Cricket needs to wake up

2011-09-17 00:00

CRICKET can learn a lot from rugby. The current RWC has been compelling viewing. Experts will talk about rucks and rolling mauls and analyse the strengths and weaknesses of the teams. From the viewer’s perspective — and every match has been shown on satellite TV in Sri Lanka — the tournament has been a runaway success.

Of course rugby is easier to spread than cricket. It appeals to tough minded nations like Argentina, Romania and Georgia. It is not wise to offend citizens of these countries.

To them a scrum is merely a pleasant interlude spent amongst like minded comrades. As far as they are concerned, cauliflower ears and broken teeth indicate a life well led. Other teams might beat them, but not even the All Blacks can scare them.

Rugby likewise appeals to inhabitants of countries that grow root vegetables and accordingly produced men of immense power. Ever been to Fiji or Samoa or Tonga?

Here’s a tip: Never get into a drinking contest with a local (this also applies in Ireland and Poland). And always eat their veggies.

After one mountainous breakfast that consisted mostly of tasty vegetables I was ready to take on Mike Tyson. People raised on a feast of them emerge over the centuries as massive figures.

If rugby has been lucky, though, it has also been wise. Years ago officials decided to expand the RWC and to that end invited all sorts of aspiring nations to try their luck.

Everyone knew they’d get walloped the first few times but hopes were high that they’d improve and eventually challenge. Doubtless the miseries moaned about one-sided matches — and indeed many teams did lose by 80 points even last time around — but visionaries are not so easily discouraged

Now the Canadians and Americans are playing good rugby and pushing the senior sides hard.

Tonga and Samoa are thundering around the field and the latter beat the Wallabies not long ago.

Admittedly these rising sides tend to run out of steam in the last 20 minutes, but ’til then they play some impressive rugby. The Canadian forwards were formidable. Some of these roosters have beards and others have played Gridiron. Both are calculated to terrify all save those with VC’s on their chests

Cricket has been much more short sighted and snooty. Far from investing in new nations, it has whined about part timers and costs and tried to reduce the numbers taking part in the CWC. Fortunately these other nations rebelled so strongly that the decision was overturned ●— quite a regular event in cricket these days.

To be fair, the ICC does send coaches to places like Papua New Guinea, where cricket is growing apace.

At the same time though, it makes no effort to get cricket into the Olympics or even the Commonwealth games. The reason is simple. Its run by duds. Cricket ought to grab every opportunity to attract new nations.

Meanwhile the failure of the Indians even to turn up at the recent ICC awards ceremony was another example of selfishness. Apparently they were staging a protest against the demands on them.

Well its a bit late for that. Long ago the senior players should have formed a group to state their case. Instead they were too busy copying up the IPL bosses and their riches.

Now they are reduced to abject gestures. Indian cricketers are well placed to put their points across in a constructive way. These digressions pinpoint the problem with cricket. It lacks leadership and direction. By no means could the current bosses help Romania or Georgia put out a presentable rugby side.

They are far too busy fighting the wrong battles, squabbling when they ought to be inspiring. Games run by small minds never grow.

Cricket needs to wake up. If the flannelled fools cannot learn from the muddied oafs then maybe they can glean something from the cat-gutters.

Men’s tennis is going through a wonderful period. At no time in the game’s history have their been three such brilliant players as currently grace the scene. To watch the contests in America between Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal and Nicky Djocovic was to be elevated to the highest places sport can reach.. All were brilliant and periodically sublime.

Djocovic hits the ball harder than it has even been struck yet the Swiss almost beat him. Nadal just refuses to give up. Some of the rallies — let alone the matches — were of epic proportion And do you know where Federer is right now? Licking his wounds? Sulking in his tent? He is in Sydney playing for his country in the Davis Cup. Rugby has the vision and tennis the champions. Cricket has neither. Hard times lie ahead.

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