Category Archives: Darren Lehmann

The Decline and Rise of Cricket Nations

Rather grand title, no? But as I was on another interminable subway ride, I started to wonder: why do some cricketing nations dominate, and others do not? And — given Australia’s recent fall — why do some decline? 

The simplest, and possibly best, answer has something to do with the quality of players. Modern cricket has known only two great teams: the West Indies, which had the reins for a frightfully long time, and Australia. Both these teams had unmatchable players, and kept producing them. The West Indies had Viv Richards, Rohan Kanhai, Malcolm Marshall, all the way down to Courtney Walsh, Curtly Ambrose and lastly, Brian Lara; the Australians — well, you know who they had. 

Once that long supply was exhausted, the team suffered, and Lara was not enough to carry it. The West Indies also missed a trick with the rise of spin, which the Indians consitently relied on, but the Australians — with one Shane Warne — took to a match-winning quality. Pace alone, and spin alone, cannot do the task; one needs both, even if Paul Harris is your one spinner (as in South Africa’s case). Australia, however, now find themselves in the same position the West Indies did in the early 1990s: gone are McGrath and Warne, and Langer and Hayden, and Lehmann and Martyn, and the Waugh brothers and Gilchrist. 

There are underlying factors behind this sudden lack of resources: Continue reading

Fuck Off, Darren

Sorry for the profanity — “it’s just not (a) cricket (blog),” I know — but Darren Lehmann has long epitomized the worst about Australian cricket for me — the arrogance, the dominance, the sense of entitlement — and now that he’s gone, I can’t say I’m too sad about it. Since I matured as a cricket fan during the 1996 World Cup final, I learned early on that some sides were very different from others: as an impressionable brown boy, it mattered very little to me what teams were playing, I would root for the darker shade every time. (Though in all-white matches, I still root for England first…though that just might be self-hatred.)

During a later series, when I heard that Lehmann had called the Sri Lankan opposition a bunch of “black cunts,” it all seemed to click for me: there was big, bad Allan Donald, from South Africa, telling erudite and small Rahul Dravid to go fuck himself after hitting him for a six; even earlier, there was South Africa itself, mysteriously appearing on the world scene after 1991 (“What’s apartheid, mommy?”); there was John Howard, using Muralitharan to score electoral points (only after shipping asylum-seekers to (another) prison island wore off); and now, there was this egg-headed loser. Like I said, cricket was a very easy and heart-breaking introduction to the post-colonial world.

What bothered me most about Lehmann’s insult, however, was just how historically accurate it fit. Continue reading