This is probably G-Dawg and I’s best podcast.
It’s certainly our most polished and assured podcast.
We talk about ex players talking.
Ntini’s race claims.
Nathan Lyon’s bunny.
What kind of psycho Dale Steyn looks like.
And polished 9s.
It’s not the podcast you want, it’s the podcast you deserve.
And now our Canuck has transcribed again, he’s a mother fucken marvel.
JK: Welcome to the Cricket Sadist Hour. With me I have everyone’s favorite Gideon Haigh. It’s Gideon Haigh. How are you?
GH: I am very well. Happy to be Gideon Haigh for you, Jarrod?
JK: You’ve still in Melbourne?
GH: I’m still in Melbourne, off to Adelaide tomorrow.
JK: Luckily you are still on Melbourne because there is a terrible case of food poisoning going around with Dale Steyn. He’s ill. He’s eaten something and he’s not feeling well.
GH: Don’t tell me he’s made of flesh and blood. This is news to me. And he eats as well? I thought he lived on pure blood.
JK: You wouldn’t think he could get sick because the way the talk about him at times seems like he eats raw food.
GH: He’ s remarkable physical specimen. In the flesh, there doesn’t seem to be terribly much of him. It’s all in the rhythm, it’s all in the technique where he’s concerned.
JK: It’s all in the pseudo moustache he always has. There’s some sort of menace behind it.
GH: There’s some feeling about him. He’s got that look of one of those American back woodsmen who has quested himself in a shack full of () and semi-automatic weapons.
JK: Most of the people I talk to, see him as a prison guard, slightly sadistic. He’s the guy who watches the Green Mile and actually cheers for the creepy one. There hasn’t been a lot going on between the two Tests if Dale Steyn’s food poisoning is making articles.
GH: That’s true. Frankly, this is a period you’ve got mandatory amount of space to fill and anything that is out of the ordinary – Shane Watson eating toast instead of muesli at the buffet – that qualifies as news. Actually anything that Shane Watson does qualifies as news these days. If he opens his mouth we take dictation.
JK: We will get on to Shane Watson news but you were out with Eddie’s father and he became news, didn’t it?
GH: Yes, this was quite funny. The night that Eddie made his century, the tabloids ran a story where Ed Cowan’s father was taken to hospital yesterday and it got the Exclusive tag in the news from the tabloids. In fact, he’s had an ear infection and he went to the hospital to get his ears syringed out. Now that his son had made a 100, he was feeling pretty good about things and he wanted to be fit for dinner that night. I did get a call later that night from one of my Australian colleagues saying “Do you know anything about this Rich Cowan story? What are we gonna do? Have we missed a big yarn?” I said, he’s actually sitting right across the table from me and looking pretty well.
JK: It is highly possible that the Australian syringed Rich Cowan’s ear and then fed it to Dale Steyn.
GH: It’s all a conspiracy.
JK: Let’s get on to Watson. I have all these RSS feeds that I follow. And a lot of them are Australian. And it seems like I had an RSS feed this week it was ex-player says something about Watson. He shouldn’t bowl, he should bat, he should bat down the order, he should go up the order, he should never play again, he should quit ODIs. It seems like all these years of Shane Watson giving his own press conferences, every other player has now decide to do it for him.
GH: Well he’s a sitting target, isn’t he? He’s a perpetual enigma. Everyone’s trying to unravel or decode it. Everyone’s got their pet theory about the role that he can perform for Australia. These days this is the way a lot of the cricket media runs. You have a roll-a-decks of ex-players who you contact to provide you with ready-made content and sound bytes.
JK: The Neil Harvey quote on my website was a parody of that way back in the day.
GH: We’ve left Neil Harvey way behind. Cricket is full of bloviating former players who can be relied upon to fill a tabloid column. I guess, in a way, in the days gone by, they would have been writing columns themselves. But these days the environment within newspapers is so austere that we supplicate ourselves before them and take what they say as considered wisdom. It’s interesting that Jeff Thomson seems to have changed his view about Shane Watson. He was one of Watson’s main detractors some years ago. There’s a passage in Watson’s autobiography that is very puffy about Thomson. Well, Thomson’s changed his mind now and thinks that whatever Watson wants to do, he should be allowed to do. It is interesting, this argument about whether he is in the top six Australian batsmen. You don’t pick the best six batsmen, do you? You pick your best two openers, you pick your best No.3 and your best 4, 5 and 6. There’s no point picking six openers or six No. 6s. It is confusing to see where Watson fits in the pantheon of the best No. 3 in Australia. There’s arguments that his value is as an opener and frankly, at the moment, there are no opening vacancies.
JK: The biggest problem with Watson is, if he was making a lot of runs coming into this, he wouldn’t have a problem coming back into the side. He really hasn’t made runs for a long time now, so it’s easy for everyone to sit on the side and say he should do this, he shouldn’t do that, if he doesn’t bowl or whatever. He he’d been making the runs that he was supposed to make in the first place, he would be picked as a batsmen.
GH: He made a lot of runs in the World T20 and he was making runs in the Champions League. Unfortunately, it was in the wrong kind of cricket. That’s not necessarily his fault. He was going out and he was performing in the genres of cricket that we was selected for. But the ability to withstand a three- hour game of cricket doesn’t tell you much about a player’s ability to get through five days.
JK: I’m not sure if this is exactly right but I think it is roughly right. He’s opened in 30 Tests and made 2 Test hundreds. If he’d made 7 or 8, we probably would be saying he deserves to come back but he’s in a position where he doesn’t make hundreds, he goes out at important times a lot and if he is not bowling he does actually lose something. Even though all these players are lining up to give him a kick, or tell him what to do, realistically, he’s left his future open for everyone to have any opinion they want.
GH: Psychologically, he does seem to be attached to opening and he’s expressed strong preference for that, both in media conferences and in his book. In his book, he says that he likes to go in No. 1 because that enables him to create match situations rather than respond to them. A slightly strange remark and suggestive of someone who doesn’t really trust themselves in responding to match situations. He also says in his book that he likes bowling. He feels that it takes pressure off his batting. Now, someone who goes around saying that they need to feel as though they are taking pressure off their batting is not a person who is particularly confident about their ability to contribute consistently. He’s an interesting psychological case study. Perhaps, that’s why we go around soliciting opinions of him. He’s a very rich subject.
JK: Yeah. You talk about how he likes opening. The madness about someone like Watson is that five minutes before he started opening, he said he was training himself to be a killer middle order player because that’s where he could make his biggest impact. He literally changes his mind more than Thommo does.
GH: And then he found that the opening quite suited him because the attacking fields in use when the new ball is in operation suited his ability to clump early boundaries. But we all know that the trajectory of the average Shane Watson innings, which is four 4s in his first 20 runs and a steadily declining scoring rate after that as fielders fall into run saving positions and a seeming inability to convert 40s into starts. The fact is that Watson looks a million dollars when he bats. He sticks that front foot down the wicket and loads up and punches the ball magisterially through the covers. But that’s a bit deceptive because that’s not what batting is all about. His ability to turn the strike over, his ability to play spin bowling, his ability to form partnerships down the order. I think all these things are in doubt. You can’t look at Watson’s statistics alone and form an evaluation of him. They are a pretty static measure. The other thing that the selectors find slightly confounding about him is that he doesn’t really seem to take a hint. He said in the press conference yesterday that he hadn’t been told whether his ability to bowl was integral to his selection. He hasn’t been told directly but frankly the remarks that Pat Howard made last week were very explicit, very explicit.
JK: Didn’t Clarke and Mickey Arthur also say it?
GH: There just seems to be something deliberately obtuse about this. No one said it to my face directly, therefore, I do not know. I think the selectors are getting into a position where they want players who don’t need to be told, who are quick on the uptake, who are in touch with the game and can make their own judgments about it and evaluate themselves in relation to the general philosophy surrounding the team. Watson at the moment doesn’t seem to fulfill those criteria.
JK: I sometimes see him as sitting on some throne of bean bags with women around him fanning him as his manager, his agent and his PR person come up and they try and tell him what the news is and they edit it a little and he doesn’t really listen, he just asks for more chicken or something.
GH: Peel me a lotus.
JK: Exactly. One of the reasons I was so interested about the Watson thing was Stuart Broad came out on Twitter today and basically attacked a lot the ex-players for having a go at him. Because they wanted him here and whatever and it was at the same time that Ian Botham came out. I wonder that the players who don’t like being abused in the media are most likely to end up in the media.
GH: I do remember reading in Mark Taylor’s book, A Captain’s Year, describing his 1997 tour of England, where he was under immense media pressure leading up to the century that he made in the first Test. I remember him saying that if I was ever to be a commentator in the future, I would never be critical of players. I thought at the time thinking Oh My Goodness Me, Mark, I hope you don’t stick with that. And perhaps he has as a commentator. I don’t know if that is because of his own experiences of being on the receiving end. Players respond differently to criticism. When they leave their eventual media careers. Some of them become desperately equivocal and say nothing; some of them become tremendous blowhards and dish it out left, right and center. I think in the main, someone like Mike Atherton is extremely even-handed where it comes to criticism. I think he understands how difficult it is to play the game well and understands that the psychological exigencies involved international cricket. I think the media makes a convenient whipping boy for players who are under pressure about their own performances. The pressure really comes from the procrustean bit of statistics, not from ex-players and the media.
JK: I think Nasser Hussain and Mike Atherton are almost two perfect cases of what to do if you are a player who goes into the media. Having chatted to them and watching what they do, you can love them or hate them as actual commentators or writers but what they are trying to do is continue to learn about the game. I hate it when someone we wouldn’t have done that in my day. Well, in your day, you didn’t have iPhones. I don’t care about the world before iPhones, is what I’m saying. And we’ve got the opposite of it in England. Nick Knight is the person who doesn’t want to offend anyone. He can’t answer a question on air. It is so frustrating to listen to him. Then you’ve got the Australian commentators who’ve turned completely into cheerleaders. They’ve always been quite pro but … Slater, Healy and Taylor are now cheerleaders rather than even give you any insight into the game. I feel like a casual cricket fan knows more about Cricket than these three do.
GH: That’s interesting; I suspect that one of the reasons for that is perhaps it sounds more like cheerleading because of the absence of a visiting commentator. There are now so many commentators in the Channel 9 box, there almost seems to be a competition as to who can be the most ingratiating and the most adulatory. Even Ian Chappell was reduced to saying nice things about Ed Cowan during the first Test. What’s the world coming to!
JK: He almost exploded on that. I had this really good chat with Iain O’Brien once about this sort of stuff and as a player he was so angry at commentators who would point out the negatives but as a spectator, I was so angry about commentators who wouldn’t. We definitely want two different things out of our commentators between the players and the fans.
GH: Is there an assumption somehow that an ex-player who is critical of a current player is breaching some free masonry or some poly test about the ways in which players should relate to one another? They should be able to understand what it’s like.
JK: I think players definitely think that. From the few players that I’ve chatted to, they almost feel let down when a former player comes out and says you should try harder or you should think more. They feel like they are trying as hard and are thinking as much as they can. They feel like Wait a minute, you must have had bad days in the field as well. But that’s not really commentary, is it? You look at a performance in front of you and if it’s not good enough you say it’s not good enough. But they feel like if it’s an ex-player doing it then they don’t get it but they almost don’t mind if the fans do it as much because the fans don’t understand any way.
GH: There was a slight variation on this, years ago. Shane Warne was intensely critical of John Buchanan and Adam Gilchrist came out and defended Buchanan and implied that Warne had breached the code of the baggy green. There was this exclusive club and one of the rules of the club was that you were not critical of another member of that club. John Buchanan did not have a baggy green but somehow got the baggy green by extension. That was at the high point of the creepy baggy green cult. It was interesting that in a country that prides itself on an egalitarian myth, that there should have been this extreme elitism surrounding the players in the Australian team that had to behave towards one another in a certain way.
JK: I am not overly surprised at all. What I am surprised about is that anyone came out on John Buchanan’s side. That always surprises me. This is a completely different thing but I heard this week that Glenn Turner and Martin Crowe were hired by NZ Cricket to be talent scouts to have a look at players in domestic cricket who may be able to go to international cricket. I think we used to call them selectors. They’ve got a bowls guys and they’ve got John Buchanan. They’ve got all these people working there but then actually have to hire old school selectors and call them talent scouts. What NZ Cricket are doing is going to change Cricket forever in some sort of Moneyball situation or they’re going to continue to lose by 10 wickets to teams like Sri Lanka.
GH: A lot of the time, in Cricket, you see a tendency to want to reinvent the wheel in complete ignorance of the fact that the wheel already exists.
JK: And it’s run over John Buchanan before.
GH: Another one I wanted to talk about is Nathan Lyon. Ashley Mallet, another ex-player, who writes columns for Cricinfo and I think might write for a couple other places as well. He’s come out and said that Nathan Lyon has a bunny in Jacques Rudolph. That just seems like an amazingly unnecessary thing to say to a guy who’s just found some sort of form again.
GH: And an amazingly unnecessary thing to say about Jacques Rudolph too. It’s not as if this series will hinge on Australia’s dominance over Jacques Rudolph. Can’t we sway Nathan Lyon to do something slightly more useful?
JK: I like that. It’s like Lyon’s taking a look at the opposition and he’s like this is the weak link and I’m gonna take him down. But this Amla guy, someone else’s job.
GH: I do think that Rudolph in the South African team is a player who’s under considerable pressure. It’s not exactly clear what his role is. He’s not a counter-punching No. 6. He’s there because as we said last week, apparently, he’s good for morale and who knows what form that contribution might take. These are not characteristics of the No. 1 team in the world that they people around good for morale.
JK: It’s an interesting one. Makhaya Ntini has come out and said that Tsolekile, I think I pronounced his name right, I had a whole summer over here and I still forget how to do it. He said Tsolekile, if he was white, would have been picked in the side to keep ahead of AB deVilliers. That seems the opposite of their policy over the last couple years. It seems Tsolekile would have been picked if he averaged more. I think he averages in the 20s in first class cricket. He’s not an obvious selection. Having said that, I still think he should come in ahead of AB deVilliers before they actually kill him.
GH: Indeed, so do I. I think they are really cheapening and underselling AB deVilliers by forcing him to take the wicket-keeper’s gloves. I think his vitality and his electricity in the field. Because they look a terribly inanimate unit in the field, they certainly did at Brisbane. I suspect that some of this might have to do with the power vacuum that’s opened up at Cricket South Africa since the defenestration of Gerald Majola. There are a lot of people around at the moment trying to endear themselves to the authorities, trying to carve out niches from themselves and perhaps Ntini is one of them. He seemed to become very disaffected with the setup towards the end of his career and perhaps he’s living out some of this grievances by vicarious means.
JK: It’s interesting because during the last summer when Boucher was first injured, Tsolekile was obviously picked and if you went on any South African website you could find people saying that he wasn’t in the best two or three keepers and being called a quota selection even to get into the squad. It’s almost like you’ve got white racists who are angry because he’s been picked at all and you’ve got Ntini who’s angry because he’s hasn’t made the squad ahead of AB deVilliers. It’s quite an interesting situation where Tsolekile without having played a Test seems to have annoyed so many people.
GH: And, of course, in South Africa, they can’t go to all that many ex-players to get quotes from because, according to Cricket South Africa, most of them don’t exist.
JK: To be fair, Tsolekile said he grew up with Ntini as a mentor but let’s be honest it’s not like there’ve been that many mentors from those townships. If you’re gonna go for a quote about a black South African cricketer, you pretty much, nine times out of ten, going to Ntini, aren’t you? Hershcelle Gibbs is probably not the same sort of guy. And Hershcelle Gibbs probably doesn’t even know who’s in the team.
GH: Not exactly a role model.
JK: I want to talk about Fawad Ahmed, who is the Pakistan-born, Taliban-victimized leg spinner, who was told that he was couldn’t practice Cricket because it was a Western game and he’s now got, not citizenship, but what has he been granted by the Australian government? Residency. I should know all this since I’ve had to go through it with another country but I don’t remember.
GH: He was not approved the first time and he appealed with the help of Cricket Australia and he was approved.
JK: I’ve got two questions about this and I love Fawad Ahmed. I hope very soon he has bunnies in Test Cricket.
GH: Hope not Jacques Rudolph.
JK: I hoping his bunny could be Daniel Flynn or some of the big names in World Cricket or Johnson Charles perhaps. I know a little bit about Pakistan but I don’t know that much. I believe they played Cricket under the Taliban in Afghanistan, they liked Cricket a little bit at that stage. But in Pakistan they’d be so anti-Cricket and think of it as a Western game. That seems to be opposite of the World-wide feel of Cricket at the moment.
GH: Well I think there is different stand of extremism so perhaps by generically referring to the Taliban we’re distorting things. There would be people in Pakistan who would regard Cricket as a seduction of the West. For the very same reason that they attacked the Sri Lankan team bus in 2009. Anything that allows Pakistan to maintain links with the outside world and potentially be poisoned by external influence is to be resisted.
JK: Good point, that’s my first part which you just basically took a dump on. My second one is the more interesting question. Do we think he would have been accepted with residency in Australia had it not been for Cricket? You said he’d been knocked back once. He would have appealed anyway, I assume. Do we think he would have got through without Cricket Australia.
GH: It’s a very good question. I don’t know have the answer to it. Definitely sport has been an avenue to accelerate acceptance. I’m not sure that we should necessarily be surprised about that. I think there were other things that stood in his favor. He is a well-educated young man. He’s got some sort of international relations degree. He’s very well-spoken. He’s got a continuous employment record since he arrived in Australia. He has an existing network of friends here. I am not sure about family. So there are probably other reasons why he recommended himself eventually to the immigration authorities.
JK: It just seems like it’s not the first time. I know Tennis players and athletes, there’s been quite a few that seem to jump the queue in Australia. I’ve got no problem with him getting it. If he was really victimized over there then he should definitely get residency. I just wonder if sometimes we’re just like well we could do with a leg spinner.
GH: If you’re on the way to Australia, if you are planning to enter Australia legally, practice your wrong ‘un. It’s obviously a sound recommendation. I enjoyed watching him bowl in the nets in Brisbane. He’s good to watch and he does have a wonderful range of variations. It’s interesting that Ed Cowan apparently batted a lot against in order to prepare for playing against Imran Tahir because he saw the two bowlers as having a lot in common. I think he’s fitted in really well around that particular unit. And he’s been well accepted. What an amazing experience for him. It is a feel good story and there’s a general absence of them.
JK: For sure. It does seem at the moment that I am in charge of who gets into Australia and who doesn’t although let’s be honest I wouldn’t have knocked hi back the first time. We’ll finish off with one final thing. I want to get your thoughts on this. It’s one particular quote in one particular piece but it might sum up where Australian Cricket is and may be even World Cricket is at the moment. Malcolm Conn when talking about Rob Quiney went he made the most polished nine possible on debut.
GH: Well, it was certainly the most discussed nine in the history of Australian Cricket. I thought we were aiming pretty low when we devoted acres of space to Usman Khawaja’s 37 two years ago but certainly Rob Quiney has recalibrate the equation for Australian achievement.
JK: It gets worse though. He made nine but if I’m not mistaken, did he not get an edge through about third or fourth slip at one stage as well?
GH: Yeah, second ball went down to Third Man for four. So, five of the nine were extremely polished.
JK: It’s just amazing. Like you said, Usman Khawaja was another one and James Taylor in England recently was another one. It just seems like if anyone comes into Test Cricket and doesn’t fall on their actual face, they’re going to be a hero. I mean Quiney’s a 30-year old man, he’s quite experienced. He’s played in the IPL, he’s played around the world, he played in Sri Lanka as well. He’s a fairly well travelled guy. I’d expect him to at the very least in Test Cricket to put a nine together.
GH: I must say, of all the Australian players in the nets, in the lead up to the game, he looked the most solid. He hit absolutely everything off the middle. So perhaps if Malcolm Conn had been working really hard he would have commented on the sheer excellence of Rob Quiney’s net form. No Australian cricketer has looked quite as impressive in the nets before a Test Match before.
JK: You say that, but had he not made the nine, that’s all you could have gone back on. There’s nothing left. He was amazing in the nets. I saw him doing his shoelaces up before the game, God, he looked good. Alright Gideon, thank you very much. I’ll talk to you after the next Test when Australia will be 1-o up, 1-0 down, draw?
GH: Adelaide, draw, how about that?
JK: I always think Adelaide’s gonna be a draw, it’s never a draw as much as I think it’s going to be.
GH: These days teams find it terribly, terribly difficult to draw Test Matches. Even in Brisbane, with the loss of an entire day, they probably wouldn’t have needed all that much more cricket to get a result out of it. I suspect it will be quite a high scoring game too, particularly if South Africa bowl short to Michael Clarke. Of all the Australian Test Match venues, Adelaide is the one that probably provides the greatest scope for individuals on either side. So both teams should be looking forward to it. One thing I am not looking forward to is the atrocities that have been perpetrated at the ground’s expense. What used to one of most beautiful grounds in Australia is apparently looking like a building site these days. Ian Chappell told me in Brisbane that he doesn’t even know where his bar is anymore. He could probably find out if he asks for directions but that’s a pretty top sign that the place is in disarray.
JK: You’re never gonna get anywhere with me saying that the Adelaide Oval is pretty. I’ve always hoped that it would be ugly just to shut people up about it.
GH: You’re about to get your wish.
JK: Exactly, we’re both out to get our ears syringed. Thank you very much for listening.
GH: Cheers Jarrod, Bye.