Bullying for dummies

It's particularly hard to stand up against bullies when all your friends desert you. But that doesn't mean you should stop trying

Andrew Hughes

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It isn't easy being a bully. People think it's just a matter of looking tough or finding imaginative ways to hurt people before stealing their lollipop, but there's a lot more to it. For a start, a lot of a bully's time is taken up with PR. A bully's reputation should precede him; otherwise he has to establish his credentials every time he meets a new kid, which can be very time-consuming, not to say wearing on the knuckles.

In fact, the very best bullies are so skilled at the PR side of things, they can convince you that not only is it inevitable that you will be bullied by them, but that being bullied by them is perfectly fair and reasonable, if only you'd stop to think about it.

I can still remember our old school bully Barry's reasoning on the matter. His argument was that since his father was an investment banker, our lunch money was the product of a vibrant economy that Barry's father had helped to create, so for Barry to confiscate our lunch money was just a more equitable way of distributing the nation's wealth, and if we had a problem with that, we could take it up with his big fat fist.

As well as PR, bullying is also about power. The work can be varied. A bully might be engaged in stealing sweets from first-graders, snatching handbags from little old ladies, or even demolishing the entire organisational and financial framework of a global sport. Some of these things are legal, some of them aren't, but they all have one thing in common: the short-term application of overwhelming power to obtain an advantage.

But while an understanding of the bullying arts can help you acquire a greater appreciation of the skills involved, on the whole, most of us would prefer not to be bullied. So how do we deal with it when it happens?

Well, you can denounce the bullies to the authorities. Of course, if they are the authorities, this approach is unlikely to succeed. You can try to ignore them, although that is hard to pull off when they are punching you in the kidneys and extracting your income.

In the end, most people - and most cricket boards - fall back on the less than satisfactory approach of putting a brave face on it. You manage a weak smile, say thank you to the bully for not bruising your other eye and trot off back to class.

It's particularly hard to stand up against bullying when all your friends desert you. Before lunch at the latest ICC meeting, there was a magnificent group of seven determined to resist. During the break they were cornered and picked off one by one until by the time they trooped in from the playground, there was just Zaka Brynner, Haroon McQueen and the other one whose name escapes me.

Still, just because it's hard, that doesn't mean you shouldn't try. One or two influential cricket folk who should know better have responded to this shamefully blatant cricket putsch by offering a weary shrug and declaring that this is just the way of the world: the rich get richer, the powerful use their power to become more powerful, little old ladies get bashed on the head on their way home from the post office. What can you do?

Well you can start by saying that it is wrong. Loudly, repeatedly, and to the point of becoming boring. In fact, anyone who cares about cricket should contact their board right now, by email, carrier pigeon, letter, ouija board, brown envelope, or whatever it takes to get through to them. You should point out that bullies never prosper, and that even if they do prosper, they won't be allowed to enjoy their prosperity in peace.

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

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Posted by Jawwad on (February 5, 2014, 21:38 GMT)

Where are the so called Indian Greats? I'd like to know their opinions or they are equally involved in proposing these bullying tactics? And here in West there are strong sentiments against bullying and India wants to take her journey to become a Western type country by bullying?

Posted by Dummy4 on (February 2, 2014, 18:15 GMT)

As an Indian cricket fan , let me tell u something ... this is not going to work out for long , eventually nature will neutralize bullies.. First thing first , cricket is slowly losing its craze in India, owing to India's dismal overseas performances and the overkill of cricket. U can very well see how many people must have followed the last odi series vs NZ and SA. In india the test matches run on empty grounds. Only the odis draw some crowds but not as much as they used to some 6 years ago. The reduced sponsorship rights rates are an Indication, gone are the days when people bunked colleges and offices to watch cricket. This too much and quality less cricket is going to cost the BCCI very soon. Show me one ckt fan who really enjoyed the last West Indies tour to India.The interest for cricket is slowly fizzling out and soon the BCCI will repent for its greed that has spoiled India and world cricket.

Posted by Rizwan on (February 2, 2014, 9:24 GMT)

You've written only the truth here, Mr. Hughes & I just feel further frustration. I just hope these changes become seriously detrimental in the long run, so that eventually the next generations will look back & blame the boards who bullied others into submission or the ones who meekly surrendered.

Posted by Salman on (February 2, 2014, 7:09 GMT)

The forceful grabbing of an International Sport is expertly explained in this article.

BCCI who just recently came under IPL Scandal will now rule over ICC , meaning we should expect a lot of corruption in cricket from now onwards.

Since focus is MONEY . So , money will win but definitely cricket will die.

India being thrashed and England being thrashed, 2 teams are already looking like minnows in big 3.... Shame on BCCI, Australia and England for supporting this idea.

Posted by Kathy on (February 2, 2014, 6:34 GMT)

How will this affect the ICC rankings?

Posted by jayasekera on (February 2, 2014, 4:28 GMT)

The sad thing is that the West Indies and Bangladesh cricket boards have fallen for renewed offers thereby forgetting their principles for the sake of extra cash and continued test cricket, respectively. Unless you stand up to bullies, they will batter you in the end. Sometimes it's better to get a battering and stand by your principles so that the bullies know you can't be battered or even buttered into submission. More often than not, bullies are afraid of getting a battering themselves.

Posted by Simon on (February 2, 2014, 3:49 GMT)

Very poor development for the game. What do you think is going on here? Have the ECB & CA decided to include the BCCI in a convoluted coup? Do you think CA & ECB realise that BCCI is running rough shod over the cricket world with their dominance of the ICC, so have put forward this plan, to ultimately 'outvote' the BCCI and get control of the game back for all the members?

Yeah, completely crazy! Can not understand there is any logic in sporting bodies saying we'll make more money playing the same team every other year. Of course logic doesn't always have any place in the pursuit of power and money. Wont be long and ICC will stand for Indian Cricket Council and the whole game will be played within India's borders.

Posted by Ash on (February 2, 2014, 0:58 GMT)

This is the best piece you've written. Just not nasty enough! The most disappointing thing about reaction to this unethical and immoral plot has been the conspicuous silence from some quarters. As for Bangladesh's pitiful capitulation, how ironic that a country whose team is an embarrassment to test cricket could have saved the sport from destruction, but chose not to. An unique opportunity wasted!

Posted by Dummy4 on (February 1, 2014, 21:03 GMT)

India, England, and Australia already play more test cricket than the other teams. This has resulted in mediocre and boring players like Alastair Cook breaking all kinds of batting records, a situation which will only get worse in future now that the FTP has been ditched. The proposed triopoly will mean that all future records will be meaningless, and it will serve these bullies right if the fans desert cricket on droves.

Posted by Mohammad on (February 1, 2014, 17:28 GMT)

Well said sir. I am still hopeful that Pakistan, Sri Lanka and South Africa can save us from going back to colonial era. The big three are totally shameless, gutless and greedy. They are arrogant and bent on destroying a Gentleman's game as we know it. To them it is cash cow that they can milk to death. They think they are above the game but what all three of these greedy monkeys are forgetting is that a match involving Pakistan vs. India is much bigger than any combination between the three bullies. I hope Pakistan, Sri Lanka and South Africa will not give in to this black mail and save the game. All the best.

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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 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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