As I write, the first day of the third Test has been washed out, meaning that Mickey Arthur’s stern discipline seems to be working already.
If things go to plan, perhaps the next four days will also be washed out, and the Arthur-Clarke tactics will have sparked a mighty comeback from the humiliation of Hyderabad.
But seriously, a lot has already been written about the homework-related sackings, and there seems so little to add, except to note that the commenter on another article who referred to it as cricket’s “brown M and Ms moment” may have been right.
Just as Van Halen used the demand for a bowl of M and Ms without the brown ones to make sure the venue management had properly read the safety requirements in their contract, Mickey Arthur and Michael Clarke might legitimately worry about the ability of a man to concentrate for five days of elite sport when they can’t take fifteen minutes out of their weekend to jot down some ideas.
Oh and to also note that Shane Warne was a lot more likeable when he was leaping around hotel rooms with nude ladies than when he’s writing manifestos.
What I’d really like to do here is to send a message to the Australian team, who I assume are reading this, or at least having an assistant or family member read it for them.
And that message is: GO YOU GOOD THINGS.
You’ve seen movies. You’ve read books. You know when the greatest moments in sport happen: when all seems lost. When your fortunes have hit rock bottom and started fracking for coal seam gas beneath.
When everything has fallen down in a screaming heap around you and your only option seems to be to lie down and start whimpering and eating rubble.
Ian Botham at Headingley 1981. VVS Laxman and Rahul Dravid at Kolkata 2001. Michael Atherton’s entire career.
Isn’t it time we added “the whole Australian team 2013″ to the list? Isn’t it time we let slip the dogs of war?
This is not to say the players are soft, or that they haven’t been trying.
I’m not here to join the media cabal best described as “people who make kissy faces at photos of Ian Chappell”, who can’t seem to stop going on about how David Boon used to drink so much that his square cut was actually an unusually useful instance of delirium tremens, or how Doug Walters’ batting coach was a pack of Winnie Blues.
You know, we get it guys: Dennis Lillee never used a computer and Rod Marsh would punch you if you asked him to attend meetings and everyone who played cricket 30 years ago was just a perfectly-shaped streak of manly gristle and anti-authoritarian resentment.
Well you know what? It’s 2013 now, everyone. Maybe we can update our world view a bit.
Reading the sports pages these days is like being told to throw away your iPhone given how well people used to manage with telegrams. Come on.
No, what I’m saying is, Australian cricketers, you’re in a tight spot. Nobody believes in you. They think your talents are modest, your attitude is disgraceful and your team processes are pathetic.
The media has given up on you. Social media has given up on you.
The Indian team is considering doing everything with their non-preferred hand just to give you a sporting chance.
No one thinks you can win the next Test, or the one after that, or the ten after that.
Winning the Ashes is seen as an outcome roughly as likely as the new Pope converting to Sikhism.
According to the whole world, you’re not good enough and you haven’t got the faintest clue how to get any better.
Well, are you going to take that? Are you going to sit there and let us all go on thinking that?
After all the hard work and sacrifice you put in to become Test cricketers, are you going to let the public tell you that you don’t work hard enough and you don’t care about that baggy green on your head?
Are you going to see articles titled “Poms gloat as Aussies become laughingstock” and listen to people tell you that this is a reason to change everything you’re doing?
Are you, the Australian cricket team, going to start caring what England thinks?
No, you’re NOT, dammit! You’re going to stick your chin out at the world, tell them to take their best shot, and you are going to FIGHT!
You’re going to fight like Allan Border in the Caribbean. You’re going to fight like Stan McCabe against Bodyline. You’re going to fight like Slasher Mackay at Adelaide, Dean Jones at Chennai and Rick McCosker at Melbourne.
You’re going to fight like Rocky, like Daniel-san, like Indiana Freaking Jones.
You’re going to fight like demons.
And the Indians will send down those fizzing grenades to spit and pop out of the dust, and they’ll prance down the wicket and crack you to all corners of the ground.
And later the English will strut and preen and swing the ball viciously and stroke the ball culturedly and every moment from now until the end of the double-barrelled Ashes will be hard as hell.
But you’re going to keep fighting. And you may not win this Test. You may not win another Test all year, but by God no team is going to walk off the field thinking they’ve not been in a fight.
You’re going to fill in your wellness reports, you’re going to turn up to practice on time, you’re going to train like men possessed and you’re going to stick together like desperate fugitives huddling in a cave in the middle of a rainstorm, and every action you undertake will be directed solely at making the rest of the world regret ever looking at you funny.
What I’m saying, team, is to hell with objective analysis and reasoned commentary.
Circle your wagons, tell everyone else to shove their criticisms where the light metre reads “gloomy”, and tear back into international cricket like a rabid Rottweiler.
And even if you end up getting put down, you’re going to make damn sure some legs get bitten before the end.
Nobody believes you can do it. At one minute to midnight, it’s time to make them all look like idiots. Bare your fangs, Australia, and BITE.