Tuesday, 28 May 2013

Paid Afternoons

There have been some exciting events afoot at Wasted Afternoons HQ of late. The truly excellent people at the Guardian had me write this first piece for them. It's not cricket-related, but watch this space.

This is all a huge thrill for your humble correspondent; one who has spent many years devouring The Guardian's cricket coverage. 

Three cheers to them all. 

Monday, 20 May 2013

A brief history of David Warner Tweets

So you've all read the twitter exchange between David Warner and Malcolm Conn. You've read the tweets about the tweets, the interview about the tweets, the tweets about the interview about the tweets and the articles about the tweets about the interview about the tweets. The key point I took away from the whole saga was that Dave Warner calls people "champ" way too often. Only shit blokes do that, Dave. Are you a shit bloke?

If you're like me, none of it really came as any surprise because David Warner has been Australian cricket's premier tweeter for the majority of the past year. If there were ICC rankings for tweeting, David Warner would finally be world class at something. His account is a completely unguarded look into the shallow recesses of his mind, one "bahahaha" and "lol" at a time.

In this spirit, I present to you my favourite Warner tweets of the last six months. Over to you, Dave:

One of my favourite parts pf checking in on the Dave Warner twitter world is his willingness to put himself out there with an unsolicited tweet to a celeb. They're usually misspelled and rarely get a reply, which makes them all the more brilliant.

If I have learnt anything from Twitter (and I doubt I have learnt very much at all), it's that Dave Warner hates two things intensely; haters and whingers.  Please note, this ceases to apply when Dave Warner wants to whinge about something, like Indian cricketers or News Ltd journalists not pulling out their pom poms and joining the IPL cheer squad.

Dave Warner tweets some genuinely awesome photos like this one of Philthy Hughes and everyone's embarrassing little brother, Steve Smith. This is perhaps his greatest contribution to Australian cricket so far.

IPL shill and IPL star agree on merits of IPL in cricket news shocker! I think we all know the answer to Dave's "common phrase" conundrum.

There is a 97% chance that if Dave Warner took a woman on a dinner date, it would to be a restaurant that specialised in, or at least offered Parma's. The "so yummy" addendum had me worried he was heading into Warnie/13 year-old girl voice territory. He's recovered pretty well since, obviously.

Despite its significant downsides, social media has also spawned on of the great behavioural trends of the 21st century; the Humblebrag. This is when a bragger disguises a braggy statement under a cloak of very unconvincing self-depreciation. Old mate Davey gives it his best shot below. Lazy indeed.

This is what Twitter is all about. If I was sitting on a bus next to Agit Agarker (unlikely as that may be) I don't think I'd be able to resist taking a quick Agit-selfie. All I need is audio transcripts of their conversations. What do Agit and Dave natter away about on the bus? How much they hate Indian cricket fans? Making ducks? Quantum physics?

Ooh, awkward. Only a day after saying Ajit Agarker is his "everyday" bus buddy, Dave's gone skulking off to the shoulder of Morne Morkel, literally. Is that a blanket over Morne's shoulder? Surely he's not allowing Davey to sleep on his shoulder? There is a small list of international batsmen who I would allow to sleep on my shoulder on a bus ride and I'm sorry Dave, but you don't make the cut. Go and buy one of the hideous neck pillows like all the other plebs.

It's the thought that counts.

Dave Warner's replies to fans and random punters are actually pretty brilliant. He's unflinchingly honest and unguarded in his responses which is pretty rare and almost admirable. Also, if you are a reality TV show producer and don't turn the scenario below into a hit show, I'm afraid you are doing an awful job. Just even thinking of Dave Warner and 40 Japanese tourists together makes me happy. Get this to happen, please.

Cool story bro. Heading dangerously close to Warnie territory again here. He's about two tweets away from asking the world which rom-com he should watch tonight. LOL.

Hall of fame tweet. When I saw that ridiculously dumb Hugh Jackman robot movie "Real Steel", I wondered who the target market was. 12 year old boys? Head trauma victims? I must admit that "Australian opening batsmen" didn't cross my mind. As always with a "Dave tweets at celebs" entry, it received no reply. Genius.

It's also fair to say that if you didn't swing at every second ball of a Test match like a minor league baseballer, a bit of "luck" might start coming your way. Positive spin: this tells us that Dave Warner is so blindly confident in his own ability that he genuinely believes that bad luck is his only hindrance to success. 

Firstly Dave, it's "lots". Secondly, that is the least convincing lie you have ever told. I'm just imagining an Indian fan running up to Dave, the great man shaping to sign an autograph or pose for a photo, before the breathless kid says, "oh no Mr Warner, I don't want any of that, I am just desperate to find out when your app will be released!"

Virender, no-one wants to watch Dave Warner pp, now or ever. Also the last two words of your tweet are creepy, mate.

Dave Warner in a moment of contemplation: "can't believe LC didn't get back to me. I'm such a big fan of The Hills, I can't see why she wouldn't."

Nobody likes a brown nose, Dave.

I'm pretty sure David Warner only started a twitter account so that he could abuse Indian cricket fans. This is also the pot calling the kettle black if ever I have seen it. Let's be honest Dave, English is probably Sunit's second language, at a minimum. What's your excuse?

Haters and whingers feeling the Warner wrath again. Another day, another hater put to the sword.

I wanna like you Dave, you just won't let me. 

How to curry sympathy from vitriolic fans about your poor performance in India: 101.

"Warner, who has previously stated his aspirations for the Test captaincy..."

The brevity of Hemingway coupled with the practicality of a man who has realised that the time is different in other countries. Seriously, did you even know that? Blew my mind the first time I went overseas.

The fact that Davey and Deano appear to be mates is about as surprising as Mitchell Johnson legside wide.

Cool. Story. Bro. 

Just exceptional stupidity. Outstanding. This is why I can't get enough of our mate Davey on twitter He delivers brilliance like this on a regular basis. Best show in town.

This got no response. Not the first or last time Davey will be burnt by Dale Steyn. He should have just replied. "I will mentally and physically annihilate you for your entire career. LOL" That would have been ace. 

Yeah, let's have a pity party for the guy earning a couple of million a year to play cricket. Would have been better to play in the 70s Dave, you got heaps of time off. I mean, you had to spend it selling insurance or being a brickie's labourer, but it really took your mind off cricket for once.

Genuine self-depreciation. Good form. More of this from our cricketers, please.

Breaking News: Dave Warner picks up newspaper from the wrong end.

I actually like this. It shows that Dave Warner is just as much of a geeky cricket loser as the rest of us when he gets a new bat. I mean, the name "Kaboom" is kind of filth, but I'll let that slide in this instance.

Another good thing about Twitter is that when sports people get on, it's the first time in their life that the majority of people they are surrounded by are more likely to tell them that they're completely shit than tell them they're the greatest person in the world. Most of those people are certifiable nutcases, for sure, but it probably provides a small dose of perspective every now and then.

Oh, don't tease us. Has anyone been to his site? I refused to bow to this shameless click-bait. I imagine it's just pictures of sports cars and chicks in bikinis with a few YouTube clips of Davey hitting big sixes?

Gotta be looking your best for when you pick up the "Best strike rate in international cricket for a player averaging less than 35" award. I maintain that Dave Warner would become a far more sympathetic public figure if he turned up to functions like this wearing one of those tuxedo t-shirts.

This is actually quite sweet. I picture Dave Warner as a guy who would pull up his car by a park if there was a game of kids cricket going on. He'd never relinquish the bat, but the kids would love it.

There is a money-bag shaped hole in the heart of every IPL cricketer now that Tony has gone to the great memorabilia factory in the sky. 

You're going to eat Michael Clarke? I thought only Mark Cosgrove made threats like that.

Air hockey table and Dave Warner "Powerhouse" limited edition print just outside the frame of this shot.

Outstanding work. Social media users who talk about what they just cooked need to be called out, even if they are Australia's best ODI bowler.

Can we make sure Dave Warner is never put in any position of responsibility in the sports world? I mean, anything above what he chooses to eat for lunch needs to be outsourced to someone responsible.

Oh you!

"Have a cry" is the ultimate comeback. It should be used in the Presidential debate more often.

I guess if anything is to come out of the Warner v Craddock/Conn saga, it is that CA will force Dave Warner to be more professional and polished in his use of social media, just like they are. Geniuses, one and all.

Tuesday, 14 May 2013

The Cricket Documentaries that NEED to be made - Part 1

As anyone with access to cable TV and a passing interest in sports would know, in the past few years ESPN have ushered in a golden era of sports documentary making with their '30 for 30' series of high quality sports films.

As well as being hugely entertaining, the '30 for 30' series has established a variety of new sports doc paradigms which I will now list in no particular order:

  1. It is now no longer acceptable to just point a camera at famous sports people and call yourself a documentary film maker. Some of these documentaries feature stunning production techniques, meticulous research and art direction that wouldn't be out of place on a medium budget Hollywood film. ESPN are pretty loaded, I suppose. For making these documentaries, I forgive them for Steven A Smith and those NFL Draft Panels that are just six Stephen Colbert lookalikes droning on about the 247th pick from Tallahassee State Technical College as though he's a Governor of the Fed.
  2. ESPN managed to spawn a phenomenon I am calling "the Girlfriend Index". My girlfriend has no particularly keen interest in sports, yet she became so emotionally absorbed in 'Once Brothers', 'The best that never was' and 'The Two Escobars' that she still talks about them a year later. These are now the yardstick against which all other sports TV is measured for her. This is a good and bad thing; good because she is now more open to sit watching a sports program, which keeps us away from Bunnings Warehouse for two hours, though bad in that she is less likely to find watching 'Inside Cricket' an enjoyable experience by comparison, even on a purely ironic level like myself.
  3. Sports documentaries now no longer have to be about he biggest stars and the most iconic (read: overdone) moments in sports. They can be about failed franchises of the past, one-hit wonders and obscure sports people who only flirted with fame. This is a good thing. This is what makes many of them so engaging. It's an antidote to the constant stream of regurgitation and raking over familiar ground that are generally the hallmarks of sports media.
So bearing all this in mind and given that this is a cricket blog, I think it is high time we campaign for some cricketing 30 for 30's. When I say that, obviously ESPN doesn't necessarily have to make them. Someone else can if they want. There are just so many great cricket stories that haven't really been told properly. I'm talking 'Fire in Babylon' quality docos too, not half hour profiles on famous players of the past.

First, I will exclude some for the reasons I outline in point 3 above: 

  • World Series: we've been there so many times and if you suggest this one and then also tell me you haven't read Gideon Haigh's 'The Cricket War', I will be Glenn McGrath and you will be Ramnaresh Sarwan. EXCEPTION: if it was a documentary purely about the 'Country Cup' games, I would be on board. That would be such a niche documentary. Other than me, about fifteen people would watch it but it would give Ian Redpath some airtime, which I'm obviously all for.
  • Bodyline: I think I've actually seen more of the Bodyline footage of Bradman ducking Larwood 'bumpers' than I have of any of the rest of his career. It's an endlessly fascinating topic but just read the 8000 books on it or watch the documentaries that already exist. It's such a cartoonish 'good vs evil' narrative that somehow I've become immune to its appeal. Familiarity breeds contempt.
  • Steve Waugh's Ashes hundred in Sydney: I mean, Ray Martin probably owns the rights anyway and Waugh himself released AN ENTIRE BOOK about it. Enough.
  • The Don: I'm sorry if Roland Perry is reading this, but we don't need any more books or documentaries about Don Bradman. Actually that's not true; some better quality ones would be nice because most of them are rubbish. But when it comes to the Don, unless there is some secret vault of recordings on which every key player in his career has recorded their actual thoughts about him, we've heard it, read it and seen it before.
  • Match-fixing: to be clear, I'm not saying 'don't make a documentary on match fixing', I just think it would need to be very specific and stick to one single element, whether it be Cronje, Aamer/Butt/Asif spot-fixing, or the 'John the Bookie' saga. It's a topic with so many tentacles reaching in so many directions I just don't know where to start.
So without further ado, here are some of my suggestions; feel free to add your own in the comments section (this is far from a definitive list) and we'll see whether we can all get a production credit for our work. I will have to make this a two or three part post because I'll never get anything done with my day if I keep going at this rate.

The Australian Rebel Tours to South Africa

Cast: Malcolm Fraser, Bob Hawke, Kim Hughes, Terry Alderman, Rodney Hogg, Ali Bacher, Bruce Francis, Omar Henry, Allan Donald, Kepler Wessels, Mike Procter, Barry Richards, Graeme Pollock.


Even excluding the other Rebel tours by England, Sri Lanka and the West Indies, the main difficulty in putting this documentary together would be trimming it down to two hours of material.

Politics, race, international relations, thwarted careers, the ability of sport to both divide and unite; this story is a documentary makers dream. It's riveting from both a political and sporting context, on a personal level and in a societal sense. Game footage clearly exists in abundance, nearly all of the key players are still alive and enough time has passed for a great many of them to feel comfortable to talk about the tours. 

Despite the disapproval of their Prime Minister and the threat of being ostracized by the game for a significant period, most of the Australian players involved still feel as though they did the right thing by the game and the people of South Africa. The games saw Omar Henry become South Africa's first non-white player since 1912 and the behind-the-scenes happenings were myriad and fascinating.

There are divisive characters (Bacher, Hughes, Francis), highly quotable public figures in Hawke and Fraser (the latter declined to let a plane carrying a Sprinkboks rugby tour refuel on Australian soil in 1981) and a host of lesser lights for whom the tours were the beginning and end of their representative careers.

One small but important point: as a 1980's one-day uniform fetishist, I can't say I'd be displeased for this number to be seen by a wider audience:

It's a no-brainer, this documentary just needs to be made. Note to any would-be producer who wants to take this project on: you need to devote at least 5 minutes of the finished film to Rod McCurdy's mullet.

Kim Hughes and Ali Bacher give it the thumbs up!

The 1981 Ashes Tour

No, I'm not talking about another yak-fest about "Botham's Ashes" and the hundred at Headingley, though it obviously would rate a mention. I'm talking about a warts-and-all look at Australia's disastrous Ashes campaign under Kim Hughes.

As anyone who read Christian Ryan's superb Kim Hughes biography 'Golden Boy' knows, things were more than a little NQR in the Australian camp on that tour. If they were all willing to open up about it, I'm sure it would be jaw-dropping. Greg Chappell opted out of the tour, the replacement captain was being seriously undermined by the few senior players he had at his disposal, then Lillee and Marsh placed bets on their own team losing at Headingley, which itself is probably deserving of a one hour special.

Speaking of the 'Cricketer of the Year' winners in the 1982 issue of Wisden following that Ashes series, editor John Woodcock said that Marsh's "delight that he had been included was good to hear of." No doubt it was of even more delight to Marsh at the time that his skipper did not make the list. They're all apparently chums again now, but if ever there was a doco about a tour debacle, this could be it. Honorable mention to the Bob Simpson-led team that ventured to the West Indies in 1978, which was also a farce of epic proportions. 

P.S. If someone ever makes a "this tour was a debacle" doco about Australia's 2013 tour of India and it has the word "homework" in the title, I will refuse to watch it.

The Death of Bob Woolmer

Excuse the ghoulishness of this suggestion,  but a certain amount of people have just completely forgotten about this event (it was only six years ago, too).

Woolmer, then the Pakistan coach, was found dead in his Jamaican hotel room on the 18th of March, 2007, only hours after Pakistan were surprisingly knocked out of the World Cup by Ireland.

Despite claims by the first pathologist to examine Woolmer that he had died of manual asphyxiation, later tests by other pathologists indicated that this was incorrect, with toxicology reports also concluding he had not been poisoned. An eventual inquest resulted in an open verdict and refused to rule out the strangulation theory.

Amongst all of this, former South African cricketer Clive Rice said he believed Woolmer had been murdered by an organised crime syndicate with links to sports betting. Taking even the most circumspect view, it is at the very least a story about a coach under so much pressure from a cricket-obsessed country that he died of a heart attack. It's a story that touches on difficult subjects for Pakistan, the spectre of gambling, and the high toll that the professional sports world can take on those within its orbit.

The First IPL Auction

On the 20th of February, 2008, the world of cricket entered uncharted territory upon the commencement of the the inaugural Indian Premier League T20 player auction. 

Fast forward six years and somehow the IPL have contrived to turn this event into a fairly beige affair in which several round tables of polo-shirted team officials wave miniature bats in place of auction paddles and earnestly scan the listings for available talent. As a spectacle, it is unquestionably inferior to the hyped-up draft day productions of the major US sports. Maybe even charmingly so, if such an adjective can be applied to an IPL event.

Yet the very first one was absolute mayhem. I'd long thought that it took place behind closed doors which afforded it a dodgy, clandestine air, but there is actually some footage up online still. It was attended by politicians, corporate heavy-weights, Bollywood actors, that bloke with the dodgy wig and, of course, the franchise owners who ended up footing the considerable bill at the end of the day. 

No-one can say they knew exactly what to expect, but amid the ego-driven bidding frenzy, the Chennai Superkings made M.S. Dhoni $1.5 million richer in an instant and Andrew Symonds relieved the Deccan Chargers of $1.35 million.

In the chaos, genuine stars went unsold and aging veterans like Sanath Jayasuria threatened to pass the million mark. David Hussey commanded $625,000, his more accomplished brother Mike only $250,000. More than anything, it put a publicly available dollar figure on the heads of many of the game's stars and for some this was not happy reading. Egos were doubtlessly battered as modest Indian trundlers became overnight millionaires at the expense of established international stars who were left to feed on the remaining crumbs.

But the auction itself, the money that was spent, the characters involved, it really was something. But would anyone involved be prepared to admit to any hubris or folly? 


Footnote: I intend on adding to this list but feel free to have a crack in the comments section. 

Thursday, 2 May 2013

How Cricketers used to find out about the arrival of their children - Part 2

I'm no expert on child birth, but I can't imagine there would be anything more thrilling than receiving a photo of your partner having champagne poured on his head by Dean Jones in the minutes following an excruciating labour. Bonus points for Billy McDermott's shiner and the look of horror on Simon O'Donnell's face as he realizes that his iron-free chino's have been destroyed.

Compared to AB, Heals is an absolute softy, though. The only thing greater than the photo is the caption; "the wonders of modern technology" indeed.