It's the month after the World Cup ended and, all over the world, coaches are being thrown out like mouldy, month-old takeaways. Mickey Arthur split with Pakistan, Ottis Gibson with South Africa, Steve Rhodes with Bangladesh, while Chandika Hathurusingha wishes SLC had straight up fired him, instead of putting him through an even more intense ordeal (more on that later).
The biggest indignity of all, though, came out of India, where Ravi Shastri was asked to interview for his own rightful job like some kind of coaching pleb. Who the hell do they think they are? Thankfully, the committee to appoint the coach at least had the sense to make the whole process seem completely like a sham that was always going to end with Shastri remaining in the job.
The ballad of Hathu
Meanwhile, in the Wild West of cricket (i.e. Sri Lanka), the sports minister and cricket board officials have publicly criticised Hathurusingha, but have been unable to untangle from him, because Hathurusingha appears to have an iron-clad contract. Where the story gets crazy is that although the board suspended Hathurusingha from working with the national team, he has insisted on remaining in Sri Lanka instead of returning to Sydney (where he lives with his family), because he doesn't want to give the board's lawyers any leeway to argue that he has voluntarily abandoned his post.
The summary, essentially, is that many of the very same board officials who pursued and hired Hathurusingha less than two years ago are being urged by the sports minister to sack him, citing a lavish salary, but have run into trouble because of the contract they themselves had negotiated, leading to what resembles a hostage situation in some ways.
Folks, bear with me here, but could it be that the SLC is inept? And call me a cynic, but is it possible a Sri Lankan politician is acting to the detriment of cricket as he pursues his own popularity? Let's keep a close eye on this situation in order to find answers to these as-yet unanswered burning questions.
Before Copernicus revolutionised astronomy in the Western world, it had been widely believed that the universe revolved around the Ashes. Although strains of that thinking may have persisted into the modern day, could it be possible that we are now getting an Ashes series that's finally worth the hype? Jofra Archer's rocket-fuelled arrival, England's 67 all out followed by an epic chase and Ben Stokes' all-time great innings have set the contest alight. Sure, it needs two more good Tests, and Archer may still require 400 further wickets in order to justify some comparisons with some of the greatest ever, but maybe the planets are coming into rare alignment for this rivalry. Or maybe Copernicus had no idea what he was talking about.
Show me a fan who says they have never made fun of Ishant Sharma, and I shall show you a liar. How we laughed at his long, fruitless spells. "Not bad luck - just bad," we said. "Worst cricketer to play 50 Tests," we giggled. Beyond the cricket, we ridiculed that Kermit-the-frog voice, that gangly physique, the terrible metalhead hair, the overwrought angry celebrations, and that Adam's apple that might be better described as an Adam's watermelon. But over the last 18 months, he is making the cricket world eat its words. He averaged 21.80 across 11 Tests in 2018, and took eight wickets - including a five-for - in his first Test outing this year. He'd go on to make a maiden Test fifty in the first innings of the next game. The only way he could rub it in further for all those years of abuse is if he were to go house by house and personally insult every fan back.
The too-nice guys?
Seven weeks on from the World Cup final, not a single member of the New Zealand squad has yet expressed serious annoyance at being World Cup runners-up despite having tied the final. In fact, they have started to express gratefulness at having been part of that game. There's a point at which this amount of sweetness become suspicious. What dark secrets are they covering up?
Next month on The Briefing:
- Video emerges of Kane Williamson shoving plastic straws directly into sea turtles' throats.
- Archer gets 400 wickets in two Tests. Suck it, Dale Steyn.
- SLC officials discover that if they sack Hathurusingha, the entire board is contractually obliged to wear their trousers on their heads like hats for a year. "How did we let that clause in there?" one of them asks the others. "Guys, are we maybe not very good at our jobs?"