John Stern
John Stern John SternRSS FeedFeeds  | Archives
Editor, The Wisden Cricketer

The tapping-up controversy

The tap which opened the floodgates

The tapping up controversy in English cricket

John Stern

June 2, 2005

Text size: A | A

Ashley Cole: guilty © Getty Images

The outcry was understandable, but did the punishment fit the crime? Everyone knows that tapping up goes on, but when the teams involved are sworn enemies and the player so high-profile, there are bound to be vicious recriminations. No wonder David Graveney said he was "disappointed".

English cricket must learn from this fiasco. Football has managed to sustain months of front- and back-page newspaper coverage about a tea party in a posh London hotel. And then some people - Ashley Cole, Jose Mourinho and Chelsea - get fined lots of money and the lawyers kick it all off again, guaranteeing months more media frenzy. Impressive. The best cricket can manage when Graham Thorpe announces he's going to New South Wales is the chairman of selectors raising an eyebrow. Must do better, chaps. The future of the game's at stake.

But what about the reaction in Sydney? What does the signing of a 35-year-old English batsman with a dodgy back and a lisp whose team have just been penalised for ball-tampering say about the state of Australian cricket?

Desperation? Disarray? That's putting it mildly. New South Wales must be in danger of expulsion from the Pura Cup for opening the floodgates to a talent drain of ageing Poms. Goughie could be next, strutting along in Surfer's Paradise as player-physio for the Queensland Bulls. Kevin Pietersen says he looks up to Darren Gough and all Australians seem to be worshipping Pietersen at the moment so it seems inevitable.

Why do New South Wales need a Pom like Graham Thorpe to help them out? © Getty Images

"Why do we need a Pom to help us out when we've just won the Pura Cup and there is plenty of young talent to foster and develop?" wrote Steve Waugh in his newspaper column last week, displaying all the sort of short-sighted, head-in-the-sand thinking we've come to expect from a man who won only 41 out of 57 matches as captain of Australia. Waugh turns 40 today. Maybe age is catching up with him. Bless.

You can smell the fear in Waugh's words, but he will doubtless have changed his tune when Thorpe hits the winning runs at The Oval to complete England's regaining of the Ashes. You can hear it now. "We're delighted to welcome such a legend of the world game to assist us. There's a lot of work that needs to be done in our cricket and there's a long learning process ahead but we're confident Graham Thorpe blah blah ..."

It's conceivable, of course, that Thorpe may not complete the Ashes series. He may not need to. England may feel that by the fourth Test at Trent Bridge, say, it's time to blood Pietersen, to let him find his feet at Test level when the Ashes are already in the bag. That seems the most plausible scenario, when Thorpe has nurdled and nudged Shane Warne down to fine leg once too often so all that fragile confidence has drained from the Hampshire captain.

So, it's Graham Thorpe's 100th Test and Steve Waugh's 40th birthday. Soon they'll be on the same side. And Waugh will be glad of it.

John Stern is editor of The Wisden Cricketer

RSS Feeds: John Stern

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

Email Feedback Print
John SternClose
John Stern John Stern is editor of the Wisden Cricketer, the world's largest selling cricket magazine. Having cut his journalistic teeth at the legendary Reg Hayter's sports-writing academy in Fleet Street, he spent four years on the county treadmill for the London Times. He joined Wisden in 2001 and was deputy editor of Wisden Cricket Monthly at the time of its merger with the Cricketer in 2003 to form TWC.

    It's not the plan, stupid

Ed Smith: Good performances make all plans look good. The better team on the day always wins, irrespective of what was strategised in the dressing room

    What is Rohit Sharma's role?

Should India have practised slip catching in the nets? Who will play at the G?

    'I'd like to have faced the West Indies quicks'

Northamptonshire's David Willey picks his ideal partner for a jungle expedition, and talks about his famous dad

    Benn shows up in body and spirit

Tony Cozier: The spinner has brought in a sense of discipline into his bowling and behaviour on the field since his Test comeback

The charm of the Boxing Day Test

Jonathan Wilson: It's special not just for the cricket, but also because it satisfies one of the tenets of Christmas - bringing people together

News | Features Last 7 days

What ails Rohit and Watson?

Both batsmen seemingly have buckets of talent at their disposal and the backing of their captains, but soft dismissals relentlessly follow both around the Test arena

Hazlewood completes quartet of promise

Josh Hazlewood has been on Australian cricket's radar since he was a teenager. The player that made a Test debut at the Gabba was a much-improved version of the tearaway from 2010

Australia in good hands under proactive Smith

The new stand-in captain has the makings of a long-term leader, given his ability to stay ahead of the game

Karn struggles to stay afloat

The failed gamble of handing Karn Sharma a Test debut despite him having a moderate first-class record means India have to rethink who their spinner will be

Vijay 144, Ganguly 144

Stats highlights from the first day of the second Test between Australia and India in Brisbane

News | Features Last 7 days