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On the other hand, a smart coach will have at least three reasons why your leg spin needs some work, including (Australian example) the state of Pup’s back (which is going to limit how much left arm tweakery he can bowl), concerns with over rates and getting through ninety in a day, the need for the blokes at the other end of the nets to get practice at balls turning this way or that way and I could probably come up with a couple of others without too much effort.

The coach would be looking for responses similar to how do you reckon they’re landing? and how’s the wrong ‘un looking? followed by requests to book some quality time with the wrist spin mentor when a couple of technical issues have been identified.

Unfortunately, in the current situation one can’t help thinking the responses to suggestions that involve things certain players would prefer not to have to do (and I’m not suggesting anyone has an aversion to bowling in the nets, just picking something that might need work and could add another little option to the tactical armoury) tend to be along the lines of Oh yeah? Well I’ll bear it in mind.

Filling in the details of your dietary intake might be a pain, and you might think that dietician isn’t really necessary, but if you’re playing in Chennai and dehydration’s likely to be an issue that paperwork might just turn out to be very important.

And I’ve seen references to other issues that might look like minor infringements but can have a significant effect on the team culture. Turning up late for the bus to the ground, for example.

You probably don’t need to be Einstein to work out that if play starts at eleven and the team warmup procedure takes an hour and a half you probably want to be at the ground around nine. If the trip between the hotel and the ground tends to take between half an hour and forty-five minutes then the bus needs to leave at eight-fifteen, so it’s in the lobby by eight-ten for a departure five minutes later. 

Critics of the treatment the Homework Four received may or may not agree, but in most cases where there are team rules and protocols in place they’re there for a reason, and they’re meant to ensure that things run smoothly and the side takes the paddock ready to fire.

Warner and the other Australian players in that particular bar on that particular night, mightn’t have broken any team protocols when they went out for a gargle with some of the opposition but they weren’t showing a great deal of strategic nous when it comes to the invariable needle that’ll come through an Ashes series.

And I’m talking what happens on the field here, not what the poison pens of the Pommy press are going to hurl at you if you give them the slightest excuse. We should be operating under the assumption that every situation involving sportsmen, the general public, late nights and alcohol has the potential to become very ugly very quickly.

Take this current situation. Joe Root appears to have gone out wearing a wig and has set out to be funny by using the hirsute accessory to imitate Hashim Amla’s beard. This is what apparently upset Warner, and the scuffle came out of that. Who knows? That may be one of Root’s standard party tricks.


© Ian L Hughes 2021