The Briefing takes a tongue-in-cheek look at the month gone by
Do you remember what cricket was like? The smell of fresh-mown leather, the sound of willow hitting stumps, fast bowlers delivering devastating googlies, batsmen shining their bats vigorously on their groins. That was the basic gist, right? It's been a while.
The route forward
As cricket plots its short-term future, several proposals for how the game can be made viable in the time of coronavirus have been put forward. Many, including the ICC's cricket committee, have recommended not using saliva to shine balls, with some suggesting an artificial substance should be allowed for that purpose. The West Indies tour of England could go ahead in some form, though there will not be any spectators in attendance, though it is possible Dominic Cummings is due another eye test by then.
What else could change? Socially distant bum pats? Close fielders unnerving batsmen with fake coughs, instead of sledges? Spraying hand sanitiser instead of champagne at trophy presentations?
And if there are no fans in the stands for the foreseeable future, can it really be a legitimate India v Australia Test series without thousands yelling "Kohli is a w***er" at the SCG? Plus, just who will be around for Ben Stokes to call a "f**king four-eyed t**t"? What kind of future is that?
Shane Warne has no problems with Steve Waugh
As there has been very little cricket actually played in the past month, we've been trawling social media for theatrics, but one place you will absolutely not find any drama is Warne's Twitter feed. Just read this tweet about Steve Waugh, in which Warne insists he's "said 1000 times I do not hate S Waugh at all" before two sentences later going on to say "Steve was easily the most selfish cricketer that I ever played with." Obviously, there can be no resentment in this relationship. Even though Warne tweeted twice more last month throwing shade at Waugh - specifically about his lopsided run-out record - the man has just spoken out in the clearest terms. Some of his best friends are Steve Waugh. Let it go. It's nothing. Guys!
Rising to the challenge
Wimpy cricketers may all be holed up at home, but the game's true heroes picked up their briefcases, sucked in their paunches, buttoned up their suits, and got stuck in to the vitally important task of governing the game. A big ICC directors' meeting was held last week, and with the game in such peril, what better time for cricket's thought leaders to show real leadership? What exactly does a road map for international cricket starting up again look like? Can biosecure environments actually make tours possible? And what can we do about this hugely anticipated T20 World Cup, which is supposed to start in less than five months? These are all major challenges requiring urgent address. But instead of discussing any of this in depth, the directors just talked at length about an information breach, presumably to the press, and deferred the real meeting to June 10.
Further adventures in administrative boldness
Sri Lanka Cricket, meanwhile, insisted forcefully that Colombo needed a huge new 40,000-capacity stadium in order to host future ICC tournaments, for which Sri Lanka had not yet won hosting rights, making a show of inaugurating the project alongside a government minister. Less than a week later, when it was clear public opinion was against the project, the government rowed back on their commitment to providing land for the stadium, and SLC immediately switched to pretending it found the whole idea ludicrous to begin with. "What fifth stadium? What's wrong with the four we have? And in the middle of a pandemic? Whose dumb idea was this?"
Cricket Australia fam
As one of the wealthiest cricket boards on the planet, Cricket Australia is better placed than most to weather the financial storm that the pandemic has wrought. Which is why, in these harrowing times, the board has committed to stick fearlessly by its executives, making an inspiring commitment to pay them 80% of their salaries while the board weathers this challenge. Almost everyone else at the board, meanwhile, gets knocked down to 20% of their previous pay, and now possibly faces redundancy.
Next month on The Briefing:
- "This is what I've been saying the entire bloody time!" Cameron Bancroft reacts to proposals that foreign substances should be used for ball management.
- Sri Lanka Cricket revisits the new stadium project. Unless the government doesn't want to. They don't? Oh… okay… I mean… yeah, it's a waste of money. Obviously. Always said that.
- Warne's non-hate for Waugh continues: "Look, I absolutely do not hold a grudge. I just think it's funny that for that Barbados Test in 1999..."
More Briefings here