‘World cricket all but paralysed’

You know your sport’s in a real mess when, in the space of 12 months, it can host a disastrous World Cup; investigate a murder; have an umpire take the game’s governing body to court; host a much more successful World Cup six months later but not call it a World Cup. Oh, and racism has popped up its ugly duplicitous head again.

The ICC has lost all credibility. I don’t know of another governing body in any sport which is quite so dysfunctional, and this latest spate of racism will further divide the Members unless the ICC – and India – act now. I refer you to Patrick Smith’s excellent column:

WORLD cricket is all but paralysed. The ruling body cannot make a decision that is not compromised. Bowling has been reduced to throwing, umpiring to the art of convenience, racial abuse to a point of view. Player behaviour teeters on the brink of violence.

Sri Lanka’s Muttiah Muralidaran is outside the law, so change the law and not the action. The ICC considers Darrell Hair umpires by the book and is not a buddy of the players. Sack him.

Pakistan and India refuse to appoint officers to investigate racism in the sport. The ICC has been reduced to writing letters that are ignored and beating the heat in Dubai. Apparently Pakistan and India players and supporters can only be offended and never offensive.

Racial vilification has been redefined. What is said is no longer critical, but who says it to whom is at its heart. So Symonds is vilified by Indian supporters and it goes unheard and ignored. CA whimpers its concern but fails to report the matter officially.

I don’t believe any sport is rife with racism. Not at all. But sportsmen are as much members of society as the rest of us, and we are living in a confused and fragmented world these days. Sport can reflect that with uncomfortable clarity.

Sporting success and failure mirroring society?

I’m about to sit down and watch Nation in Film, that BBC programme of West Indies’ tour in 1976. And the following teaser was uttered by Darcus Howe, one of the contributors.

I don’t think West Indian cricket ever had such an intense reflection of what was taking place in society

Viv Richards is bowled

Is the same true of West Indies now? Does the success of a national sporting team reflect the successes or failures, depressions and moods of society? If it did back then (Howe says that Tony Greig’s “grovelling” comment was, in West Indians’ view, distinctly racist: white versus black), the effect is certainly less so nowadays.

I like stuff like this. Thoughts welcome.

Cricket and the white white van driver

There is a feast of socialogical debate that could spawn from this, but for now I’ll just paste it. Really charming piece from a Sri Lankan bloke who’s just moved house in London. And…

On Saturday the moving van came home and we finally packed away the last bits of our life. The journey was uneventful until we came towards Hyde park where there was a massive traffic block bc of some parade. The driver and I didn’t exchange much conversation all this time, mainly bc I was too tired to say anything. He then received a phone call and said, “434?! Is it a one day game?? Faaarking hell.” Shit shit, I thought, our record. I asked him to clarify and he said that Aussie had scored 434-4 against South Africa, a new world record team score. We spent the next 40 mins or so talking about cricket, it’s very rare to see an Englishman so fascinated by the game. His knowledge was very impressive too, he knew about the Sri Lankan team and even about the not so prominent guys like Malinga Bandara. It was amusing to find that he had the same problem as I when it came to bowling leg breaks, we both end up producing only googlies and toppies. With an average male in India, Sri Lanka or Pakistan such a conversation would be expected, but in England with a young white Englishman, it was truly surprising. He took my phone number and invited me to play for his club up in Mill hill. We ended the day comparing our bowling actions on the main road, run-up and all.

Since working for Cricinfo, everyone talks about cricket. It’s normal. It’s a cricket office. We talk cricket, we laugh at cricketers, we make crude cricketing puns. We abhor the drivel, and dribble, from certain commentators and lavish praise on, well, nobody. It’s all thoroughly normal. But in most other offices, well, you talk about other stuff (other far less interesting stuff). When’s the photocopier being fixed? Can someone help me lift the water bottle thing? I’ll only hurt my back and I can’t be dealing with a sore back in March, the wind cuts right through me (I used to hear that twice a week in my last job. Moaning old bastards). Who’s got my fucking stapler? (as if anyone would want to steal a stapler). Anyway, shan’t depress you any further – I’m sure you’re all well aware of the crap which people talk about in offices. Onto my point, then.

Cricket’s not really on the same “general chit chat” level as, for example, football.

So I think this guy highlights an interesting point in British society which, actually, raises another question: (oh, two actually) on what level is cricket’s popularity in Britain? It’s not on a par with Football, and nor will it ever be. Which is perhaps why it’s so humbling, if that’s the right word, when you bump into someone who at first glance might not appear to know the other definition of a fine leg. Or a short leg, for that matter. Or any bloody leg, frankly.

Sport’s a great leveller and a great connector. And there wasn’t another question to be asked, so I’ll log off now.