There’s long been a curiously undocumented school of thought in the GAA which decrees that, if a team is taking a serious pounding, the obvious solution is to withdraw a corner forward. It matters not that they might be getting absolutely pummelled at centre field, nor that the half backs are thus under siege.
Amidst a crisis, the immediate reaction is to sacrifice the obvious fall guy. Sometimes, there doesn’t have to be a crisis afoot at all. Recently, the failure of a referee to properly apply the current rules probably inadvertently led to Meath corner forward Donal Lenihan being harshly substituted.
The lively Dunboyne attacker had been out of luck with his shooting on the day in question (against DCU) but managed to extricate himself from what was clearly a foul and split the posts with a magnificent shot. Only for the official to wrongly call play back and award a free. Cillian O’Sullivan duly tapped it over, but, had the five second advantage rule been applied as it should have, the alteration which followed probably wouldn’t have.
Elsewhere in the sporting world, specifically the English cricket setup, a shakeup was definitely required as the entirety of their winter in Australia lurched from one crisis to another, culminating in an unmitigated disaster. Following on from that, heads were always going to roll, but, what may appear the clear cut place to begin isn’t always the right one.
Regular readers of these offerings will know that yours truly has an especial fondness for some of the more colourful characters in sport. The list isn’t going to be rehashed again, but, suffice to say, Kevin Pietersen would be cricket’s representative thereon. Say what you like about the guy, his record as a batsman in all forms of the game speaks for itself.
England’s supposed score getters were admittedly appalling, during the recent Ashes series and what followed in the other formats as well, however, labouring on that side of things fails to recognise that their bowlers also came up well short in their duties, so allowing the likes of David Warner and Michael Clarke run amok.
As is always, pitifully, the case nowadays in top level sport, the coach, Andy Flower, was the first to see his services terminated with. Now, given that – akin to rugby – in cricket the team captain is considered next in seniority after the coach, surely logic would’ve dictated that skipper Alastair Cooke should have been next to fall on his sword.
But no, the often dysfunctional looking English Cricket Board (ECB) took the easy option, gave in to the clamour of the moaners and ditched Pietersen. Whilst it’s indisputable that the mercurial talent came laden with laborious quantities of baggage, his abrupt banishment serves only to highlight a calamitous failure in man management by Flower, Cooke and the ECB.
Cooke may, to some extent, be entitled to a degree of exoneration regarding interacting with Pietersen given his previous transgressions with other captains and coaches. Affording him such leeway, though, might allow for distraction from the fact that those in positions of power took the easy way out. Looking at it from a neutral perspective, no matter what way they might try to dress it up, English cricket teams in all formats will be much the poorer for their self inflicted inability to deploy the South African native at the crease.
For spectators, the viewing won’t be as good either. Pietersen in full flow was to his code what Tiger Woods and Rafael Nadal and Michael Van Gerwen are to theirs. Remove them, and golf, tennis or darts just wouldn’t hold the same appeal. What is worse about the cricket case is the sense that it may have been completely avoidable had pigheadedness not been at play.
In any team, sporting or otherwise, not all members are going to get along. Dealing with this situation – in other words management thereof – is a skill in itself. Something those in control of English cricket have been found to be incredibly weak at. Their teams are likely to be just that also, minus the ostracised batsman.