After England’s amazing performance in Cardiff (I still can’t quite believe it) expectations are high for the second test. We’ve talked about momentum before, and how little things can indicate which way the wind is blowing, but it’s worth repeating here. England just seem to be getting the breaks at the moment.
It all started with the retirement of Ryan Harris, who surely would’ve played at Lord’s if fit. And now the news has broken that Brad Haddin, another pre-series danger man, will miss the second test due to personal reasons.
In the past, things like this only seemed to happen to England. Whether it was Graham Thorpe skipping a tour, Darren Gough breaking his foot, or Marcus Trescothick going home with a stress related illness, you just knew the tour was ill-fated from the start. Maybe the luck is finally beginning to even up?
However, it seems inappropriate to celebrate Australia’s current malaise. Ryan Harris is a thoroughly decent bloke, and after talking to Simon Jones about his injury woes a couple of weeks ago, I know how demoralising injuries can be for pro-sportsmen. Harris must be devastated that he can’t help his teammates during their hour of need.
The withdrawal of Haddin is also deeply concerning. Nobody seems to know exactly what the problem is this time, but one hopes his daughter Mia is alright. A couple of years ago, Haddin took a six month break from cricket when his baby girl was diagnosed with a form of cancer. Let’s hope whatever problems Haddin or his family are going through have a happy ending.
It’s easy to forget that cricket is only a game when the Ashes bandwagon gets rolling. However, events off the field this week deserve our attention, and we shouldn’t let the hype and hyperbole obscure more important issues.
Aside from the players’ health, some extremely significant political news broke yesterday. The Chennai Super Kings, who are led by MS Dhoni and are co-owned by Gurunath Meiyappan, have been banned from the IPL for illegal betting and match-fixing. The same fate has befallen the Rajasthan Royals.
Who is Gurunath Meiyappan you may ask? Well, he just happens to be the son-in-law of former BCCI president and current ICC president N. Srinivasan. What’s more, the company that owns the rights to the Chennai franchise is Indian Cements. And who is the managing director of Indian cements? You guessed it, it’s that man Srinivasan again.
Obviously this news is absolutely devastating for cricket. Srinivasan has been embroiled in various controversies over the years, and last year the Supreme Court of India asked him to step down as BCCI chairman. Obviously he found a home at the ICC, where he schmoozes with the likes of Giles Clarke. What is it about the ICC and unpopular administrators who aren’t wanted by their own anymore?
Last night I went to the press screening of Sam Collins and Jarrod Kimber’s important film Death of a Gentleman. I can’t reveal too much about the film just yet, but I left the auditorium in a sombre mood. World cricket is absolutely doomed while its governance is shambolic and its leaders are worrying close to major scandals.
I don’t want to end on a depressing note, as cricket is primarily a form of entertainment and we’d all like to enjoy tomorrow’s action without being bogged down by the politics, but it’s impossible to ignore the challenges the game faces at this time.
My advice is therefore this: enjoy the Ashes one and all, but don’t forget about or forgive those who jeopardise our brilliant sport. And while you’re at it, spare a thought for players who are going through a hard time.
We wish the Haddin family all the best, and perhaps even extend our sympathies for Shane Watson, who has been unceremoniously dumped after just one Ashes test. Scapegoating isn’t one of my favourite pastimes either really. I would have given him one more game.