Thursday, July 29, 2010

Pakistan vs England: where clichés collide

There’s an article on cricinfo entitled Pakistan’s nature vs England’s nurture. Obviously I refuse to go near anything like that.

As an Englishman, I have been happily free of any nurturing or maternal love by the cricketing establishment. Not my mum though. She’s ace. Although, she didn’t give me the excellent rhubarb-based education that was afforded to Geoffrey Boycott.

So! England’s woefully ungifted line-up play Pakistan’s backstreet bruisers. You see, Englishmen have no talent, by they do have oodles of coaching manuals. That’s how this works. Pakistan, however, doesn’t have any coaching manuals. Or coaches. But they do have heart.

Characterising a test match as a Rocky sequel is an excellent way to put off sniffy cricket fans Рsuch as AYALAC. So, here in Atheist Towers, we have developed a sure-fire to prevent clich̩ rage.

  1. There will be inhalations of surprise when a Pakistan batsman plays a forward defensive. Anticipate this by blowing the air back into the breathers’s judgemental maw during the stroke. This should balance the background bastardliness that pervades the universe.
  2. At some point, an English batsmen will play a stroke. It is possible that runs will follow. It is certain that the commentator will chortle, “ho ho ho, he’s being watching too much Afridi!” An eye-roll will not suffice. Bellow. Bellow with all the anger that years of missed opportunities and unnaturally high expectations have given you.
  3. You friends may reflect any of these opinions prevalent in the press. Steely stares or years of unexplained silence are the best way to deal with this.
  4. Upon hearing a commentator saying “thank god he didn’t have that coached out of him”, perform three rollie-pollies whilst saying “thereisnotoothfairythereisnotoofairythereisnotoothfairythereisnotoothfairy”.
  5. In response to the word “mercurial” kick the nearest man in suit, kindly-looking old woman or pigeon.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Pakistan give lazy headline writers enough material for three years

Pakistan are “mercurial”. We know this because confirmation bias says it is so.

Unless you are Bangladesh, your side will experience of a mixture of wins and losses. This is called life. You win some, you lose some.

England have been doing it for years. Odd spots of brilliance, individual efforts that occasionally win a match, caste against a general schedule of underperformance and defeat. We call it “inconsistency”. It was England’s big problem for ages.

Pakistan have the same problem. Exactly the same. Only we have a different word for them. They are “mercurial”. This means that they win some games, but lose others. This is pretty much normal, but in our happy group-think world, this has become a big problem.

In each case, the analysis has taken a life of its own, and, although the problems are seemingly identical, the diagnosis differs and therefore the prescription are different.

For England, we needed to give mediocre players as many games as possible until they discover their previously well-concealed talents. Until they were dropped. In fairness, a selectoral policy that encourages stability has been successful, and did address underlying weaknesses.

For Pakistan, their mercurialness obviously required Geoff Lawson. Although, Pakistan’s incomprehensibly incompetent management, with a history of spectacularly self-destructive and inexplicable acts, stands as the country’s man obstacle to international success.

The solution to this might be to hand its governance to a distant, level-headed, impartial and moderately successful body. Perhaps the managing board of the Umbongo Juice Company?

Anyway, Pakistan is wildly unpredictable and, quite frankly, mad. The leadership issued life bans to its two best players for expressing doubt as to the leadership’s wisdom. The captaincy is awarded through a bingo competition over the morning’s cornflakes. This is later taken away if the captain opts for toast. Or Rice Krispies. Or whatever breakfast offends the coaches on the day.

Then, the team, despite the heavy weather, the game goes on, and Pakistan bowl out Australia for under 100 and chase down their total in under a day.

The hacks just sit back and lap it up.