfect employee, look no further than India head coach Ravi Shastri, who is never short of nice words about top dog Virat Kohli, or the current India team. Shastri did, however, gain the displeasure of former captain Sourav Ganguly this month, after Shastri had claimed the present team was India's best side over the last 15 years. Ganguly labelled that comment "immature" but should he really have been surprised? At this stage, Shastri is in an escalating competition with himself to deliver the most glowing praise possible about Kohli and the India team. You imagine you could ask him anything and he would gush. Is this the best pace attack India has ever had? "By a mile. No team even comes close." How great a fighter is Kohli? "Would have thrashed Muhammad Ali in his prime." How well does Kohli reverse pressure on the opposition? "Puh. If the guy in Titanic had been a fraction as proactive as this India captain, he would have scored in the first ten minutes of the movie itself."
Yeah, so maybe let this one go, Sourav.
A "misheard" word
Someone who escaped an employer's censure this month was the unnamed Australia player who Moeen Ali alleged had once called him "Osama" in a Test in Cardiff, with the accused claiming the word he had actually used was "part-timer". No action was taken by Cricket Australia, despite investigation by their integrity unit, which we must not imagine as two guys in suits repeatedly asking, "Didja say it, mate? Well, didja?"
The non-shocking repeat offender
In January, Bangladesh batsman Sabbir Rahman was found to have taken a child behind a sightscreen in a domestic match, and physically assaulted the said child, for supposedly "making a noise" that the batsman didn't like. Sabbir was suspended from domestic cricket for six months and stripped of his central contract, but strangely, was allowed to continue playing international cricket. If you thought that punishment was insufficient, Sabbir has more recently taken it upon himself to be suspended from internationals as well. Having abused another fan, presumably an adult, and this time only on Facebook, he now faces a separate international ban of six months.
Next month on The Briefing:
- "It's beyond amateurish. No one knows what they are doing, and it's just a shocking lack of competence." - Steve Rixon watches toddlers play with a football at local park.
- Justin Langer's application for senior-citizen discounts rejected. Has to be told he can't add his playing years to his overall age, because the former is included in the latter.
- Coach Chandika Hathurusingha points to the worn suspension on the team bus as further explanation for why Mathews was dropped.
Andrew Fidel Fernando is ESPNcricinfo's Sri Lanka correspondent. @afidelf