The briefing May 30, 2017

Sachin's shocking reveal, and Bangladesh's unshocking win

A quick recap of the month of May in cricket - in which we don't make fun of South Africa's chances at the Champions Trophy
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The pay dispute is so engrossing that we've made a little movie of it

The contracts crisis extravaganza
If any series featuring West Indies was the contest to watch in the 1980s, and Australia were the team to follow in the noughties, then in this decade, no rivalry has been as grand and as storied as that of cricketers versus their respective home boards.

The West Indies board has been at full-scale nuclear war with many of their players, the Pakistan board has maligned seniors and put junior players on notice, while Sri Lanka Cricket made the contracts dispute with its players an annual fixture between 2012 and 2015.

As cricket becomes more commercialised, and franchise tournaments grow in power, we can expect more player v board clashes in the coming years. So why not pick a side to support, and enjoy Cricket Australia's ongoing pay dispute with the Australian Cricketers' Association.

The players, such as Steven Smith and David Warner, of course, are well-known, but in match-ups such as these, cricket lovers also get the chance to learn more about the administrators taking part. What's James Sutherland's favourite boardroom move? What kind of pen is his weapon of choice? Perhaps CA could even print posters of their top negotiators, for kids to put up on their walls. What's especially rewarding is that unlike with cricketers, administrators are generally certain to stay in their posts for many years regardless of performance, so you can really build up a long-term bond.

At any rate, if you can't enjoy the drawn-out ebbs and flows of a months-long contracts crisis, perhaps you shouldn't call yourself a cricket purist.

The expectation expecter
Sachin Tendulkar's biopic-documentary Sachin: A Billion Dreams opened to much acclaim. On the day of its premiere, Tendulkar revealed to ESPNcricinfo that, "It would have been terrible to walk outside knowing that people are not expecting anything from me," and that he "would not have enjoyed" a low-pressure career.

Are you kidding me?

All those years pundits were telling us that cricket fans were too demanding of Sachin - that no one person should be prevailed upon to carry the hopes of so many - and we are only just now learning that Sachin not only enjoyed it, but that, in a sense, it was instrumental to his success? If we had known this sooner, entire nations could have threatened to throw themselves into wells if he didn't get runs, and the man might have scored 200 international centuries, instead of the mere 100 he managed.

Look at him, greedily taking in all the demands for sixes and fours and hundreds and victories © Associated Press

And also, why have we, the public, like complete idiots, failed to continue piling this pressure on him, since his retirement? Maybe he's beyond playing top-level cricket now, but Sachin, if you're reading this, cancer lays waiting to be cured, the Great Barrier Reef is dying, and the evenness of the new pavements in Colombo leaves much to be desired.

The post-retirement superstars
Kumar Sangakkara scored a fifth consecutive first-class century, for Surrey, becoming only the eighth man to achieve that feat, and somewhere during that run, became the first Sri Lanka batsman to score 20,000 first-class runs.

Mahela Jayawardene won the IPL as Mumbai Indians coach, signed up (as a player) with Lancashire for this year's T20 Blast, and has also landed the Khulna Titans coaching gig for the next BPL.

In fact, the two haven't stopped lurching from success to success since they retired from internationals. In the first few months since their departure, Sri Lanka fans probably felt quite happy for them.

But given the present state of the Sri Lanka team they left behind, it has begun to feel like gratuitous taunting.

The not-at-all-empty threat
Early in the month, the BCCI agreed to send a team to the Champions Trophy, despite having had its payments from the ICC slashed, in April. This had followed several weeks of threatening to pull out of the ICC event in protest, which in past years had been an extremely successful bargaining strategy for the Indian board.

"Yes, we are indeed too big to fit into the ICC-distributed boots" © Sajjad Hussain/AFP

Below are excerpts of a BCCI press release following the decision to take part:

"Although we have decided to send a team to the ICC event this time, voting unanimously to do so at a Special General Meeting, this does not mean we weren't very, very serious about our threats to pull out of the tournament.

"In fact, it is pure coincidence that we have decided to fold on the very first occasion in years that the remainder of the cricket world has called us on our grandiose bluff.

"The BCCI cannot reiterate enough how much the threats of the last week, and indeed of the past few years, have NOT been an exercise in empty brinkmanship.

"The cricket world would do well to understand that our total and emphatic surrender this time absolutely does not, in any way, undermine any potential future threats to pull out of ICC tournaments.

"So, you know, be warned."*

The pressure experts
The approach to every ICC tournament is enriched by a much-loved and storied cricket tradition, by which I mean the ruthless poking of fun at South Africa, who have of course, been perennial… er… underachievers.

This year, however, South Africa have had to contend with a raft of Kolpak defections, so let us not be too mean with our jokes.

Let us not wonder, for example, how the South Africa team managed to all fit in one plane to England, given the amount of baggage they have accrued over many global events.

And let's not suggest that they cried so much upon their most recent exit from the 2015 World Cup that Eden Park's turf had to be dug up and re-sown, so salted was the earth with tears.

Pakistan beat Bangladesh in a warm-up game. Now that's shocking © ICC

The non-shock non-upset
After a decade and a half of being patronised as the cricket world's impetuous little brother, Bangladesh have achieved some good form, but now find themselves talked down to by folks who characterise each of their victories as "shock upsets". To try and make up for this, The Briefing would like to sum up their recent victory in Dublin in the most respectful words possible:

In an entirely comprehensible turn of events, Bangladesh rose to No. 6 in the ODI rankings after defeating New Zealand by five wickets in standard cricketing fashion. The victory was delivered by an experienced Bangladesh top order and a well-led pace attack. The result conferred no great shame on New Zealand, who were beaten, after all, by a professional and well-drilled outfit from a cricket-loving nation, and not, you know, 11 guys running manically around the field vomiting and bumping into each other.

The great disarmament
Not since the Cold War nations met for their nuclear limitations treaties in the 1970s, perhaps, has any single power laid down their arms as willingly as Royal Challengers Bangalore this year. Royal Challengers had in their ranks Virat Kohli, Chris Gayle and AB de Villers - maybe the three most devastating T20 weapons in the world. And yet, RCB managed to come dead last in the IPL, winning only three of their 13 completed games. Along the way, they had registered totals like 49 all out, 96 for 9 and 119 all out. The UN's Office for Disarmament Affairs could probably learn a thing or two from that campaign.

*Not a real press release

Andrew Fidel Fernando is ESPNcricinfo's Sri Lanka correspondent. @andrewffernando

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • arjun on June 1, 2017, 8:50 GMT

    @TEST_MATCH_FAN " His only leading statistic is most matches played "

    You do not know about tendulkar.

  • Pad on June 1, 2017, 7:59 GMT

    You cant write an article without including sachin's name mate! Thsts only way to get a billion clicks irrespective of what the rest of the world think about it. Well played Andrew son!!

  • S on May 31, 2017, 21:52 GMT

    Please move on past Tendulkar. His only leading statistic is most matches played

  • Sanjay on May 30, 2017, 21:07 GMT

    There's no doubt in my mind that both Sanga and Mahela retired too early from international cricket. They had plenty left in the gas/petrol tank. They've probably been a bigger loss to SL than when Murali retired given Herath filled Murali's shoes very capably.

  • Cricinfouser on May 30, 2017, 17:30 GMT

    Pak beating Ban is not at all shocking but yeah Ban beating Nz outside is actually is shocking

  • Sachin on May 30, 2017, 16:42 GMT

    I think you are trying too hard to be funny. Ofcourse, Tendulkar thinks it would have been terrible if we didnt expect anything from him. I will feel terrible if my team didnt expect me to win the match even if its in gali cricket and Sachin is a legend.

  • wayne on May 30, 2017, 13:07 GMT

    SREDDI11, I'd think you wouldn't need a strong bowling lineup when you have Gayle, ABD and Kohli. Anyways, what I was getting at is that you can have all the stars you like - batters, bowlers, celebrity owners - and it doesn't guarantee success. Such is T20.

  • Sreekanth on May 30, 2017, 12:49 GMT

    @SREDDI11 - I didn't know bad bowling could cause you have 49 all out, 96/9 and 119 all out. Those scores usually happen due to bad batting, NO?

  • Siddharth on May 30, 2017, 12:07 GMT

    @SMUDGEON its because RCB have the worst bowling attack in the competition

  • wayne on May 30, 2017, 9:53 GMT

    It is mind-buggering how RCB, with all that talent at their disposal, managed to pick up the wooden spoon in the IPL. Chris Gayle can be a little hit and miss, but when he hits he's generally pretty good for a few runs; AB is supposed to be some kind of genius (or a clock?); and Kohli is Kohli. I guess sometimes it just doesn't matter how much money or resources you throw at something, or how you stack your batting, sometimes it just doesn't work out. Ah well, there's always next year... (unless you're Pune or Gujarat).

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