Archive for October, 2010

Come back and face me, you coward

Thursday, October 28th, 2010

So far, the trash-talking and shit-stirring ahead of the upcoming Ashes has been a bit disappointing.

Let’s just say the “war of words” has had a few false starts in the last couple of months, with England not really “putting their hand up” and coming to this particular party when it comes to dishing out and returning the verbals.

Back in June, Andrew Flintoff made a game attempt to kick things off. After observing the Aussies’ defeat by 3 wickets in their second Test against Pakistan, he opined that “Australia are not the force they used to be,” and that “England are now favourites” for the Ashes series which begins in November.

“Last time we lost 5-0 but this time it will be very different.”

And the response from down under? Nada. Nothing. A brave opening sally, but one that fell on stony ground.

Then Ricky Ponting woke up, remembered he was now the proud bearer of Steve Waugh’s banner of Mental Disintegration, and, deciding on no half measures, warned England that it was “entirely possible” that Australia would win 5-0… “They’ve got no one there who’s going to surprise us at all.”

While most of us laughed (a couple of us with nervous bravado while harbouring the nagging thought that shit, it is completely possible that England could indeed be on the receiving end of a 5-0 hammering), Jonathan Trott thoughtfully scratched his chin and offered the sage observation that perhaps it was a bit silly of Punter to be putting so much pressure on himself and his team.

For christ’s sake, Jonathan. Where is the bombast, the rage, the slighted pride, the “come and have a go if you think you’re hard enough” appetite for a bit of the old “you and me: outside”? Even Imran Farhat seemed to be entering into the spirit of the thing with more enthusiasm, levelling his own relish-laden chirp at Australia: “Personally I think they are going DOWN!” And he’s not even playing in this bloody competition.

Then fast bowling legend Dennis Lillee decided to give it a go in stirring up English ire by criticizing England’s bowlers, saying that even without Warne and McGrath, Australia has the better bowling attack. The only person who could be arsed to rise to this bait was Allan Lamb, and he and Lillee are mates so that doesn’t even really count.

So far, so underwhelming. Not even renowned spouter of gnomic bullshit John Buchanan could light a match under England’s bollocks with his targeting of Kevin Pietersen as England’s “weak link”, referring to KP’s recent slump in form.

KP disdainfully treated the comment with the little consideration it deserved, calling Buchanan “a nobody”.

“All he’s ever done is coach the best team in the history of cricket. Anyone could have done that.”

This is hardly trash-talking so much as an eminently reasonable observation. Like I’ve said before, Warne and McGrath’s Australia was one team that pretty much coached and captained itself.

Finally last night, in desperation, Cricket Australia beamed a giant image of Ponting and Michael Clarke onto the side of Big Ben as if to say, “Ha! Ignore this, you bastards!” The image was accompanied by the reminder: “Don’t forget to pack the urn”. Despite the fact the urn is, and always will be, housed in a case at Lord’s, is not an actual trophy, etc etc.

Andrew Strauss, in his last press conference prior to flying off to Perth tomorrow, declared himself amused at these latest shenanigans and – looking every inch the elder statesman except when questioned about Graeme Swann’s mention on Twitter of being unable to locate his passport, upon which he sounded instead like your granddad struggling to switch on a computer – said:

“I think you can spend hours trying to think up witty retorts to comments or you can spend hours trying to get your game in order. We have an excellent chance of winning over there, we are a good tight unit, we know what to expect and can’t wait to get over there.”

Jesus. It’s almost like England want to let their cricket do the talking or something.

Ban boot camps

Monday, October 18th, 2010

Shane Warne has a complete hatred of them, the ECB seem to think they’re a brilliant idea, and I suspect I’m not the only one who can’t see the bloody point of them.

I’m talking about the boot camps the England team are now customarily sent on prior to the Ashes. In 2009 it was strategy and tactics meetings preceded by a trip to Flanders Field.

This year, it was rock-climbing, sleeping in tents, abseiling off cliffs, and a visit to Dachau concentration camp.

It’s like company paintball, but with added genocide.

The most immediate, and potentially most damaging consequence, as far as England’s Ashes hopes go, is that during this “bonding exercise”, Jimmy Anderson suffered a cracked rib in a boxing session with Chris Tremlett. Quite what the leader of England’s bowling attack was doing in the ring with 6ft 7 in, potential Ashes-lineup hopeful Tremlett, is anyone’s guess. I’d love to know who thought this was a good idea.

The ECB have assured us Jimmy should be fit in time for Brisbane. But let’s be honest, if he’d broken a bone while boxing in his own time, the wrath of the ECB would have fallen with considerable weight upon him and the poor bastard would never have heard the end of it. It’s for the same reason that it’s not uncommon for people who drive a Formula 1 car or ride a MotoGP bike to have a clause in their contract that forbids them from skiing off mountains and the like.

As far as the visit to Dachau goes: I can appreciate the intent behind it, to open up the eyes of cricketers to a wider world and wider issues beyond their own immediate, cocooned existence.

But there’s something about a bunch of sportsmen visiting the site where thousands of people died as a “team bonding” exercise that makes me feel a little uncomfortable. While the combat element of sport is normal, healthy, and exhilarating – it is what makes victory all the sweeter – there’s a far cry between that and facing a World War One sniper or death in an extermination camp. It is not literally a war our boys are going into, and it is extremely unlikely that anyone will die.

True, this is not the first time cricket teams have visited war sites – Gallipoli has been a popular destination for Australian teams en route to England, but the fact it is now tied in with the cod-science arse-whackery of sports psychology with all its attendant bullshit terms of “insight” “leadership” and “making difficult decisions under pressure” is what makes it a bit fucking much.

So the next time England’s security guru Reg Dickason is burning up his keyboard googling “human disaster areas” in preparation for the next Ashes “boot camp” he’d be better off following Warne’s advice of locking everyone up in the boozer and letting them get on with it.

At the very least, Jimmy Anderson’s ribs will thank him.

Peace breaks out at Grace Road, everyone calms the fuck down

Monday, October 18th, 2010

Chief executive David Smith resigned because of chairman Neil Davidson’s meddling. Davidson managed to piss everyone off including the players, ground staff and yours truly. Two petitions were drawn up by members demanding Davidson’s removal, and Tim Boon said “time to blow this fucked up Popsicle stand” and buggered off to take up the England U-19 coaching job, and who could blame him.

Now peace, of a sort, has broken out at Grace Road.

Well, it’s more of a compromise, really.

Neil Davidson has finally emerged from his Führerbunker and resigned. The special general meeting that was timetabled for November 17th has been cancelled after a meeting between the board of directors and the members who drew up the petitions.

The AGM scheduled for March has now been brought forward to February, during which the current board of directors will resign and stand for re-election.

In the meantime, Paul Haywood has taken on the role of chairman, and Mike Siddall is chief executive. Captain Matthew Hoggard has hailed these appointments as a positive step forward.

The immediate effect of this is that a ceasefire has been reached and those who stood to be most affected by this – the players – are free to concentrate on their off-season training.

Thankfully, the team seems to been brought together and made stronger as a result of this summer’s conflict. The opposite would have been utterly disastrous for the club, and let’s just say if, god forbid, that had come to pass, it would have been a case of pitchforks and flaming torches rather than a couple of petitions.

But there are still unresolved issues. For a start, it was discovered the members do not have the power to remove the board of directors at a special general meeting, even if 75 per cent of the votes cast in the ballot call for it.

Secondly, one of the other resolutions outlined in the petition was to hear from David Smith as to why he resigned.

David Smith is still a member of Leicestershire County Cricket Club. Will we get a chance to hear his side of all that’s happened at February’s AGM? It would seem that once again, the board seem to have bought themselves some time, and we are still none the wiser.

Also, our interim chairman, Paul Haywood, when he handed in his resignation (not accepted) at a meeting at which the rest of the board backed Davidson, gave as the reason for his resignation “issues [that] had come to the board’s knowledge that we were previously unaware of that meant I could no longer support him.”

He went on to say: “Due to confidentiality, I cannot disclose these reasons. I had spoken about my views to the chairman and the board but, at this meeting, I received no support from the other board members.”

As a member, it would be nice to know precisely what these reasons were.

Pretty much a large part of Leicestershire’s off-field summer has been comprised of bitching, backbiting, slanging matches, smokescreens, and now compromise.

And we still don’t have the full picture.

Will all become clear come February? I doubt it. Will anything change? That remains to be seen.

Only god save us from another summer like the one just gone – off the field at least.

Australia lose, and Warne weighs in

Wednesday, October 13th, 2010

There were only ever going to be two ways this Test would end.

Wickets would either fall today like corn before the scythe, or the Indian team would bowl out Australia’s tail early and then chase down the runs needed to win with relentless superiority.

Today at Bangalore it was the latter. Bowled out for 223, Australia presented India with a target of 207 to win and this they did, without undue incident, for the loss of only 3 wickets. Bit of a stark contrast to the oxygen-starved tension of Mohali, but I did say yesterday that the unknowables are what make Test cricket great.

In this case, one of those unknowables, or unknowns, more precisely, was Indian debutant Cheteshwar Pujara. The 22 year old came in at 3 after the loss of Sehwag and proceeded to bat with a combination of freedom and maturity that bodes well for the future when India find themselves in the same situation Australian cricket did three years ago when Warne, McGrath and Gilchrist retired.

He went for 72 and it was left to those two redoubtable old stagers, Tendulkar and Dravid, to bring it home. In this match Sachin has made history – again – and so it was fitting that he scored the winning runs, giving India victory at a ground they last won on in 1995, and solidifying India’s lead at the top of the Test rankings.

If your name was Nathan Hauritz, you probably found you were in a nightmare from which you couldn’t wake up. I will be surprised if the selectors keep him after this, and I too was one of many who held their head in their hands every time he came on and an Indian batsman’s eyes lit up.

It was like watching a game of buzkashi, where the batsmen were the horsemen and Hauritz was the headless goat corpse being torn apart between them in the battle for possession.

His figures were grim – 3-229 for christ’s sake, but in the cold light (or warm glow, depending on who you were supporting) of an Australian defeat, let’s look at things a tad more sensibly. Firstly, the conditions are always tough in India. Hell, even Warne’s record there is average: only 34 out of his total of 708 wickets were taken in Tests in that country, and the only time he took more than 4 wickets in an innings it cost him 125 runs.

Secondly, Ricky Ponting’s captaincy betrayed an utter lack of faith in Hauritz. Fielders were scattered in the deep, moved into positions only after that area had been targeted. It was passive and defensive captaincy with fields set for bad bowling: not the best way to give your bowler confidence.

One man especially riled by this cruelty to his spinning brethren was Shane Warne – currently between poker tournaments and no doubt on a plane somewhere – who let rip on Twitter with:

It’s tough to disagree with this sentiment. Ponting’s captaincy has received much scrutiny since the days when, due to having Warne and McGrath at his disposal, the team pretty much captained itself. At best, some of his decisions have looked random; at worst, downright fucking stupid.

One can argue till the cows come home about the merits of Nathan Hauritz as a Test spinner. His favourite line seems to be wide of off-stump while hoping the ball will turn; a lot of the time it doesn’t. He is ironically more effective when he bowls a tighter line; Ponting seems to want an Australian version of Harbhajan, but this may be a step too far.

Hauritz has, however, put in some decent Test performances when his side have needed them, and Steve Smith, the man many think he should make way for, is arguably more effective with the bat at the moment. Smith still averages about 50 as a bowler, and is very much a work in progress still. Replacing Hauritz with Smith in the Ashes may be too early. Plus, it is very unlikely Hauritz will be quite this shit on his home turf.

Nathan Hauritz must now try and pick himself up in the upcoming ODIs followed by a couple of Sheffield Shield matches for New South Wales, and put forward a convincing case for Ashes retention. No doubt everyone and his dog will have an opinion on whether he should be part of the Australian line-up at Brisbane.

The selectors certainly have a lot of thinking to do.

All (big) Guns (to go down) Blazing

Tuesday, October 12th, 2010

Peter George had something of a tough day at the office yesterday.

Expectations were high for the young newcomer on his Test debut. His bowling for South Australia has been called “McGrath-like”, which is uncomfortably reminiscent of the fact Phil Hughes was compared to Bradman before Steve “straight to 2nd slip” Harmison rediscovered the killer inside himself and took Hughes apart with viciously directed straight lifters in last year’s tour match at New Road.

So the boy George would have been understandably nervy when thrown the ball for the first time during the evening session of Day 2. Faced with the task of bowling at India’s galacticos, his first over was all over the bloody place and Sehwag duly took a liking to him, pasting him for 2 successive boundaries.

George did manage the one maiden in that session, and as Sachin and India marched inexorably on the next day he seemed to settle down and find his line with more consistency. He also introduced us to the slo-mo bouncer, which we all had a good laugh at, but when we’d stopped pissing ourselves realised it proved quite effective in that when he bowled it no runs seemed to be forthcoming.

It did cross my mind during that nightmare first over that such is the irony, comedy, karma, providence of cricket, call it what you will – or maybe just the hand of a cricket god moved to mercy by a young man’s thankless exertions – that Tendulkar would probably be Peter George’s first Test wicket.

And so it proved to be. Whichever god it was who wrote the script did ensure that the maestro wracked up another couple of stratospheric achievements – 49th Test ton, another double hundred, and so it (and he) goes on – before a beautiful swinging delivery from the debutant found Sachin’s inside edge as he tried to cut and chopped the ball onto his stumps.

If there is anything guaranteed to give you a little confidence on your maiden appearance for your country, taking the wicket of the world’s greatest batsman must surely be it.

A couple of days ago this Test match was wandering along the flat road leading to the nowhere of a nailed-on draw. Tomorrow, Day 5 will dawn with the promise of a victory. For whom, it’s too tight to say. India hold a slight advantage but it all depends on whether they can take Australia’s 3 remaining wickets quickly. At the moment Australia’s lead is 185, and five of their 7 wickets have gone to the spinners. Can Hauritz replicate the success of Ojha and Harbhajan? Will Ricky Ponting trust him enough to let him try?

There will be heroics. There will be tension. Larynxes will be screamed raw as bowlers appeal for everything. Batsmen will go to the middle all guns blazing and get out playing stupid shots.

Or, the last three wickets of Australia’s innings will fall cheaply and India will do the cricketing equivalent of stealing confectionery from a small child in knocking off the runs required.

The not knowing is part of the excitement, and it is part of what makes matches like this great.

Welcome… to Test cricket.

Murali Vijay: Super Sub

Monday, October 11th, 2010

Murali Vijay was only 5 years old when Sachin Tendulkar made his international debut in 1989.

Today he took his place at The Little Master’s side to help India to a total of 435-5 at stumps on Day 3 against Australia at Bangalore.

As usual, the focus of the large crowd’s attention was Tendulkar’s faultless batting – he scored his 49th Test hundred and finished the day not out on 191 – but his partnership with his young apprentice added 308 runs for the 3rd wicket, and has made it very unlikely that India will lose this match.

The only times I have seen Murali Vijay bat in Tests he has been filling in for someone else. His first Test appearance was in November 2008, when Gautam Gambhir was banned for elbowing Shane Watson during the previous Test at Delhi. The debutant acquitted himself respectably, scoring 33 and 41 and, probably more importantly, running out Matthew Hayden when the god-bothering flat track bully was on 16.

Since then he has been in and out of the Indian team, called up to the ICC World Twenty20 squad in April to replace Sehwag who was suffering from a back injury. He has played 8 Tests including this one, and, until today, his highest score had been 87. Today he went one better, and despite suffering a couple of nerve-wracking moments – a run-out chance early on when a Nathan Hauritz throw missed the stumps, and an lbw shout off the bowling of Ben Hilfenhaus – he brought up his hundred with a scampered run and a celebratory leap. It was an innings of composure, elegance, superb driving and invaluable in the support it lent to his more illustrious partner at the other end.

The problem with being a substitute is that you will invariably be outshone by the established superstars that surround you. Today Murali Vijay made some progress in emerging from their extremely long shadows.

As a footnote, I was amused and exasperated to learn that since scoring that magnificent 139 (his innings ended with a tired swipe at a wide delivery from Johnson), Vijay has received “an official reprimand for breaching the ICC Code of Conduct and regulations governing clothing and equipment”. He apparently was displaying too many logos on his pads.

The laughable bit about all this was that the forbidden logos received a good long camera close-up while they were being covered up with tape yesterday during a break in play.

Only in cricket…

No more worlds to conquer

Sunday, October 10th, 2010

“When Alexander saw the breadth of his domain, he wept, for there were no more worlds to conquer.”

Sachin Tendulkar does not have this problem, as he seems to break records and expand the limits of what is possible in our best loved game on a regular basis.

Today at Bangalore, on Day 2 of the 2nd Test against Australia, he punched Nathan Hauritz through the covers for 4 and became the first man in history to reach 14000 Test runs. In January this year he passed the 13000 mark. Altogether, his international runs exceed 30000.

Those are just crazy numbers. It’s like Monopoly money. Genius sets its own goals, redefines its own standards of greatness, dismantles them, and sets them again. It is genius that ordinary mortals can barely find words for beyond the same oft-used clichés, because Sachin is better at cricket than most of us will ever be at anything.

There is no flash or bluster about The Little Master. You wonder whether achievement piled upon achievement, records set from the day he took guard in international cricket as a 16-year-old, have jaded him. How much can one man possibly achieve before the extraordinary becomes commonplace? When fans in the crowd hold up placards saying “God is at the crease”, “Keep silent, Sachin is batting”, when the howl of a crowd thirty thousand strong reaches a roaring crescendo as the bowler starts his run and you wait for that delivery that could be right for dispatching to the boundary en route to another milestone… how long do you have to be the best at what you do before you ever get used to that?

He goes quietly about his business with the bat, letting the weight of runs and the beauty of his strokeplay speak for him. It is only afterwards, when questioned, that he tells you honestly and modestly exactly what each achievement means to him. “Last 20 years I have pushed myself really hard. Challenges are always going to be there for me. All I need to do is to focus as hard as possible, work on my fitness, lead a disciplined life and use my body cleverly. When I started playing, I didn’t think of all these things. God has been really kind. I’m enjoying every moment.”

He gives as one of the keys to his success the fact that he still enjoys the game, and that the ball still finds the middle of the bat. The ball finds the middle of his bat with such consistency because, after a difficult period accompanied by injury, India’s failure in the World Cup of 2007 and critics like Ian Chappell questioning his place in the team, he is arguably now in the best form of his life.

Sachin is 37 years old. In the words of Indiana Jones, “it’s not the age; it’s the mileage”.

There is a lot of mileage under Tendulkar’s belt, and one hell of a lot of runs.

And he isn’t finished yet. Because just when it seems there are no more worlds for Tendulkar to conquer, he goes and finds another one.

Johnny Come Lately at the Last Chance Saloon

Saturday, October 9th, 2010

Realistically, this 2nd Test against India which started today at Bangalore is Marcus North’s last chance to secure himself a place in the Australian team for the Ashes.

His scores prior to today make for pretty gloomy reading, if you are a Marcus North fan. I wouldn’t say I’m president of the Marcus North fan club, or even secretary, or god help me club mascot  (even on the weekends, when there’s no one else to help out), but let’s just say I don’t have as big a downer on him as a lot of folk who think he’s not Test quality. He is stodgy as fuck to watch, and will make you cry with the sheer, mind-numbing tedium of his dour, earnest scoring, but 96 at Edgbaston last year as well as three hundreds in his first six Tests suggests he is of some use when he gets himself set.

Of course, this won’t be the first time he has left it to the last minute to pull his arse from out of the fire of imminent selectorial rejection. He saved his career in the series in New Zealand earlier this year where he followed up 112* in Wellington with 90 in Hamilton, only to have the pressure pile back onto his shoulders by not exceeding 20 and only reaching double figures a total of three times in the three Tests prior to this one. By any measure, his form coming into this Test was bloody diabolical.

The Australian selectors will want him to make a big score at Bangalore, not least because his success here will save them an almighty Ashes headache. More at home on flat decks than turning ones, he made the most of a drying wicket that had early on aided the spinners to finish on 43 not out at stumps, with his country on 285-5.

There were other performances that would have been similarly encouraging for Australia: Shane Watson continues to confound us all by posting consistently big scores while miraculously remaining entirely uninjured, and Ricky Ponting managed to steady the ship with Mike Hussey after a brief flurry of wickets fell after lunch.

But all eyes will be on Marcus North when he re-takes his guard tomorrow. He will be looking to kick on towards a big score*, and Australia will be eyeing at least 400.


*note that having written this, I have likely ensured he will be out first ball. Despite the best laid plans of mice, men and Australian batsmen, shit does happen.

The thorn in Australia’s side

Thursday, October 7th, 2010

Mohali, India v Australia. Day 5, India on 122-7 and needing 94 runs to win.

Harbhajan Singh comes to the crease on a king pair.

2 balls later, having managed to get off the mark, he fends a short ball from Doug Bollinger off his glove through to Ricky Ponting at slip.

At 124 for 8 and still needing 92 to win, that looked like it was pretty much curtains for India.

In the book Pundits From Pakistan, Rahul Bhattacharya writes that when VVS Laxman is batting, the window of the comm box turns “a delicate shade of rose”. Today he was less the rose and more the thorn, rigid with back pain and grim determination and spiky of temper, screaming with fury at Pragyan Ojha for not taking a single during their last wicket partnership. India were 76-5 when he came out to bat with Suresh Raina as his runner and he proceeded to work his way deep into Australia’s twitching hide.

Wincing with pain after twisting to put away a Mitchell Johnson delivery during his 81-run partnership with Ishant Sharma, he kept his head while at the other end his partners were losing theirs (Dhoni’s demise in particular being down to the almost inevitable confusion caused by the combination of a runner and a sense of desperation).

Sharma seems to have rediscovered the fact he can take wickets, and now he was showing he could wield a bat as well. India were 162-8 at lunch and needed 54 more runs to win; Sharma was on 14, Laxman 2 away from his half century, though for him physiotherapy and painkillers would probably have taken precedence over food.

A gloriously swivel-wristed pull off Ben Hilfenhaus brought up Laxman’s 50, and by the time Sharma perished for 31 to an lbw shout that looked plumb in real time but on replay seemed to be going down leg (another argument for UDRS at all Test matches, surely), only 11 more were required.

11 runs, 1 wicket. A simple equation, a task still verging on the impossible. Laxman had understandably little confidence in Ojha’s ability with the bat and so singles were turned down, hurry-ups issued, obscenities yelled in shrieking desperation. Mid-pitch conferences were held after every ball and 3 sets of gloves punched.

The ending came amid frantic chaos as a result of 2 leg-byes with 3 results possible. Laxman, surely now running on adrenaline alone, ran cheering towards coach Gary Kirsten as the rest of the India team charged onto the field to congratulate and celebrate with their wounded, conquering hero.

Laxman has done this sort of thing before, carrying the burden of rescuing his team like a fire-fighter with a smoke victim over his shoulder fighting his way out of a burning building, but unlike Eden Gardens in 2001 the stadium at Mohali was almost empty. If ever an occasion demanded a raucous, gladiatorial crowd cheering their team on to victory it was surely this one.

Given such great drama, it is a shame that this is only a 2-match series and that the Border Gavaskar Trophy has already been decided. The two teams meet next at Bangalore two days hence.

Ding dong, the witch is dead

Wednesday, October 6th, 2010

Neil Davidson has announced his resignation as chairman of the board of Leicestershire CCC.

Instead of going quietly, and with some measure of dignity, he has chosen to opt for a scorched earth policy and laid the blame for the club’s current crisis at the feet of captain Matthew Hoggard.

Back in August, Hoggard and senior coach Tim Boon had sent letters to the board requesting Davidson’s removal, citing his interference in team selection. Coaching staff, the players, and the ground staff were known to be deeply unhappy. Tim Boon has subsequently left to become England U-19 coach. That was a pretty horrible week at Grace Road if you were a Leicestershire supporter.

Since then there has been stubbornness, recriminations, and a second petition delivered to the club’s offices after the first was dismissed on technicalities. At the time, Davidson disingenuously fired broadsides at Hoggard and Boon for involving themselves in board matters when, he said,  it was up to the membership if changes were to be made – this while all the while seeming to do his level best to avoid a frank and open discussion at which members would be privy to both sides of a conflict that has been raging since chief executive David Smith resigned in June.

Davidson, in his statement yesterday, cited as the reason for his resignation the fact that he had asked Hoggard to remove his signature from the letters and retract his criticisms, and having given him 14 days to do so, stated that the captain’s refusal to grovel had left the chairman in a position that was “untenable”.

He continued, “I find his actions difficult to understand and I hope Matthew realises his irresponsible behaviour has led to the chaos which has engulfed the club ever since.

“Indeed, had he not put his name to the letters in the first place – which if he had thought it through properly, I believe he would not have done – then the current crisis at the club could have been avoided.”


About a week ago I received a letter from the club secretary announcing a Special General Meeting on November 17th. The letter states: “You may have seen stories in the press regarding the business  to be transacted at the Members meeting… the resolutions and any other business to be conducted at the Special General Meeting will be notified to you in good time.”

One of the resolutions set out in the petition – which I and many other members signed during that eventful week back in August – was the proposal for a vote of no confidence in the board.  This is the same board which backed Davidson and which then moved very quickly yesterday to distance itself from him and to give Matthew Hoggard its full backing and support. Considering the board has been locked in legal discussions regarding changing the resolutions laid out in the petition, and given the events of yesterday, the question of whether this meeting will now even go ahead remains to be seen. Stay tuned.

As for our departed chairman and his extraordinary statement, to paraphrase Oscar Wilde, “It is better to remain silent and be thought an inflexible megalomaniac appearing to be desperate to hold on to power than to open your mouth and remove all doubt.”

The club is not in the rosiest of health financially. Membership and attendance are issues that need looking at. But one cannot help wishing this whole imbroglio had been handled very differently, and if a finger is to be pointed, it must be pointed at Davidson for dragging the club into a crisis it must now dust itself down from.

Anyone who has been following this saga knows that the club also has an extraordinary wealth of young talent who could go on to be future representatives of their country. The continued development of this talent is what the club must focus on now.

Onward, and upward.