spilling the beans

Have you caught the stuff in the press these last few days about those at the very top of our primary sports criticising each other? In the Sundays we saw both Lawrence Dallaglio and Mike Catt (both of whom I have lots of time for) criticising the England team manager Brain Ashton for his ineffective leadership during the RWC, in their autobiographies released now they have announced their retirements from the international game. This came on the heels of former England cricket team coach, Duncan Fletcher, announcing in his autobiography that his captain during the disastrous Ashes series, Freddy Flintoff, was irresponsibly pissed for much of the time.

What does that make you think? Initially of course it’s that they’ve all get to sell their books. Fair enough. In the case of LD and MC I’m entirely sympathetic. The RWC was a shambles until the players forced a re-think by Ashton of his whole strategy and approach. It wasn’t a secret and it worked, even if it means Ashton comes out of it without great credit. Too bad. He seems to be a great coach and a useless manager. He’s not the first and I hope they continue to find a role for his talents.

In the Fletcher case I’m far less happy about his revelations. It just seems to me that he a) shouldn’t have appointed FF in the first place if he know about his problem b) when he did find out, he ought to have stripped him of his captaincy and sent him home and c) if he wasn’t going to do the latter then he really should have kept quiet about it. Freddy, in his autobiography launched earlier, presented a discreetly complimentary view of DF even though it is pretty widely known that they didn’t get on. Is that good or bad? I think it’s entirely decent.

DF didn’t have too many issues with FF when he was a major influence in winning the Ashes over here when his ‘refuelling’ habits were equally strong I assume. But to rubbish and blame Freddy’s drink problems for the outcome of the series following both their sackings strikes me as terribly shallow and mean-spirited.

Freddy may be hugely flawed but he performed like one of the cricketing gods for his country during the Ashes win over here and will remain in our affections for those deeds forever. You Duncan were simply a decent manager/coach of the team until the blame affliction got the better of you. So frig off back to Zimbabwe or wherever and lead a life as pure as the driven snow if you can.



3 thoughts on “spilling the beans

  1. Welcome back FPB! I check in now and then and normally agree with your observations. At last a posting that I can take issue with.

    Funny isn’t it. Players (no longer under contract) slag off manager (even though successful) = well done lads for giving the inside track on what really happened, manager (no longer under contract) slags off player (who was unsuccessful) = cries of disloyalty, what goes on tour stays on tour, shallow, mean spirited etc.

    Even someone who isn’t a sports fan can see this isn’t exactly an even handed approach.

    Why is Freddie worth a sainthood? Yes he was brilliant in one series but does that put him above reproach for the rest of his career? Compared with truly great cricketers he has spectacularly failed to live up to his potential. Doing it now and again does not equal greatness (please see career figs for anyone in the great WI side of the 80’s or most of the Aussies, a sprinkling of Indians and Pakistanis and one Sri Lankan)

    In fact he probably wouldn’t get in the top 50 cricketers in terms of career achievements. Shane Warne has got into trouble over the years but hasn’t let it get in the way of a very long career at the highest level.

    He joins a long and illustrious group of heroes that we seem so fond of who all have a couple of things in common. They failed to reach anything like their potential and they (literally) pissed it up the wall.

    Gazza – wife beating alcoholic selected to play for England the week after being done for giving the missus a good thrashing (but hey he’s cheeky, loveable Gazza so that’s ok)

    George Best – deprives someone of a transplant so he can take a little longer to drink himself to death.

    Stan Bowles – gambling addict with great natural skill and good drinking abilities.

    Alex ‘Hurricane’ Higgins – a great player and of course character, especially as defined by being pissed, squandering immense talent and of course hitting officials and competitors.

    It’s peverse. We simply prefer brief flashes of flawed genius (especially if they’re piss heads) to professionalism and long term success. Look at the crap written over the last couple of years about Tim Henman (not my favourite for sure) our best tennis player for years or the way Nick Faldo, our best ever golfer, was / is reviled.

    IMHO the only thing Fletcher did wrong was to keep him in the team (bet there was no pressure to cover up from his bosses and protect darling Freddie and the game’s image eh?). He should have been sacked and sent for treatment to get himself sorted out.

    As for the Fletcher go home comments I’m a little disappointed. He took over a mediocre, under performing team and turned English cricket from being an embarrassment into an entertaining winning unit. And this was done through professionalism, not in the bar or by being a heroic ‘character’.

    There, I feel better now…

  2. Not at all Mr. it’s good to have a contra point of view expressed.

    in many respects you are right. I’m not condoning Freddy’s drinking – as a professional sportsman he ought not to do that. but it’s conceivable he has a major illness and not just an unfortunate habit of of course. i’m just annoyed by Fletcher’s hypocracy. he demanded loyalty from the team as their team manager and largely got it. but as soon as he’s out he dishes the dirt. it doesn’t strike me as terribly loyal in return. nor do i think it shows his management skills in a particularly good light. did he really have to accept FF as captain? I read that at least one other selector (Miller?) wanted Strauss to have it. surely it was a major mistake to think FF could do it and he ought to have been more principled over the appointment, in my view.

    but hey I guess these days anything goes in terms of selling the book. look at O’Leary and Hoddle’s cynicism over their books. That’s one reason why I’m kind of looking forward to reading Bobby Charlton’s book, having waited 50 years to record his thoughts. Mind you it’ll be lacking sensationalism. Hoorah!


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