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​Not Just Cricket

“IT’S JUST not cricket!” could be the most typically English expression I’ve ever heard – at least amongst the polite ones. It’s very hard to top four of my top five vulgar/popular favourite English vernacular gems, viz, “knackered”, “bollocks”, “brass monkeys” and “gobsmacked” and simply impossible to topple my number one, the impossible-to-riposte, well-timed shout of “wanker”.

“It’s just not cricket” encapsulates the fond English hope – the English realist, or anyone else in the world, might use the word, “delusion” – that nobody in history has ever played as fairly as the English; and that to depart from the noble English example is a sin so great as to be unthinkable: it’s just not cricket!

Don’t mind that, in England itself, most people not directly involved in cricket don’t even think about it – and those who do usually sneer at it as a self-indulgent pastime for the kind of noses-in-the-air-and-heads-in-the-clouds toffs who don’t realise that most people somehow get through life without chauffeurs, butlers and game-keepers and the annual Christmas dilemma of water-skiing at the winter mansion in Sandy Lane, Barbados, or snow-skiing at the little chalet in St Moritz that can only sleep ten if someone roughs it on the fireside sheepskin rug.

Thankfully, where it might seem unseemly for us to protest, English commentators, like former England captain, Mike Atherton (volubly supported by Australian master spin bowler, Shane Warne), have led the uproar over the International Cricket Council’s bizarre decision to enforce a low-over rate-ban on Jason Holder, preventing him from captaining the West Indies in the final Test against England; when the people who coined the phrase declare “it’s just not cricket”, we know it is indeed most unjust cricket.

The wrongness is so glaring, it can even be perceived by the West Indies cricket president. Even a stopped clock is right twice a day, of course, but you know a decision is nonsense when it can be recognised as such by a man whose last epiphany was that it was far more beneficial to West Indies cricket for him to sip champagne in plush boxes on the periphery of cricket pitches than to have Dwayne & Darren Bravo in the middle.

Lloyd Best, the greatest – the only? – intellectual we’ve produced since CLR James, used to say (quoting “the Chinese”) that, “when the wrong man does the right thing, the right thing becomes the wrong thing”.

But not even the man who presided over the deliberate extinguishment of ourselves, as “West Indies”, and our branded-for-marketing replacement by the ironic “Windies” (at just the moment in history when we were far more like to lose these), not even our cricket board president can, with his kiss-of-death support, justify such a blatantly unfair decision.

How the firetruck, ICC, do you penalize the captain who has just won a Test match in three days for failing to bowl two firetrucking overs? If ever there were a case for a rule not being blindly applied because it would produce a perverse result, this is it. To take Jason Holder away from the West Indies when he is so clearly the Man of the Series is just not cricket.

Today, there is only man in the whole cricket world more deserving of derision than the ICC president (or the Cricket West Indies one).


In my annual “predictions” column last month (Jan 11), I wrote:

West Indies will lose an entire Test match in the first session of the first day, being forced to follow on after being unable to make half the other team’s first innings score of two, declared, with ten West Indies wickets being taken for duck, twice; West Indies players will grumble about having to wait a whole hour for lunch and Cricket West Indies will rename the team Windies Are the Champions of the World

I have never been happier in my life to say I was totally firetrucking wrong, just like the ICC is today and the West Indies cricket president almost always is – but at least I’ll confess and admit, not confess and avoid.

When the third Test starts in Antigua on Saturday, will the cricket world be able to say the same thing, about the ICC CEO?

Will West Indies be treated fairly?

Or will the rule be applied blindly, to our detriment?

Hmmm. I see a prediction for the future that I will not be wrong about.

It’s just not firetrucking cricket.

And I have one word for the ICC.

The plural form of my favourite vulgar English expression.

BC Pires bats at number 11 – and he doesn’t bowl.

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