Wednesday, 23 November 2011

Winter blues

It's been 81 long, cricketless days since I last donned my whites and took to the field of battle. It's getting me down. It's very unfair of the Sun to waste 6 months favouring the Southern hemispere - firstly because there's less landmass down there, and secondly because the populations of what land there is only go and squander it all by organising a criminally truncated 2-Test series between two of the great teams* in cricket.

Anyway, you'll have noticed there hasn't been any new posts here for a little while, and that's because a) there's very nearly nothing going on in my own cricket career, and b) commenting on what cricket there is currently taking place around the World seems a little silly, in view of the many excellent professional and amateur cricket writers you could have been reading instead of wading through my ramblings.

Thursday, 10 November 2011

What's wrong with playing on?

Reading the paper yesterday, a familiar sight confronted me - the cheeky grin, the huge hands, the massive forearms that speak of prodigious power. The green shirt was unfamiliar, but it was unmistakably the one and only SK Warne, coming out of retirement for another turn in the spotlight.

There seems to be a consensus that great sportsmen should choose to retire at the top and never come back, for fear that they may sully their legacy. I think this is poppycock, especially in the case of a World-class leg-spinner.

Sure, it holds true for people whose sport involves a certain amount of risk such as boxers and racing drivers, and certainly Jackie Stewart was right to stop when he did and not go back, despite having a few years left in him, but in the case of Michael Schumacher, 7 times a champion and now pootling around in an uncompetitive Mercedes, the sport is reasonably safe now, Schumacher seems to have a smile on his face and Mercedes seem happy, so I don't understand those who think he should have stayed with his pipe and slippers. F1 is better for having him back.

Why shouldn't sportsmen carry on in the sport they love? As long as they remain in decent physical shape, quality spinners don't get worse with age, and many get better. CV Grimmett was dropped from Tests on the grounds of age several years before he stopped playing, and by all accounts he was bowling better than ever in that period. Warne's last three or four years in Test cricket were his best, not just in his results but in the holistic quality of his bowling, taking wickets with the intelligence that comes from experience, allied to the incredible spin he always had. You don't lose that level of skill.

Further to that, T20 is a perfect format for a wily old spinner - not too arduous, and rewarding accuracy and subtlety - both key aspects of what made Warne's latter years so successful. Add to that that Warne gets to play at the MCG in front of his beloved Victorian faithful, and everyone's a winner.