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Authors: Frances Edmonds

Cricket XXXX Cricket

BOOK: Cricket XXXX Cricket
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FRANCES EDMONDS

CRICKET
XXXX
CRICKET

For my mother, Patricia

Contents

Acknowledgements

Glossary

Preface 2015

Preface

1 The ex-Prime Minister’s trousers

2 The Melbourne Cup

3 G’day from WA

4 Brisbane: some cricket, at last

5 Perth via Newcastle

6 The Big Sleep and then Adelaide

7 Canberra and Melbourne

8 Perth – the Benson and Hedges Challenge

9 The great Australian ginger-nut debacle

10 The America’s Cup

11 The Grand Slam

12 Pillow talk

Epilogue

Acknowledgements

IN AUSTRALIA

Carol Bennetto – William Heinemann

Sandy Grant – MD, William Heinemann

Eileen ‘Red’ Bond

David Michael – Bond Corporation, Australia

Jane Adams – News Corporation Ltd

Mark Hopkinson – Schroder’s Australia Ltd

Carol Aamodt – Hyatt Hotel, Sydney

Rod and Fran Lugton – William Heinemann

Queensland and Torres Strait Islander Consultative Committee (QUATSICC)

Robert Mayne et al.

Thomas Hardy & Sons Pty Ltd

Andrew ‘Spud’ Spedding (and
White Crusader)
– shore manager of the British challenge for the America’s Cup, Fremantle

Channel 10’s
Good Morning Australia
Team, |Sydney

Brendan and Pat Redden, Melbourne

Hughie and Trish Wallace-Smith, Melbourne

Bollinger Champagne

Ansett Airlines

 

IN ENGLAND

Mark Lucas and Virginia Allan – Fraser & Dunlop Scripts Tom Clarke – Sports Editor,
The Times

Castlemaine XXXX – Allied Lyons

Johnnie Walker Whisky and Hine Cognac

Margot Richardson – Kingswood Press

Rachel Ward Lilley – Kingswood Press

Derek Wyatt – Kingswood Press

Bill Bell – Copy-editor

Kate Gay – British Airways

Francis de Souza – British Airways

David Hooper – Biddle & Co Adrian Murrell – All Sport

 

AND ESPECIALLY

Philippe-Henri Edmonds – whose sleeping patterns ensure that there are enough hours in the day.

Glossary

Although I have made every effort to write this diary in English, my trusty copy-editor has pointed out various instances of linguistic interference. This is no doubt due to a protracted period of exposure to the local Australian patois, ‘Stryne’.

Here, in non-alphabetical order, are a few of the most common colloquial expressions assimilated:

 

Stubbies

Small receptacles for beer or lager

Tinnies

Large receptacles for beer or lager

Eskies

Large receptacles for stubbies and tinnies

Akubra

Type of hat worn by a Crocodile Dundee

Crocodile Dundee

Type of man who wears an Akubra hat

Scam

Fraud

Banana benders

Queenslanders

Larrikin Yobbo

Ratted Inebriated

To chunder

To perform a ‘pavement pizza’, a ‘Technicolor yawn’: to be sick

Vegemite

Essential element of Australian staple diet: a vegetable extract-based version of Marmite

Funnelweb spider

One of Australia’s most dangerous Arachnida

Preface 2015

Consider those twin imposters, triumph and disaster, and ask yourself in all honesty who has ever truly managed to treat them both the same? As chronicled in my first diary,
Another Bloody Tour
, the England cricket team’s tour of the West Indies in 1986 was an unmitigated disaster. Confronted by an all-conquering West Indian team at the height of its pomp, an England team riven by cliques, fifth columnists and self-absorbed superstars disintegrated and kept on disintegrating until it almost reached the realms of particle physics. From rock-bottom, this disaffected group somehow managed to keep on excavating and to burrow themselves down to hitherto undiscovered depths. It was an ugly phenomenon to observe but the richest of seams to mine for a woman covering the shambolic sequence of events.

So what were the agencies at play? In the first instance, until the 1986 West Indies tour, media coverage of overseas tours had been confined to the relatively avuncular care of dedicated cricket correspondents. No matter how seismically significant the upheavals and shenanigans taking place off the field, such distractions were resolutely ignored as no concern of theirs. The 1986 tour, however, witnessed a sea change in this hitherto cosy convention. Driven by international media baron wars and the real-time immediacy required by new technology, a very different pack of predatory pressmen was on the prowl. Drawn mainly from the shock-horror school of tabloid journalism, news correspondents uninhibited by the
omertà
of long-term personal relationships with members of the England team were parachuted in and air-lifted out of the tour with a single, simple objective: to dig the dirt . . . and of that, there was plenty!

Humiliated by the media mauling meted out the previous year, the England touring team to Australia in 1987 was still understandably paranoid and prickly about the press. Added to that, whatever the state of the opposition and whatever the circumstances, an Ashes series against Australia in Australia is always a tough tour. In the heyday of cricket-playing public schools, Englishmen imbibed the Corinthian adage: ‘It doesn’t matter whether you win or lose; it’s how you play the game.’ Aussie cricketers, it seems, were never taught that lesson, not even Aussie cricketers who went to school. Aussie cricketers are hard-wired to succeed and, when it comes to Poms touring God’s Own Country, they are teeth-grittingly determined to win at all costs.

Against this decidedly unpromising backcloth,
Cricket XXXX Cricket
is a tale of unmitigated triumph. From the sloughs of their Caribbean despond, a media-excoriated team of England cricketers managed to pull themselves up by their bootstraps and turn their fortunes around. Not only did they retain the Ashes in Australia and win the Benson & Hedges Challenge and the Benson & Hedges World Series Cup, but they also regained their self-respect, their touring team spirit and their long-lost
joie de vivre.
It is the stuff of MBA courses delivered in business schools all across the world. What creates a winning team? What are the hallmarks of great leadership? What, in a nutshell, is the essence of success? In
Cricket XXXX Cricket
, I assure you, you will find the answers to none of these questions.

There are any number of self-appointed leadership ‘gurus’ (for ‘gurus,’ read people too stupid to spell the word ‘charlatan’) who will claim to teach you the secrets of success. They will invoke everything – vision, charisma, empathy, focus, resilience – everything except the key component: luck. Napoleon’s preference for ‘lucky’ generals to run his military campaigns is well attested, but Lady Luck is rarely given her full due in the weighty tomes devoted to sporting, business and political success. For the England cricket team, it was in the first instance luck that turned a bunch of bickering losers into a motivated, focused and highly galvanised team: the luck to be playing against an Australian team in a period of transition after the retirement of some legends of the game. And yet luck, as the Roman philosopher Seneca once observed, is when preparation meets opportunity and this England squad was indeed prepared, both mentally and physically, for the rigours of this Australian tour. ‘The blow that doesn’t break you, makes you,’ so the old Spanish saying goes, and this team’s mettle had been tested and tempered in the heat of the previous year’s Caribbean cricket cauldron. Their individual and collegiate discipline paid swift dividends in terms of success at home and that success in turn, with its attendant bonhomie and team spirit, generated further success overseas. It was a joy to witness the energy and ebullience of a team of men intent on turning their fortunes around.

Despite the successes outlined in
Cricket XXXX Cricket
, re-reading a diary that I wrote almost thirty years ago has been an unexpectedly disturbing experience. In terms of tragedy, two of the cricketers mentioned in this account, both friends and both terrific men, have subsequently committed suicide. This is not the place to dissect the reasons why one larger than life, loveable character and another quite brilliant scholar and writer should have been moved to take their own lives. Suffice it to say that one tragedy served to demonstrate the depression that many people, especially men, experience when they can no longer exercise the profession they love and no longer feel the warmth and fellowship of a once all-embracing, all-consuming team; the other showed the devastation wrought in the lives of those tortured, usually highly sensitive individuals who cannot or dare not come to terms with their own sexuality. The desire to feel relevant professionally and the need to be authentic personally are fundamental to our wellness and wellbeing. These are lessons that hold true whatever the area of endeavour but in sport, where professional lives are short and macho culture is so deeply embedded, the distress and dilemmas encountered are even more acute and traumatic.

In terms of sociological developments, on this tour we saw in embryonic form the burgeoning phenomenon of the celebrity superstar player, a phenomenon which has gradually morphed into its now far more toxic iteration; the unchecked super-ego. Of course, this is not a phenomenon confined exclusively to sport. Daily we witness protagonists in all areas of endeavour, from Oscar Pistorius to Dominique Strauss-Kahn to Fred ‘The Shred’ Goodwin, who share those quintessentially alpha-male characteristics historically required to reach the highest echelons and whose super-ego excesses are allowed to go unchallenged until either they self-destruct or, worse still, destroy the team, the business or the people around them. Cricket has always fielded its fair share of super-egos and there can be no doubt that, judiciously handled, these characters are game-changers. However, the vast amounts of sponsorship and appearance money that now transforms talented cricketers into multi-million pound ‘brands’ seems increasingly to challenge those individuals’ primary loyalty to the team. Furthermore, the impact of the massive influx of money for England cricketers generally combined with the concomitant overload of cricketing fixtures nowadays and a new breed of ‘Pick ’n’ Mix’ England cricketers appears to be emerging. There was a time when any cricketer would metaphorically kill for the honour of a wearing an England blazer. Today’s players, however, seem increasingly inclined to leave overseas tours and pop home for any number of personal and domestic reasons. Those Corinthian spirits motivated by the ribbon’d coat, let alone nothing more tangible than the captain’s encouraging hand, seem to belong to an ever dwindling band.

Allied to the increased abundance of spondulicks now splashing around for any England cricketer, there is one further development that has made me revisit the arguments I so vigorously deployed thirty years ago. In the eighties, due to the relatively modest incomes of the majority of professional cricketers, the number of WAGs on tour was minimal and manageable and I truly believed that such a numerically restricted WAG element not only did nothing to disrupt the harmony of the team but positively reinforced it. Nowadays, tours have become logistical nightmares for management as significant others (in some cases even wives) plus an attendant phalanx of babies, nannies, chief cooks, bottle washers, Old Uncle Tom Cobleys and all etc pile on to the touring cricketing juggernaut. It is a painful dilemma, especially given today’s non-stop cricketing schedule, but it perhaps now time to determine whether the intrusion of entire young families with their inevitable disruption is a welcome adjunct or a dangerous distraction to any professional touring team.

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