The briefing June 29, 2017

Whole lotta coaches goin' out

June is the month for the men in charge of cricket teams to throw the towel in
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"If I'm temporary, what were the previous nine?": Nic Pothas assumes Sri Lanka coaching duties © AFP

The vacancy
Having this month elbowed Graham Ford out of his job, SLC are on their tenth head coach in seven years. As Nic Pothas' position is only temporary, the board may soon begin searching for a more permanent appointment. The Briefing has taken the liberty of drawing up an advertisement, which the board is welcome to use:

© ESPNcricinfo Ltd

The power move
One month after Ramachandra Guha resigned from the BCCI's Committee of Administrators, lambasting the "superstar culture" within the organisation, Anil Kumble has parted ways with the national team, thanks in part to disagreements with Virat Kohli.

Kumble, though a superstar himself, was not in this instance as monumental a figure as the present India captain.

If the BCCI want a coach who is not just a player patsy, they might need to hire someone who has an even bigger name than the men within the team. The question is: is the cricket world ready for Coach Kardashian?

The pitch problems
England had issues with their pitches in the past six weeks. Having been blown away on a Lord's greentop by South Africa in the approach to the Champions Trophy, they were stunned on a used Cardiff surface by Pakistan, in the semi-final. On both occasions the state of the pitch came into focus. Eoin Morgan criticised the Lord's pitch directly, and after Cardiff, said the surface was "too much of a jump" for a team that had played their most recent match at bouncier Edgbaston.

England were the tournament favourites, and looked just about unbeatable until they were waylaid by the Cardiff clay. The whole situation calls for an Andy Flower-era 2013-14 Ashes cookbook-type fix, whereby the team can specify exactly how many blades of grass should remain on the surface, how much sun, in nanoseconds, the pitch should get before the game, and the optimal body-fat percentage of the groundsman who sits in the heavy roller that packs down the soil.

AB de Villiers: unhappy camper © Getty Images

The zombie
For the last few months, one of the best players in the world, and maybe the greatest batsman of his generation, has plodded around cricket fields a little dead in the eyes. AB de Villiers hasn't played a Test since January 2016 and, at only 33, is now talking about trimming his cricket commitments with a view to retiring in 2019.

Maybe it's South Africa's Kolpaxodus, or perhaps he is just bored of dominating the best attacks the planet has to offer. Whatever the case, international cricket needs to have him in it, and the cricket world might do well to find out whatever it is that will cheer de Villiers up.

The shock Champions Trophy triumph
The 2017 Champions Trophy gave the cricket world a surprise that brought unspeakable joy to tens of millions: the Google Doodle stick-cricket game.

Now Google has a long history of producing great doodles unexpectedly, but even by those standards, this was a stirring achievement. Many were left elated by their new high scores, though in parts of the world, others have also been saddened at the number of work hours lost.

The riposte
The Women's World Cup has broken new ground with its visibility and popularity this year, and hopes are high the tournament can inspire a new generation of cricketers. It might also have brought an end to a long-time bugbear of women cricketers around the world - the query about which male cricketer is their favourite. Before the tournament began, India captain Mithali Raj dispatched the question like a long hop to the boundary, when she responded: "Do you ask the same question to a male cricketer? Do you ask them who their favourite female cricketer is?"

"Congratulations, chaps. You're now going to be ignored and belittled in a whole new way!" © Peter Della Penna

The young sensation
Hasan Ali and Ben Stokes may have lit up the Champions Trophy, but the best performance of the month might have come in St Lucia, where Rashid Khan claimed 7 for 18 in what was frankly a ridiculous spell of legspin bowling. Two wickets came from his first two balls, and by the time he completed his fourth over, he already had a five-for. With Afghanistan's schedule about to become a lot busier over the next few years, Rashid could have the honour of becoming the first player from his nation to be accused of putting IPL commitments over national duty.

The new cousins
Ireland and Afghanistan have been granted Test status this month, which is an affirmation of their readiness for the rigours of cricket's toughest format.

Are Afghanistan and Ireland ready, however, for the paternalistic manner in which they are about to be covered by the global cricket media? Are they prepared for hand-wringing editorials about whether Test cricket is besmirched by their presence in it, every time they suffer a collapse? Are they ready to be treated like weird relatives by the established cricket nations, who will make excuses not to tour them, and invite them over only sparingly?

Over the past four decades, Sri Lanka, Zimbabwe and Bangladesh all went through stages of being treated like cricket's nuisance, rather than embraced and uplifted for the wider benefit of the sport.

Welcome, Ireland and Afghanistan, to a whole new world of dysfunction. Get through the hard years, put in your time, and with a little luck, you will be able to be condescending towards Nepal, Scotland or Netherlands someday.

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

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • CricMystique on July 2, 2017, 7:30 GMT

    excellent humour - enjoyed this....as an indian fan...i felt you could replace the SLC advert with india and bcci....as it just about describes our BCCI.....with the somehow scarcely believable exception that our guys win more than they loose nowadays, and a few of them are a lot improved than when they debuted....and this not because of the system but despite it....and that is saying a lot...any ways, cheers and peace

  • azeem-6059075 on July 2, 2017, 5:45 GMT

    Superbly written as usual & loved the SLC advertisement for head coach.

  • shafqa7365067 on July 2, 2017, 0:42 GMT

    Just love this guy's articles. I think i read everyone of em

  • saifsh4385757 on July 1, 2017, 22:02 GMT

    Hahaha! Great article. Love the Andrew Fernando's matter-of-factly way of making tongue-in-cheek points. I think ICC should insist on all the teams touring all others to play Tests with some sort of regularity. I can understand the challenges this would pose, but perhaps 3- or 4-team Test tournaments can be the way forward. This would also lay the grounds -- so to speak -- for a world Test championship, something the ICC has been mulling over for quite some time.

  • svvash8555548 on June 30, 2017, 7:28 GMT

    A new order shall be restored. The sith will rule the Galaxy again.

  • rynelr8107044 on June 30, 2017, 6:58 GMT

    You forgot the mystery of how JP Duminy still gets selected for SA when he fails match after match

  • joseph3877915 on June 30, 2017, 4:01 GMT

    Andrew, the humour content of this article alone entitles you to a raise. (Er, doesn't that TOO happen around June?)

  • Michael on June 30, 2017, 0:21 GMT

    Cricket Australia are awfully thankful for the SLC.

    Although, it might be the one form of cricket we can take the number 1 mantle in the near future, administrative incompetence!

  • joshua7072265 on June 29, 2017, 20:52 GMT

    Very good article. Morgan sounds a bit silly. Both teams play on the same pitch.

  •   cricfan6809245785 on June 29, 2017, 20:09 GMT

    The periodic turmoils in cricket (particularly bad right now) leaves one with the distinct impression that the game has not yet made the transition to the professional era. The blame must lie with the administrators who seem unable to adapt to the much different and more demanding new era management skills. You feel they are still running things as an adult version of schoolboy cricket and not like a proper business with inter-alia proper KPI's, associated accountabilities and unambiguous performance management recruitment, selection and motivation. Why is it taking so long? Of course even fully professional sports are not without their issues but cricket is particularly bad. Maybe because there is this pretentious sentimentality that the game is somehow rooted in past traditions that need to be upheld at all costs. Why?

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