This week the cricket world was stunned when ageing former cricket umpire Dickie Bird released his best Test XI and overlooked Jesse Ryder.
Dickie had more. No West Indian speedster made the list either. No Holding, no Marshall, not even Nixon McLean could make it to Dickie’s list, which probably means watching it from the other end isn’t as scary as facing it.
But Dickie wasn’t done there. Don Bradman also missed out. Now, it is Australian law that all greatest XIs feature Don, so Dickie will be arrested the next time he sets foot in Australia.
Then Dickie got serious with his trolling. He took on the Sachin internet militia. I’d like to believe that Dickie knew that by leaving Sachin out he’d be annoying many people. According to many headlines, this mostly ignored XI shook the cricket fraternity. Former India batsman Chandu Borde said, “One need not refer to his XI. From my point of view, it’s the English media which has made Bird an umpiring legend. He’s always bias.” But even more aggressive was this quote from Dilip Vengsarkar to PTI: “I don’t wish to comment on this.” The best comment from a reader was Danier’s on Daily News & Analysis. “Who is Bird??? Let cut his feathers.”
While Dickie trolled, Australia did what they could for Sachin’s ego. They created a waxwork dummy of the man and put him next to Don Bradman. I mean, what more can you ask for?
Sachin is, according to some, (not me, I love you Sachin, I want you to play until you need a carer to walk you to the wicket) currently batting like he’s made of wax. But he had the only ally he needed this week when one half of Shroni, Mr N Srinivasan, came out and said to Outlook magazine: “I have absolutely no doubt that Indian cricket needs him – and will leave the final call [on when he should quit] to him.”
Just once I hope one of these champion cricketers really abuses this right and plays until he’s 64 and his arthritic hands can’t even hold on to a bat. And for the last 22 years of his career, administrators and fans just keep saying, “He’ll go when he’s ready”. And the frail grey-haired champion will just continue to get worse and worse while these fans and administrators continue their nonsensical thoughts.
If Srini really wanted Sachin to choose his own future, wouldn’t he just make him chairman of selectors? Or at least make him head of marketing for India Cements?
Shane Watson is not as indestructible as Sachin. He knew very well that he was lucky to be staying on as vice-captain for Australia after what went on in India, and in various airports. And being that Australian cricket has no Srini-like figure, Watson has decided to step down from the vice-captaincy and focus on his game.
Now, I think this is a great move. But if this is anything like Shane Watson’s other public statements, next week he will want the job again. Then he will talk to key management about the job. Before long he’ll be vice-captain of an IPL team. And then through the next two series he will change his mind on a match-by-match basis, like in some tacky courtroom drama.
In real cricket courtroom matters Brendon McCullum is to sue John Parker for his 77-point dossier about the sacking of Ross Taylor and the governance of New Zealand Cricket. Parker repeated a lot of hearsay, or just general rumours, about what had happened to Taylor, and very few of them make McCullum seem like the sort of guy you want to share a malted milkshake with. McCullum had two choices: either ignore the report based on the fact John Parker has been mocked and abused since his paper came out, or prolong the story with a lawsuit.
Another Brendan had a far better week than this. Zimbabwean geek chic Brendan Taylor outscored Bangladesh in the first innings and made enough runs in the second to think he could outscore them in the Test. At the very least he is the first non-Flower to make a hundred in each innings for Zimbabwe.
“The competition was really hard-fought with just the odd wide or good shot being the difference between winning and losing in a number of matches. It is noticeable that the overall standard keeps improving each year and the gap between the sides is really small.” That wasn’t a report on the Zimbabwe-Bangladesh Test, but from thisisgloucestershire.co.uk on the Gloucestershire district Lady Taverners’ indoor Under-15 girls tournament, which was won by Stroud High. The game was not shown on Youtube.
Soon it may be as the ECB are no longer just complaining about internet piracy and accusing those who use it of being thieves, they are now offering alternatives. So if you live on mainland Europe you will be able to see the Ashes right on Youtube. Right next to the videos of the cat who jumps in boxes will be the cricket, for all the Ashes-loving Kazakhstanis.
Maybe you don’t live in mainland Europe and you already have access to cricket on TV, so you don’t just want cricket, you want everything that is around cricket. You want to immerse yourself in the cricket world neck deep. For that, you need Ryan ten Doeschate’s literary blog. As Ryan says, “I generally like books for a variety of three reasons: the story line; the style of writing and use of vocabulary; or the knowledge the author imparts to the reader.” And while I count that as four reasons, you still have to respect a cricketer who in his time off reads and reviews book and starts a blog that is linked to the Room to Read charity.
Andrew McDonald was linked to South Australia this week. Which is also an act of charity from the Victorian people to their less fortunate South Australian kin. McDonald also missed out on Dickie’s team. Another conspiracy to defraud Victorian cricket.
If you’ve got anything you think should be in next week’s cricket news hurl, email email@example.com or tweet #cricketnewshurl. As Ryan might say, “I have no doubt that you will enjoy this column’s mixture of facts and excellently written opinions.”