Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Poor pop psychology

This is the second time in as many weeks that Paul Coupar has placed the English team on the couch, and thus, the time is ripe to have a bit of a giggle. In a nutshell, here is the analysis: due to the guilt felt by England - and its cricketers - for its colonial past (this first variant, appeared in this article on why Pietersen was able to stick the boot into cricketers from former colonial possessions - because he didn't have a colonial past in his country of origin!), England's cricketers are too keen to get prizes for good behavior, and hence are not reverting to the snarling, jousting, foul-mouthed, "chuck-a-ball-at-the-Aussie opener", "hit-the-captain-don't-act-concerned", "bend-the-rules-on-subs" mentality that won the Ashes last year. So, if England would increase the number of sledges per over, stop trying to outdo Dravid in niceness (I must admit Flintoff has been charming in his post-match interviews, despite trying to up the nastiness quotient by giving Pathan a send-off), they would do much better.

Phew. What a mess. I'm not sure where to begin. First, lets get the contrast with Kevin Pietersen out of the way. I don't know if Coupar knows this, but Pietersen is from South Africa, which has a pretty blighted history of its own that holds up well in the wickedness competition with colonialism. Theres no reason to imagine that he'd be any less afflicted by the subconscious guilt that Coupar speaks of. If anything, the issue should appear even more prominently on Pietersen's radar given that he left RSA unable to deal with the complexities of its new post-apartheid reality.

Secondly, the idea that England's cricketers are being nice to Indian cricketers because of post-colonial guilt is:

a) Offensive, inasmuch as it implies that if all the trenchant critique of colonialism and over-reaction to boorish behavior (whether by English media or poor travellers) would go away, then English folks would be more capable of being true to themselves and would not be restrained by the petty niceties associated with trying to assuage guilt (stop complaining so much, it makes our cricketers play badly)

b) A poor explanation for English cricket performance, given the other plausible competitors (such as inexperience in batting, spin bowling and captaincy!). The failure to attain the sledging levels of last year is easily explained by the fact that England went into the series expecting the Nasty Australian and decided to go on the offensive first. India does not have such a reputation yet, and England see no reason to try and match them on that account.

Give it a rest, Paul. Stay off the pop psychology. Responses to critiques of colonialism is a complex subject, and casual off-the-cuff invocations in an attempt to explain sporting performance are non-starters.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I liked the fact that article began by expressing surprise that the England cricketers screwed up on an 'English' wicket! IMO, the order of the universe has been restored...

6:55 PM  

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