English cricket and English life-style

English cricket and English life-style

Post by vigne.. » Fri, 26 Mar 1993 23:02:19

Well, this is not a 100% cricket article.....

England's considerable fall from Grace


     If the phrase ''It's not cricket!'' ever stood as shorthand
for English morality -  except  from English twits  in movie and
stage comedies - then it might  be time to popularise the phrase
''It is cricket!'' as a swift ethical  commentary.  Watching Eng-
land's  cricketers trudge  through the  airport on their  return
from defeat in India and Sri Lanka,  I was struck by the growing
parallels  between  English  cricket  and  English  life.  True,
cricket fanatics, including myself, have

     often been  prone to the  delusion that the  game  provides
some kind of  spiritual rule book for life, with Brearley as the
Bhagwan and Botham as Buddha.  But  the parallels  are many, and

     The  Scapegoat  Game.  England's  defeat  by  Pakistan last
summer was attributed, by  many  of our  players and journalists,
to the visitors' fast bowlers having  interfered with  the  ball.
In India, where we lost  again, the  ball  stayed round  but was
still unusable  by the English because, apparently, of bad shell-
fish, heat and industrial smog.  In  Sri Lanka,  where the third
series defeat  in a row  occurred, the ball  was round, the fish
was clean, the air was clear (though  ''nearly too hot  for Euro-
peans'', said England's manager) but the home bowlers reportedly
''threw'' the ball (bent their arms illegally).

     John Major, the  great cricket  fan, has  learnt from  such
tactics.  The  recession, says the Government, is a global pheno-
menon, locally worsened by  journalists ''talking  down Britain''.
*** and disturbance in society is the fault not of economic
or educational  policy but of  television.  Interest in the  dis-
turbing tax affairs  of the BBC's  Director-General is, we learn,
an ''attempted  coup'' by  disaffected enemies. The line is cons-
tant: there's nothing  wrong with the way we're playing the game,
it's what that lot are doing to the ball.

     Not-Me-Guv Management.  In declining to take responsibility
for the failure  of the team - or to resign over a series of mis-
calculations - Ted Dexter, chairman  of  the  selectors, is  the
very model of a modern English manager.  National parallels  for
his deadbat approach on a m***sticky wicket abound, but at the
top of the  batting  order  would be  Norman  Lamont, John  Birt,
Marmaduke Hussey  and the board of British Airways.  The sign on
the  desk of this country's  top executive  reads not ''The Buck
Stops Here'' but ''Buck Off''.

     The  Fallacy of  Manners.  Astonishingly, Dexter  has found
support for the theory that  England's defeat was  caused by the
prevalence of ''designer  stubble'' and the lack of  jackets and
ties among  the  England squad.  That this  tactic succeeded  is
another terrifying  illustration of the  English tendency to res-
pond to problems with  snobbish social reflex.  There is nothing
wrong with the  inner cities, successive  Conservative education
ministers have suggested, that won't be solved by getting Shakes-
peare and Jane Austen on to the school syllabus.......

[Avoided:  Some life style comparison]

     The Market  Muddle.  Like  most other  aspects  of national
life, cricket has increasingly responded to market forces. There
has  been more  one-day  cricket, with  Liberace-style  flannels
replacing  ***  white, as well  as advertising  logos on  the
pitch. But this was planned as what  you might call a  pragmatic
market.  The theory was  that the one-day games  would subsidise
county and Test games, which attracted fewer spectators but were
regarded by the  purists as the  game at its best.  In  practice,
the requirements of the short form for  spendthrift  batting and
parsimonious  bowling have  gutted the  English game of spinners,
long-haul batsmen and adventurous bowlers. So the Indian and Sri
Lankan spinners were a mystery to England's batsmen.

     Exactly this  kind of  half-market - reform without the des-
truction of  traditions, the  new elements  guaranteeing the old -
is being attempted at the  BBC and  British Rail. Equivalents of
the anguished cry ''We never meant to  destroy spinners/the long
innings'' can easily be imagined for both those industries.

     Shabby M*** Pragmatism.  The  Chancellor could not resign
after Black Wednesday because all the Cabinet agreed on the same
policy.  Though distressed  by events, the  BBC  governors  must
support the status quo because to force resignations would cause
instability to the corporation. This kind of sophistry  has been
seen in the  cricket  selectors'  cynical  manipulation  of  the
periods in  which  foreign-born  players were  required to await
qualification for England and  for which  English  players  were
banned after touring South Africa. Decisions were made not on an
ethical basis but from a  desire to  see certain  players in the

     But there is evidence that the god of cricket is not mocked.
Graeme  Hick's  qualification  period for  England  having  been
shortened by three years, he remained almost runless during this
bonus time, eerily achieving success at about the time he should
properly have  been  admitted to the team.  Similarly, the  Rand-
paid Englishmen whose ban was  shortened to free them for  India -
Gatting, Emburey and Jarvis - put in performances that suggested
they  were  involved  in a  subliminal, contritional game of for-
feits with the African National Congress. Perhaps pragmatic mora-
lity will prove equally unacceptable to  the gods of  television
and politics.

     Declining National Significance.  Because the international
Test calendar in  essence matches England against members of its
former Empire  and  present Commonwealth, cricket has been a use-
ful metaphor  for  global realignments.  There is something auto-
matically  poignant therefore  about the  fact that  England now
seems  to be a  match only  for Zimbabwe.  But the trend towards
relative English insignificance is seen in other fields: Britain's
role in  the  Special  Relationship  with the United States, for

     In literature - where  England has suffered a cricket-style
series of  defeats, with the Booker  test series now  won by New
Zealand, Australia, India, South Africa, Sri Lanka  - the mother
country cunningly pretends that all of these writers are English,
through declaring the Booker Prize to be  for British and Common-
wealth fiction. On the cricket field, none of these delusions is
possible. The truth is seen: a teacher thrashed by her students.

     These six hits tell us something.  The England cricket team -
failing,  morally shifty, globally  insignificant, distracted by
irrelevant attention to  demeanour, run by  discredited  leaders
insolently  continuing in  office - may  not be a  credit to the
nation, but is a perfect reflection of it.

Thanks     ::      The Independent


UMass, Mar 25, 1993


English cricket and English life-style

Post by Nai Ying Kw » Mon, 29 Mar 1993 22:01:54


>Well, this is not a 100% cricket article.....

Good enough!

>     These six hits tell us something.  The England cricket team -
>failing,  morally shifty, globally  insignificant, distracted by
>irrelevant attention to  demeanour, run by  discredited  leaders
>insolently  continuing in  office - may  not be a  credit to the
>nation, but is a perfect reflection of it.

<sigh>  This is so painfully true (for me being an Anglophile and all...
but only for what *was* rather than what *is*) that it is almost fitting
that Gower is not playing for England.

Perhaps with his inclusion, everything will miraculously be better?  Well,
one can hope, can't we? :-)  (Oh, and pigs might fly too).