Thursday 14 March 2013

Some friendly advice for the Aussies in India

Over the past couple of days the Australian Test squad in India have become the butt of a thousand jokes. Mostly lame jokes, but jokes nonetheless. Meanwhile, those who haven't been joking have been wagging their fingers disapprovingly and tut-tutting at the supposedly shambolic state of Australian cricket.

Irrespective of your view on the gravity of the transgressions by players or the severity of the punishments meted out by their coach and captain, you have to admit that touring India is tough.  In the 78 years since the first representative Australians traveled to India at the behest of the Maharajah of Patiala, we have come away with two series victories. So let's just take a breath and come down off the ledge, shall we?

The Maharajah of Patiala - the kind of swag that N Srinivasan could only dream of.

In the interests of maintaining my own sanity, I'm writing off this and every future tour of India as a loss and instead turning my attention to the remaining positives. In this light, I'd ask that the Australians view the rest of this trip as nothing other than a bonding exercise and extremely lucrative holiday. Here are my suggestions for Clarke and co which I base on the touring activities of their predecessors:

1. Try and make friends with the opposition

Nathan Lyon has copped a decent helping of stick from both the press and the peanut gallery on this tour and is supposedly at the pointy end of faction within the team. With that in mind, perhaps he'll find more friends in the opposition sheds? I'd love to see him sidle up to Harbhajan and ask if he can adopt his look, a la Ray Bright and Bishen Bedi

In the event of an unlikely Aussie win in Mohali,surely even freshly minted "Captain Grumpy" Michael Clarke would crack a smile once he saw Lyon-Nathan up on the massage bench belting out "Beneath the Southern Cross I stand, a bowl of korma in my hand." He'd at least enjoy it more than a Simon Katich rendition.

2. Have a drink and relax

I'm not generally one to recommend novelty sized drinks, but Warnie could be onto something with his suggestions that Clarke eliminate any tensions by locking all the boys in a room with an industrial quantity of grog. I mightn't have viewed this as a viable solution during the Andrew Symonds era, but at least we could be sure they were abusing a totally legal substance.

3. Be thankful you are touring India in 2013

In the 1960's, when an Indian crowd didn't like the direction of the match, they voted with both their feet and with lighter fluid. Crowds are far better behaved these days. I'd actually be in favour of this kind of people power if it was in reaction to Watto metaphorically burning another DRS referral, so the BCCI were possibly displaying some real foresight in nixing the technology.

Let's also not forget that touring teams now enjoy the benefit of neutral umpires. This is a bonus for two reasons; it eliminates hometown bias plus also avoids the situation faced by the Aussies in the 80's where umpires like Swaroop Kishan forced bowlers into makeshift delivery strides from which they had to release the ball from mid off. I guess there'd be a fair few guys asking to field next to him at square leg though; shade is hard to find in the middle of an Indian summer.

3. Embrace the local culture

Maybe this could be a way to put James Pattinson to work during his team-imposed suspension. I'm sure that the puritanical knee-jerkers in the op-ed columns would love to see Mickey Arthur initiate a cricketing "work for the Dole" scheme for Pattinson, Khawaja and Johnson. 

Remember, Greg Ritchie wasn't the first Australian cricketer to "black up" and don a mildly offensive costume. The 1964 Aussies came up with this look on their way to Bombay. The 2013 Australians might need to be a bit more low-key in their attempts to mix with the locals.

4. The team that bathes together, stays together

We need to be honest with ourselves, cricketers in 2013 are coddled millionaires. Is it any surprise that touring Aussies are not meshing given that they're often insulated from the simple pleasures of team spirit by multimillion dollar contracts and luxury hotel rooms? Instead of blocking each other out with iPods and living in isolation, perhaps Clarke could hark back to the spirit of the 1972 Ashes squad who were so unified they even had baths together. Who wants a moustache ride?

5. If all else fails, do a rain dance

We've all been there; staring in the face of humiliating defeat and all secretly avoiding any discussion of the fact that we're praying like buggery for rain to come bucketing down. I actually played for a club who greeted rain delays with a game of "jockstrap football" out on the ground. Never underestimate the ability of men with a huge amount of time on their hands to achieve greatness. Graham Pollock and his 1965 South African teammates make it look like a right lark, don't you think?


  1. The rain dance must have worked. Now they have to tick the precipitation boxes on their wellness charts.

    1. Actually wrote that before I saw the forecast. 9 days of rain-dancing to go...