TThe Ashes are coming, the Ashes are coming. And yet, if you paid attention to cricket over the past couple of weeks, you might identify with a lack of enthusiasm. Rather, you can identify with weariness, mistrust, general swirling unease. Australia and England, this pair, where those who lead the game and those who lead the teams drape themselves upside down in glory.
The two captains, according to the pre-series marketing, have reduced to one captain, which means that 100% of the remaining captains and 100% of the former captains in this series exist under a cloud. Australia’s reputable anointed repairman Tim Paine stepped down from his commission via the nation’s tradition of tearful public apologies after his homemade erotica reached late publication. England’s flawless golden child Joe Root has always been fiercely claimed as the property of Yorkshire, and so must remain so, as a teammate who Azeem Rafiq said in testimony at a hearing parliamentarian, was oblivious to the racist gossip.
Describing Cricket Australia as an administration in turmoil may wrongly suggest that this is an exception rather than a norm. It would also be too kind to suggest the possible visit from outside problems. In fact, the texts were coming from inside the house. For at least five years, CA has been a whirlwind of incompetence, where a high attrition rate of failing executives and directors has been offset by enough new replacements to keep the whole mess unabated in the same. direction. There are decent people in this place, but so far they have been kept away, ignored as they shouted for directions to something better.
No one needs the 1950s itch about relationships anymore. But while Paine is the kind of story that only concerns members of his marriage, the fact remains that Cricket Australia has investigated the conduct at work of its new captain after leading the team in a total of one test match. Shortly thereafter, in November 2018, just as their mercenaries displayed “elite honesty” on large signs hanging on the locker room wall, all parties chose to bury this fact. Despite the constant threat of this being known, they never came out before the story. They sat quietly and hoped he would do the same.
All of that before I get to the issue of consent or whatever. CA this week reiterated its 2018 findings that the messages were mutually desired, but will not explain why the recipient is now disputing this. They also state that the interaction was ad hoc, despite the familiarity of the correspondence strongly indicating that this is implausible. As with Yorkshire and Rafiq, the findings of the cricket authorities investigating themselves are not worth the paper they are not printed on.
Then you have the England and Wales Cricket Council claiming shocked and dismayed by Rafiq’s testimony that they just went 15 months without listening, leaving Yorkshire to try and slow down time. All the while, they were asking English players to wear nice T-shirts before every match with slogans that cricket was a game for everyone. They sprinkled fortunes by playing a fortnight in the unnecessarily confrontational Hundred competition, rather than investing those resources and ingenuity to elevate the T20 County tournament, and the best suits this year have paid for Â£ 2.1million. sterling bonus to congratulate themselves on their wise financial management. last year by laying off 62 employees to get through the pandemic.
It all correlates with the English test captain’s milquetoast response to Rafiq, a smoothie of motivational quotes on how to move forward together, in the way that makes Root an ideal study in Yeats’ formulation of the half-hearted best. When Root carries England with his staff, it only emphasizes the contrast. He’ll have to do a lot in the next series.
Teams can come to mirror the flaws of their boards, just as the reverse. The Ashes boards as well as India are responsible for so many things, towering over the International Cricket Council as they do. Their recent schedule announcement gives India five major events in 10 years, including two of three 50-over World Cups, while Australia and England share three events. By the end of the season, 14 of Australia’s last 19 tests will have been either India or England.
Both CA and the ECB are desperately hoping that in Brisbane attention will be on the ground. But they’re hardly ready for a 2005 barnstormer. And some of the 2005 heroes have lost a bit of shine recently anyway. Instead, two already ordinary teams now look like something more vulgar and tarnished, a tired routine leaning on too few stars, going through the test to produce more money for the old company. It’s hard to feel inspired. It would really be something to have people running the game who could handle that.