A gentleman’s game goes sour (and becomes rugby)

Wasn’t it nice to be reminded what Shane Warne was truly capable of?

Throughout his career we had booty shaking at Trent Bridge, Mrs. Warne bequeathing diuretics upon her ailing son and a certain lengthy ban for a certain serious infringement.

Yet all of that was lost in a sea of miraculous dismissals and denied hundreds once the great man retired, and instead the eye of common memory settled upon the Gatting delivery, calling Brendon McCullum’s dismissal in the Big Bash League last year and dating Liz Hurley (remember Simone Warne, formerly beloved of the gossip mags?).

There is an old adage about cricket, incidentally involving rugby, that one can catch if one listens closely enough around old blokes drinking Resch’s.

It says something to the effect of cricket being a game played by bogans pretending to be gentlemen, while rugby is a game played by gentlemen pretending to be bogans.

Harsh? Fair? I’m not sold, I reckon both cricket and rugby have their fair share of both pretending to be both, as well as just straight up nice guys and some lousy ones.

But there is an interesting comparison to be made, I think, between Twenty20 cricket and rugby. While cricket at its purest is predominantly about the mind, the more one shortens the format the more reliant on the body it becomes. It becomes less about thinking and planning and more about just executing.

Test matches give the bowler the ability to work a batsman out with a plan, because the batsmen knows that taking a risk in the longer format increases the likelihood of dismissal. Why risk that when you have all day to bat?

If he instead respects good balls, offering a dead bat, and punishes wayward balls that are easier to get away, the more likely the batsman will receive consistent reward. In this way the batsman’s ability to hit boundaries is less important than his ability to concentrate for long periods of time and survive planned assaults from bowlers.

Twenty20 shifts the focus. A bowler has to only plan one ball at a time, because he is the one who must hold firm and ‘survive,’ while the batsmen must use every ounce of his strength and hand-eye to attempt to score as many runs as possible from every delivery, whether through bludgeoning it out of the park or caressing it to parts of the fence a red cricket ball would rarely acquaint itself with.

The physically demanding, fast-paced and tough sport of rugby promotes raised levels of anger in its players due to the collisions and posturing. The lack of time to consider and plot, however, must also have a bearing on this. Does Twenty20 cricket, by decreasing the time spent between deliveries and on the field in total, thereby increasing the urgency of runmaking and wicket taking, also increase the level of machoness and posturing between teams?

There was certainly a lot of that between Marlon Samuels and Shane Warne the other night.

I think this theory could be on the money, but more on this later.

As to the censure around this particular incident, well, I think we might be acting a tad precious.

Samuels_Warne-1200

A clear throw from Samuels is sure to attract the attention of Darrell Hair

For those who missed it, Warnie was captured saying “Fuck you, Marlon,” then throwing the ball at Samuels and Marlon retaliating by throwing his bat in a direction somewhat close to Warnie’s, though not nearly close enough to threaten anyone. To be fair, Warnie should have removed the microphone snugly attached to his waist before hurling expletives at the bat chucker.

It all started earlier in the day when the big fish Samuels (a marlin joke, you see) decided to tug David Hussey’s shirt while he was running between the wickets. If they kept their hands to themselves there would be no story.

Wherefore all this masculine hanky panky? Is Twenty20 breeding a new kind of cricketing boofhead? Is it forcing young cricketers to be brash and cocky, ignorant of the grace, skill and charisma of the cricketers of old.

Or is this merely a blip? After all, how many other instances of throwing the bat have you seen in Twenty20?

Nay, I see this as a one off, and to try to make it something it isn’t is not giving enough credit to the cricketers who have played thousands of Twenty20s before this one.

More importantly, I have been analysing Marlon Samuels’ throw of the bat, and have determined through thoroughly unscientific methods that his elbow bend on his toss was clearly beyond the allowed 15 degrees. The University of Western Australia better get onto that.

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One response to this post.

  1. Posted by Diablo on January 9, 2013 at 9:09 am

    Warnie knew he was live on air, there was nothing in the preceding delivery to prompt his initial tirade at the big fish…. there’s been a lot of suspiciously “staged” confrontations in this year’s BBL that we’ve never really seen before. They’re just trying to spice it up, get it some publicity etc…. it’s just about all you see the day after a match.

    Reply

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