International cricketers are miserable too

Think your life's a drudge and a chore? Well, join the queue, why don't you?

Andrew Hughes

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Shane Watson is swarmed by reporters in Sydney, March 12, 2013
"… And then they wrenched my PlayStation from my hands, just like that" © Getty Images
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Being an international cricketer sounds like fun. Stretching your calves on first-class flights, tweeting about some tatty vehicle you're being paid to like, launching into the occasional burst of activity on a field, offering a few platitudes for the cameras, then being driven back to a five-star hotel for the serious business of ordering exotic snacks from room service and beating your personal best on Celebrity Mole Catcher 2013.

It's a small comfort to us, as we haul our sorry carcasses across town in flu-ridden buses and queue with the other early-morning zombies in franchised coffee-themed-grit retailers, that somewhere on the planet a troupe of young men are enjoying the good life, that the spirit of CB Fry lives on, and that at least one collection of humans is not condemned to the hell of commuting, offices, and pretending that they care about this month's sales figures.

But the truth is that cricketers are prisoners. Not only do they have to spend their time being shouted at by fitness instructors, prodded by doctors and having a team of nutritionists standing over them with clipboards while they eat, if they attempt to sneak out for a quick drink, they are likely to be bundled into a van by the fun police and sent for re-education at Alec Stewart's Clean-Living, Responsibility and Well-Being Camp.

And on top of all that, they have to endure exactly the same gibberish as the rest of us. Time was when it would take a lot for an Australian to be dropped from a touring squad. He'd have to drink so much he forgot how to hold a bat, or steal a plane and buzz the Himalayas. But Watson, Johnson, Khawaja and Pattinson have been cast out because they didn't do their homework - specifically, coming up with three reasons each why Australia aren't winning.

Anyone who has served time in an office has seen all this before. When a company is going down the tubes (often because managers have spent millions on changing the corporate colours from aquamarine to turquoise, or have implemented an exciting new peanut-based remuneration package) said managers often approach their staff in such a fashion, to ask if they've got any ideas to turn things around. Employees tend to respond thus:

1. I don't know, I just do the filing and answer the phone.
2. Anyway, isn't that what you're paid to do?

Four Australians declined to take part. I don't blame them, particularly Watson, who is about to become a father, and presumably has more important things to worry about than scribbling catchy slogans on Post-It's. But in the style of insecure office tyrants the world over, Mickey Arthur has cut off his nose to teach his face a lesson. It's a useful reminder that no matter how young, pretty or talented you are, there's always someone with a flip chart who wants to make your life a little more miserable.

Andrew Hughes is a writer currently based in England

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Posted by Srikar on (March 14, 2013, 19:55 GMT)

As much as I smiled while reading this piece, I must disagree with its author. These guys get paid millions in salaries, bonuses & endorsements by virtue of their inclusion in the team - the same team which just got the tenth worst beat-down in its Test History. Therefore, a request by its leaders to take some collective responsibility for said beat-down & demonstrate that it is prepared to do what is necessary to improve performance does not seem unreasonable. 11 others complied with request. Why should these 4 be any different? Mind you, it was not just the 'homework', but also other incidents like backchat, being late etc. I don't think the team-management had a choice. Lack of action would have made them look toothless & worsened the situation with respect to lack of discipline within the team. As a supporter of the Indian team, I only wish our team management had this kind of courage to take the kind of action that is sometimes necessary to ensure consistent on-field performance!

Posted by Rizwan on (March 13, 2013, 21:11 GMT)

"...managers often approach their staff in such a fashion, to ask if they've got any ideas to turn things around."

Funny thing is, something very similar happened where I work. For some obvious reasons the company was taking a serious fall. So what happens next? We were asked to give ideas about how to turn things around & why we are facing huge losses. Unfortunately, most employees(being engineers) obviously felt that this wasn't part of their job descriptions. The whole mess was followed up by some getting fired & some leaving the job.

It is a sport, not some corporate business model. Cricket is recently getting infested with terms like 'accountability ', 'leadership group' ...etc.

Posted by Suman on (March 13, 2013, 15:52 GMT)

Wonderful Andrew. I posted a comment on similar lines that Cricinfo never published. But you, obviously, said it way better :)

Posted by Dummy4 on (March 13, 2013, 11:46 GMT)

and this is why Aussie cricket is where it is - due to so-called leaders like Watto thinking they are above the law. Then he cries like a baby about harsh treatment. and he says he sacrificed by battling to get fit to play international cricket. He is as big a baby as he looks. SOFTIE

Posted by Owen on (March 13, 2013, 9:34 GMT)

The last two paragraphs were magnificent! I wrote a comment along similar lines when the story came out (though cricinfo didn't publish it :P) but this article says it much better than I did!

Posted by Shreyas on (March 13, 2013, 8:59 GMT)

Great article. Not Andrew's usual style but yeah I think he is right in some ways. @ Lawson Dauer ur right mate. Why can't 4 people do a pretty simple job that 13 others did. I think they've got the wrong attitude. But Mickey and co should have given them some kind of warning about what's coming their way. Watson especially being the VC should have shown some responsibility. Guys, be more disciplined.

Posted by Dummy4 on (March 13, 2013, 7:09 GMT)

Loved the humour of the article. However, people are forgetting that 13(?) squad members did as was requested by management (it's not as if this was a revolt by the majority of the squad), so what makes 'the four' think they were above sending in a report?

Posted by Soumen on (March 13, 2013, 5:47 GMT)

Bingo! Nothing captures the essence of what the OZ team management has done than that cliché - cutting off one's nose to spite one's face.

Posted by jijo on (March 13, 2013, 5:03 GMT)

Awesome one.. Less funny but more mind-boggling.. But to be frank, I wouldnt mind doing a few ppts along with standing in the sun, for the millions I'm paid..

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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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Andrew HughesClose
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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