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A New Spelling for Hubris: E.N.G.L.A.N.D

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Now the English (of which I am one) have a proud tradition of counting their chickens before they hatch. Witness the national team’s disastrous outing at the 2006 FIFA World Cup, the boyish confidence that preceded the last Ashes series in Australia and the whispers that are even now are doing the rounds, the ones that intimate (say it quietly) that this current Australia outfit might just be there for the taking. 

Surely though the way the press, players and administration have handled this current Stanford debacle takes not just the biscuit, but also the plate, the spoons and the entire bleedin’ tea set!

Think back: Graeme Swann was going to buy pink Ferrari, Kevin Pietersen warned his side not to crow about all the lovely lolly that was inevitably coming their way and then the UK media chipped in with a few sly asides about the quality of Stanford’s so-called ‘Superstars’.

The upshot of all this woefully overambitious thinking: bundled out for ninety nine, then smashed around the park by Chris Gayle, the only man in the world ever to have made an international T20 hundred and a true ‘Superstar’ if ever there was one.

Kevin Pietersen’s post match commentary eluded to an England side having their preparations for the game clouded by the ‘nonsense’ that’s surrounded Alan Stanford’s week long Caribbean carnival, but to that I say ‘phooey’!

Sure Alan Stanford, newly crowned winner of the ‘shiniest man in cricket’ award (does the man apply goose fat before leaving the house?), is brash and of course he’s loud and obnoxious – but he’s a Texan billionaire for god’s sake!

Frankly I’d be a little disappointed if he weren’t a cross between JR Ewing and Donald Trump.

Now England and the English press are up in arms because the ‘SMIC’ has been, exercising his droit de seigneur in a myriad of (in my humble opinion) perfectly acceptable ways.

You don’t build a stadium, inject millions of dollars into the game and then offer a bunch of prissy cricketers a fortune for three hours work and not automatically gain the right to stroll into any dressing room you damn well please at any time you goddamn like!

As for the dandling of England’s sprightly young partner’s on his well padded knee? Well, attractive young women have been drawn to wealth and power since time immemorial and, while I’m not suggesting for a moment that there was anything untoward going on, the ladies in question didn’t seem to be quite as embarrassed as the UK press seems to have made out.

Anyway it’s his party for crying out loud, he can do what he likes.

To his credit Mr. Stanford did apologize for both incursions into England’s territory (both physical and meta-physical) but really, come on!

If England’s players expected the Stanford Super Series to be anything other than a self-aggrandizing beach party for the ‘savior’ of West Indies cricket then they were naïve at worst and misguided at best.

There is a sense here of wanting to ‘have your cake and eat it’. The recent injection of money into the game, whether in a single, spectacular dose such as the Stanford experiment or in the vast sums now being pumped into the I.P.L. comes (and forgive the pun here) at a price.

It comes at a price for traditionalists who see the incursion of T20 and the game’s new riches as a galling smear on the face of the cricket itself, but it also comes at a price for the players, the ones being paid these extraordinary sums of money.

For the players the equation is (or should be) simple: all bets are off.

Forget being cosseted behind the closed doors of the dressing room, forget not wanting to talk to the TV cameras because it upsets your fragile equilibrium, forget complaining about fatigue and ‘burn-out’. In short, forget about every facet of your playing life as an international cricketer.

The sums of money now being offered are completely removed from anything cricket has ever seen and therefore we should expect the players to act and react accordingly.

Now I’m not suggesting that cricket and cricketers descend into wholesale anarchy, but wouldn’t it be nice (as a viewer who, let’s face it, ultimately pays for these vastly inflated salaries) to be able to hear what the umpires are saying to the players (a la rugby union), to hear what the stump mics pick up between deliveries, to get more than the usual litany of bland sound bites at the end of a game?

If it’s a ‘hit and a giggle’ let’s have a ‘hit and a giggle’, take the money and take your choice.

Sadly for Kevin Pietersen’s England they did neither this week.
 
(Click here to know more about Jim) 
 


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