Six, Drugs & How not to Bowl
So, here we go, the maiden entry into my blog, or as I will no doubt rename it my 'Collection of Rants'.
Those who know me will happily tell you how reserved and withdrawn I can be........ Nope I'm not buying that either, and I'm writing it!
I've coached in some amazing places around the world, and been extremely privileged to have coached my country for the ECB and also delivered for the MCC. This has been a fantastic journey in my life, one of which I plan to cover over a series of rants. Yes, I know what you're thinking, it could potentially ruffle a few feathers at HQ, but as KP pointed out, there's more going on behind the scenes than what you are made to believe.
In fact, sometimes my views / rants can be brutally honest, too brutal sometimes. But hey, I'd rather be as popular as George Osborne at a Paralympic meeting than to keep quiet to avoid offending someone who needs to be challenged or put in their place.
If you don't know me, it's nice to meet/write to you!
I'm going to begin with a rant....... fasten your seatbelts, get a beer from the fridge and open your mind to how I see the world that is cricket.
In summary, it's Nuts!
As you will no doubt know, it's Twenty20 World Cup year, it's on now! Sky Sports 2 most days. You can't miss it.
All the people I've spoken to leading up to the tournament have been raving about how exciting our young side is. Adil Rashid, David Willey et al heavily involved and making waves in the Big Bash, Willo signing for Yaaaarkshire was a great move for him, if I'm honest, I think he could have gone 2 years sooner, but he is a true Northampton boy, and like me, loyal to the Rose.
The inclusion of Jason Roy and Alex Hales at the top of the order, with Roooooooooooooooooooooot in at 3 is exciting, it's new! As a country, we've not had this excitement and anticipation since KP and Freddie broke onto the scene and literally destroyed anything that decided to rock up and send some leather down at them.
So why do I not feel the excitement that all the badgers and arm chair coaches are smearing in my face in spades!
I'll tell you, because I've just watched England play the West Indies.
Hopeless, clueless, pathetic, naive. Yes you can hear Boycott saying that very sentence. However, it's true. It's a fair reflection, an honest reflection. We were s**t.
I had the pleasure of witnessing the English meltdown with a 67 year old, middle class pensioner. Yep, the old man..... He will be appearing a lot in these blogs.
I've seen some interesting reactions over the 30 years of existing in this world from the old boy; however, this was genuinely the funniest...
Watching Topley setting a field for what turned out to be his last over, and disappear into the Mumbai night sky as his bowling figures were starting to look like Air Miles points, he simply stayed straight faced and reclined in his chair, very Jim Royle-esque, cleared his throat as he leant over to get the sky remote and gave the best critique of how he felt in one word.... 'W****r' then flicked over to a recorded episode of Countryfile. Priceless.
But that isn't my rant, oh no....
I recently read a tweet from an ex colleague of mine, who used to be the Chief Executive of a First Class County. Now, this man has had a lot of flak sent his way, from my view, he was extremely supportive to my role at the club and also the squad I managed. We have remained in contact, and has even helped me through an incredibly difficult time in my life. So I'd like to dedicate this first entry to him.
His tweet highlighted everything that is wrong with our beautiful, yet ugly game.
The use of drugs, performance enhancers, doping, call it what you will. It's disgusting.
I am and always have been clean. Even as a cricketer who never quite made it at the top level and as a coach, I'm still extremely conscious about what I can and can't take. You have to be careful.
We are given by the ECB a handbook, every season with in depth information about the Anti-doping programme. It's serious business.
Now the ECB has it's faults, lots in fact, however, I respect the ethics and anti doping departments work.
So if that’s the case in the ECB's case, what's the excuse for the West Indies? They have genuine World-beaters in their side, Darren Sammy, DJ Dwayne Bravo (for your own sanity don't YouTube him) and of course, CHG with his 3 pound 4 ounce thunder stick.
I love watching them play, well I did until I found out some disturbing information which makes me question how much of what I like watching is actually talent, flair and panache and what is the result of cheating.
I'm from the generation where growing up I pretended to charge in to bowl as Courtney Walsh and Curtley Ambrose as I watched them terrorise the world of cricket, Brian Lara hold record after record for run scoring. I used to hear stories of how good the West Indies were and how much they were feared in the 70's and 80's.
The golden years of Caribbean cricket.
The use of drugs and doping was unheard of then? It was cricket in its purest form.
Imagine my disgust when it's pointed out that an extremely talented Andre Russell has skipped/failed to attend THREE drugs tests in 12 months and yet he is still running in to bowl on my television screen?
What is that teaching the youth sections of cricket clubs around the world?
Is it ok to skip drugs tests? Are they optional? No they are bloody well not!
Why then has the West Indies Cricket Board not taken a stand against this? Is there more to this? Does the rabbit hole run deeper than just one player?
And where are the ICC on this? They have been very prompt to ban two Bangladesh bowlers for illegal actions on their 15 degree rule, yet the anti-doping regulations have taken a backseat?
I'm sorry but this is the sort of thing that makes me sick.
Why have you missed these Andre? Something to hide maybe? At least Shane Warne attended his drugs test before the Weight Loss pills excuse came out.
This is and can be construed as cheating, gaining an unfair advantage. If an English, Australian (convict), South African (Meat-Eater) or New Zealander (Ram-Rooter) had done this, would they be playing in the IPL, Big Bash, NatWest Blast, ICC T20 World Cup? No. The boards would throw the book at them. This epitomises exactly what is wrong with the WICB. It Stinks.
Mohammed Amir is another one I'd like to briefly comment on. Vastly talented, the world at his mercy, the next Wasim Akram, Shoaib Akhtar, Waqar Younis, Umar Gul. Yet still decides to fix a game for money. Quite simply, cheating.
He was found out and banned, but not for life like his two fellow associates, because he was young. 17, in fact. Yet he is now back on this international scene? This is wrong. He chose to cheat; he should be punished and banned indefinitely. Danish Kaneiria is another one who chose to cheat and also banned for life. 3 players all banned for lie, but not Amir? Is this telling our youngsters that it's ok to spot fix and accept bribes? Until the ICC changes this, it seems so.
So, two examples of cheating, two extremely talented cricketers and a whole generation of betrayed cricket fans.