Category Archives: Shane Warne

Cameron White Is Wrong About Marlon ‘The Legend’ Samuels

Just a quick recap for non-cricket fans: After Shane Warne got in Marlon Samuels’ face during a game, Warne then threw a cricket ball at Samuels (it  may have just been by accident). At this point, Samuels — who, really, had just heard quite a tirade from Warne — threw his bat high in the air (and in Warne’s general direction). The video is below:

So, Warne got into a fair amount of trouble, but Cricinfo reports the verdict for Samuels (and Cameron White’s reaction):

Samuels was let off with a reprimand after the Code of Conduct commissioner John Price ruled that Samuels threw his bat after “extreme provocation” from Warne, who had just thrown a ball that hit Samuels.

“Being provoked, I don’t think you can use that as an excuse,” White said in Melbourne on Tuesday. “It’s remarkable, isn’t it? How many times have you seen someone throw their cricket bat on a cricket field and get [reprimanded] for being extremely provoked? I’ve never seen it before. That’s what the judiciary came up with.”

White is acting as many parents do when their squabbling children start to yell, “Well he started it — No, I didn’t — Yes, you did!”  The easiest course for any parent at this point is to appear neutral and punish both sides equally, and leave aside the thorny factual question of who started what.

While that approach may work for parenting, it’s silly when it comes to adjudicating conflicts among adults. Sticks and stones may break bones, but words can still fucking hurt. Warne was clearly the provocateur during this incident, and his constant, unyielding attempts to unsettle Samuels was designed to elicit some reaction.* I’m passionate about this case because of a similar one that occurred in 2008 between Gautam Gambhir and Shane Watson. The Australian tormented Gambhir during the course of his innings, and started to swear at him. Gambhir, understandably angry, elbowed Watson. The judge — the estimable A. Sachs — dismissed Anil Kumble’s argument that swearing is particularly offensive to South Asians, who place high stock on the power of words. As he put it, “However severe the verbal assaults on them may be, players are obliged not to give vent to their anger through physical retaliation.”

Again, very silly. Speech matters, and it can in fact cause harm. To focus on the physical aspect of an argument seems natural, since violence among men is always a concern. But it is ridiculous not to view harmful speech as potentially injurious as well. Sachs would prefer that players turn the other cheek for as long as they stay at the crease, and maintain a masculine silence about the whole thing. Meanwhile, the sledger — the one having fun at somebody’s expense — enjoys a massive legal loophole, because he knows that, to a large extent, sledging in cricket is tolerated (and increasingly celebrated).

No, commissioner Price was right, and White wrong: you get in another player’s face, then you should expect to have a cricket bat coming at you.

*I understand that Warne was simply “repaying” Samuels for tugging at Hussey’s shirt, which I felt was reprehensible. However, cricketers are not judges, and Warne should have left it to the match referee to pass judgment on Samuels.

What Warne Did Right

There have been some pretty strong critiques of Shane Warne post-Marlon Samuels-bat-shirt-fracas. My favorite comes from The Guardian:

On the pitch, though, this Stepford Wives-style Warne is looking older than ever. He has turned in a series of performances for the Melbourne Stars in Australia’s Big Bash League that have spanned the range from embarrassing to mediocre. He’s been a wax-mannequin manqué, hapless with the ball, helpless in the field and with the bat.

Fair enough. On the other hand, life can be fairly hard for cricketers after they retire. You spend about twenty or more years training for a specific task, and then you find you then have to turn to at least another thirty years of life. You could go into coaching, but not if you have concerns about spending time with your family. If you know how to talk and act the showman, as Warne does, you head straight to the commentary box and try to retain at least a shred of dignity before fans figure out you’re just a jumble of catch-phrases. What Warne has tried to do is quite revolutionary — he understands that T20 leagues are basically dressed-up pick-up cricket games. People aren’t watching because they want the finest cricket; they want to drink, see a few shots, and players do crazy things. In T20, there is a fine line between the exhibition match and the real thing. To argue that Warne hasn’t performed well in the Big Bash League is to miss the point — which is, “Mom, dad, can we go see Shane Warne at the stadium today?”

One more interesting thing: T20 introduced a number of ancillary elements to cricket coverage, like a hyped-up DJ, cheerleaders, and silly ways to resolve ties. It also started to break the fourth wall and have commentators talk to cricketers on the ground during play. In theory, this could be a lot of fun, but from what I’ve seen, most players are either too distracted, too timid, or just completely lacking in verbal intelligence to say anything remotely interesting. Not Warne — he’s talking to the commentators right before he’s bowling. “I wouldn’t mind if he took a single here,” he says. Now imagine if Warne had confronted Samuels without the F-bomb, or the tugging of the shirt. What if he had said something aggressive but within the bounds of cricket, like, “It must be harder to bat with a bent arm, eh Marlon?” Wouldn’t we have all loved to “overhear” that exchange? Cricket match as reality television, people: welcome to the future.

Aleem Dar Is A Very, Very Good Umpire

Aleem Dar has won the ICC Best Umpire award for the second year in a row. It’s an especially important commendation because the captains of the ten cricket teams were among the jury pool.

And here’s a nice little YouTube clip to validate their judgment:

Shane Warne Liked To Win

The Old Batsman and I had some fun at Shane Warne’s expense when we mocked his “match awareness” commentary. But he’s actually really quite good in that he never ceases looking for ways bowlers or batsmen can gain the advantage in a game. It’s no wonder the Australians keep winning, sometimes even from seemingly impossible situations, when they have this kind of ethos ingrained in the team.

During the England v. Pakistan match, for example, Warne noticed Umar Gul stuttering at the start of his run-up. He said Andrew Strauss, then on strike, should take advantage and put Gul even more off-rhythm. Before that, he said Mohammed Aamer should set up Jonathan Trott with a quick, in-swinging yorker. Sure, some of it can be silly and unrealistic, but Warne basically asks the questions each player should in cricket: why am I here? What do I do with this ball (or bat), and how do I gain the upper hand?

Ross Emerson Is Such A Mean Old Man

Kudos to those who catch the Beatles reference in the headline.

There are a couple of things wrong with what Ross Emerson did, when he blathered to media outlets this week that Murali “didn’t deserve” the all-time wicket taker record. First, apart from the technicalities of Murali’s action, insulting the guy after he announces his retirement from Test cricket hardly seems fair, or all that polite. It’s not as if there was a huge stain on Emerson’s career that needed to be washed (and if there were, spouting off about Murali now wouldn’t change a thing).

Secondly, and more importantly, Emerson — like a lot of Australians — does not understand what the rules are or why they were changed. Here’s what he says:

“I haven’t changed my view in 15 years – he doesn’t deserve the record,” Emerson told Sydney’s Daily Telegraph. “You couldn’t compare his record to Shane Warne’s – no one ever doubted the legality of Warne’s action. Murali was a great competitor and a great bowler but a lot of the time he just didn’t bowl within the limits of the law.”

Right, except people did doubt the legality of Warne’s action. Experts — scientists, for God’s sake! — found that nearly all bowlers (except, I think, for R. Sarwan) broke the same rule that Murali was accused of breaking. That’s just hard, empirical fact, seconded by an authority no less prestigious than Michael Holding.

Then there’s this second doozy:

“Once they changed the rules and made it legal for bowlers to bend their arm to 15 per cent they gave an advantage to a couple of bowlers who could get something extra from that rule. I would rather see the rule as it was where you couldn’t bend your arm at all. That would mean everyone was the same.”

OK; this is just absolute, utter nonsense: first, if you allow every bowler to bend arms to 15 degrees (as opposed to “per cent”), you are applying the same rule to everyone. That may sound tautological, but Emerson doesn’t seem to understand that — it’s not as if some bowlers get to bend to 15, and others don’t.

Secondly, the reason the rule was enforced was that nothing under 15 degrees could be detected by the naked eye. It’s all well and good to say 0 degrees, but if a trees falls in a forest and no one’s around to see it — well, it’s pointless to argue about it.

And thirdly, and most importantly, and once again, Ross: everyone bends arms when bowling. Yes, we’d all like a rule that says “no one can bend arms.” But that would reduce every fucking bowler — except, of course, R. Sarwan — to cheating.

So, great, enjoy your 15 minutes in the fame. But keep in mind that no one cares about you, or your career, except for your connection to Muralitharan. Ah, irony.

P.S. Read a report on Murali’s action here.

Post-Colonial Issues With The Rajasthan Royals

Like many people, I was initially drawn to the Rajasthan Royals because of their underdog story. The cheapest team! The one with all those Indian unknowns!

The narrative has some good things going for it: first, it shows off how much Indian cricketing talent goes unnoticed (hint, hint, national selectors); second, it shows how players can be spotted, picked, and then nurtured in a collegial atmosphere; third, it upended all our assumptions about quality and money.

But there’s a little post-colonial problem, alas. Watching the IPL coverage, I feel like too much credit goes to Shane Warne rather than the players themselves. We have a team that is almost completely run by white people (even if its owners are Indian), who are usually praised for helping the young Indians “mature.” You saw this best in the 18th match against the Delhi Daredevils, when an out-of-form Graeme Smith supposedly guided a mercurial Yusuf Pathan to victory. The scorecard says something different: Pathan, 62* off 30 balls; Smith, 44* from 46.

Am I reading too much here? Perhaps. As Tishani Doshi recently wrote,  Warne has clearly turned a corner on his brash side and is almost always ready with an encouraging word. But it’s always the same framework in the commentary: wise Warne, young Indians; knowing Warne, brash Indians. You can almost hear Rudyard Kipling nodding in the stands.

Kamran Khan Called For Chucking

From AFP:

Khan, the son of a woodcutter from Uttar Pradesh in India, was reported by umpires Rudi Koertzen and Graham Baxter after the Royals’ Indian Premier League match against the Chennai Super Kings at Centurion Thursday.

Homer was first on the case. Uncle J Rod (jokingly, I think) suspects an Australian conspiracy. I asked the question about Khan’s action in an earlier post.

Kamran Khan’s Yorker

Shane Warne’s chosen one only had one over in the match against the Cobras, but he also offered this choice yorker:

Detaching IPL from Time, Space, and Country

Regular readers will know I don’t have much love for the IPL, or Twenty20 for that matter. I thought the last tournament went on too long and, even though I’m glad cricket viewership increased, I thought the franchises were made-up and the amounts of money thrown about ill-considered.

The latest move to off-shore the tournament to South Africa, though, is an interesting experiment. The IPL began with a big first challenge: will cricket fans root for teams that did not exist before and have only the barest connections to their host cities? Why would, say, a Jaipur resident support the Rajasthan Royals, given that the captain is Shane Warne, who is clearly not Rajasthani? At the time, I didn’t think it would work out, but apparently it did.

Now, the IPL inadvertently poses a second big question: does it even matter where a cricket match is held? Continue reading

Are We All Australian Now?

I was looking at yesterday’s post that called on India to dominate New Zealand, and I started to feel a bit embarrassed. While I’ve enjoyed India’s recent success as much as anyone else, I’ve also had qualms about whether or not we’ve lost a certain “Indian” method of winning, taking too many pages from the Australian cookbook. During the 2007 India-Australia series, for instance, I was particularly irked when the Indian media urged the team to respond tit-for-tat to any perceived Australian sledge. If they do it, the argument went, we can do it even better!

I wonder, though, if the Indian brand of cricket — an attritional, patient game that respects draws and fate and also relies on crumbling pitches and wily spinners — has been lost in the modern age. Continue reading