Grumpy Gus Fraser is right!

I heard an interesting interview with Angus Fraser (yes, grumpy Gus can be interesting at times) on Talksport earlier in response to his article in today’s Independent about the now infamous non run out of Ian Bell.

Gus made some good points about what is and isn’t acceptable levels of gamesmanship within cricket and sport in general. For example, is it acceptable for a bowler to appeal for lbw even if he knows that the batsmen got a slight inside edge? Yes, apparently it is. Anyone who has ever watched a days cricket knows full well it goes on.
As does a batsman not walking when he knows he has thinly nicked one through to the wicketkeeper and the umpire misses it. We all know it goes on and we all accept it as part of the game.
Whether it is right or wrong is another argument.
In the public’s perception of how the game should be played there is an invisible line not defined within the laws of the game. In my view to have upheld that appeal would have overstepped that invisible line – as England did with Grant Elliott in 2008.
While the two earlier examples of not walking and appealing for an lbw knowing the batsman hit the ball seem to fall on the acceptable side of the watching public’s invisible line.
The whole atmosphere surrounding this series would have took a turn for the worse had India upheld that appeal. As a result we would probably have ended up with a similar bitter resentment to the series that we had this time last year against Pakistan. No one wants to see a repeat of that.
That’s why I was happy to see Gus question the motives of Michael Atherton and Nasser Hussain for both saying they wouldn’t have recalled Ian Bell. On top of those two I also heard respected Indian commentator Ravi Shastri saying on TMS at lunch on Monday that he also wouldn’t have recalled Bell.
It’s very easy for all these ex players to say what they would and wouldn’t have done when they haven’t got to make the decision, just look at how attacking and positive they all are in the commentary box when it comes to criticising a playing captain’s decision to declare. It’s a shame they didn’t take that attitude when they played, they might have been a bit more entertaining if they did.
The world is full of people only too happy to tell us what they would do in certain circumstances. How many times have we sat in the pub and heard someone say how they would confront and fight someone if they caught them burgling their house?
The truth is 99% of them would put the wardrobe up against the bedroom door and hide under the bed. No one knows how they would react put in these situations until we end up in them, talk is cheap.
What the motives of Hussain and Atherton were I don’t know, but I have to say that I fully agree with Fraser’s view that the right outcome was reached.

The hardest job in world cricket

I was surprised to hear today that Duncan Fletcher has been named as India coach on a 2 year contract.

With India the number 1 test team and ODI world champions, it would seem like the dream job. But I’m not so sure and think he could be on a hiding to nothing here, this job looks full of pitfalls to me, I can already hear Geoffrey Boycott sniggering at the thought of Fletcher falling on his face here.

Despite all these misgivings, ultimately this was an offer he could never have turned down. It will probably be his last high profile job offer in cricket, and by the end of it I would imagine no one will touch him with a barge poll.

In the test arena Fletcher is going to have to oversee the end of the careers of Rahul Dravid, VVS Laxman and probably Sachin – assuming he doesn’t go on for another 20 years.

Replacing Dravid and Laxman could take up the bulk of his 2 years. Also if he handles the Sachin issue badly, then he will obviously be out on his ear. When the time comes for Sachin, he has to be allowed to go in his own way.

It will also be interesting to see how he handles the lack of Indian seam bowlers, he is famously known for not wanting to know any bowlers in English county cricket who couldn’t bowl between 85 and 90 mph. Will he have to break his principles there?

I can see this job being the ultimate test of Fletcher’s man management skills – not only with the senior players, but the press.

In England he struggled with the press and he always struck me as a man who didn’t have much in the way of man mangement skills, but in fairness to him I have listened to Nasser Hussain and Michael Vaughan a lot and they both speak very highly of him.

On the whole Fletcher did a good job with England, but it will be interesting to see if the Indian players buy into his ways. The BCCI know that this is going to be a transitional period for Indian cricket and there is a cynical part of me that thinks they may well have been looking for a potential fall guy.

Good luck Dunc, I think you’re going to need it.