Thursday 29 January 2009

Carve your name with pride

At my first club, you declared your availability by writing your name on a clipboard hung outside the dressing room window on a piece of string on mondays and tuesdays. Selection was on a wednesday, and the first, second and third XIs were posted on the other side of the clipboard on a thursday. Well come on... need I say that this was pre-internet, back in the days when the Six Million Dollar Man was a vision of the future.

As little under 13s, the biggest dare in our world was to run up to the board after nets on a monday night and boldly enter our monikers alongside those of the seniors. We knew of course that there was no chance of our names appearing on a thursday, but it was de rigeur to turn up and have a look. There was always the smallest pang in the heart when you read the list.

Now Lalit Modi has dangled his own little clipboard from the window and the men of England have run up to it and signed their names. In a neat inversion, the chancers here are the old guys. Goughy's on there, and he's no doubt written 'still brilliant at yorkers' next to his name. Dominic Cork's is there too, and he's just been on the radio, referring to himself in the third person ('you know Dominic Cork will give you one hundred per cent') and estimating his chance at making the cut as 'one in three thousand' (I'm no mathematician, Dom, but it must be better than that...)

If Goughy or Corky get a gig, it will be a pleasant surprise for them, but they've not invested any emotion or reputation in the process. Others will find the experience of not making the cut for the auction somewhat more painful. The names of IR Bell and SJ Harmison loom large.

Bruised egos aside, the beautiful brutality of the IPL selection system (here is true democracy in action, money and all) may shine an uncomfortable light on England's selectors. Napier and Mascarenhas are already there; Wright, Bopara, Shah and Patel, lukewarm picks for England, might appeal more to hard-nosed franchises. And supposing an old lag like Shane Warne fancies Goughy's guile over Harmison's sudden interest in playing overseas. 

It would be a good thing if England's thinking is influenced by the IPL. The ECB might not want to admit it, but it's the real proving ground. There will be plenty of pangs in plenty of hearts soon enough. I feel your pain, my friends.


Damith S. said...

Dont know bout you , but someone needs to give you a writing contract and soon.

Love the old school boy analogy to the IPL.

The first time I went for try outs we were informed that the teams will be posted on the sports masters door.

I had done ok I thought so was relatively certain of at least a 3rd XI spot. I wasnt on that team.

Wasnt on the 2nd XI either. By some serious mistake my name was under the first XI.

It was rather dramatic and this post made me remember that !

The Old Batsman said...

Great story! There's a whole post in finding your name on the teamsheet (or not)... It's a universal feeling, whether you're in the school team or the test team, I'm sure.