Bring On Uncle Fester

Tuesday, 25 June 2013

Since I’ve got a largish fiction project I’m trying to finish and the morning walk usually provides the opportunity to nut out the next bit, you might suppose developments like the overnight sacking of the Australian cricket coach will be seen as an unwelcome intrusion, since it’s something Hughesy will feel obliged to comment on.

Mickey Arthur’s sacking, and the appointment of Darren Lehmann to replace him, does, however, bring a couple of long-standing issues to the fore, and not just the most obvious ones concerning homework and Joe Root’s wig.

Note the emphasis on the just there. One can’t help suspecting that there’s a lot more going on under the surface with a team that would seem to include a number of individuals with egos larger than many small planets.

Let’s start with the seemingly minor issue of who the members of the Australian cricket team actually listen to.

Elite sports people, of course, are in the position where they’re bombarded with opinions, criticism, helpful and unhelpful suggestions from all directions, friends and opponents. Maybe not quite twenty-four seven, but not far off it.

So you can understand why they might be inclined to be selective about who they listen to. Cricketers who’ve played at the highest level tend, as far as I can see, to only heed the advice of their notional peers, and the current CEO, being a moderately performed ex-Shield player and the High Performance manager, being a Rugby person would not seem to qualify.

That’s not a peculiarly Australian issue. Indian Test players weren’t inclined to heed Greg Chappell’s opinions and suggestions, Bennett King might have coached Queensland to a couple of Sheffield Shield/Pura Cup wins but didn’t last too long as coach of the West Indies. The Astute Reader would probably be able to come up with other international examples.

Much of this, of course, has come about since the emergence of the professional coach, and the rise of national coaching accreditation, something that has allowed a number of moderately performed first class players to build up a career in the game. Take a look around the periphery of most sides that can afford the outlay and you’ll find any number of support staff, any or all of whom can be selectively ignored if you’re not inclined to see their presence as important.

That, from where I’m sitting, would appear to be the source of the recent situation. Mickey Arthur might have been the nominal coach, but wasn’t seen as someone certain players needed to pay attention to when he’s trying to lay down the law.

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 © Ian Hughes 2014