Tag: Darren Lehmann

Has David Warner really ‘gone rogue’ and if so, why? Let’s examine the evidence

Absolutely the best recent headline about Australia’s ball tampering is the one on Fox Sports suggesting that David Warner has ‘gone rogue’.

The evidence for David Warner’s rogue-going is that (a) he was sitting on his own at one point and (b) he drank Champagne with friends who weren’t cricketers.

Based on this, it is hard to avoid the conclusion that we have also gone rogue, because (a) sounds rather lovely while (b) is definitely something we’ve done at weddings and female birthdays.

What is however stated less explicitly is (c) a general vibe that Warner is distancing himself from the team and is also kind of furious. Unnamed players have warned that there could be an ‘incident’ (which, admittedly, could just mean that one or two of them want to lamp him) and there’s a sense that throughout the tour he’s been gradually drifting further and further into Davidwarnerland where David Warner makes the laws and David Warner enforces the laws and everyone else is somehow in the wrong.

If you’re reading articles elsewhere today, there’s a good chance you’ll come across a sentence along the lines of “there’s a growing feeling that Warner was the ringleader” and this probably feels fairly credible to you.

Let’s bulletpoint the circumstantial evidence.

The third of those is probably the only one that’s truly of relevance because we all know there are plenty of arseholes who don’t tamper with cricket balls.

Several UK newspapers have run a story that Warner told England players how he used the strapping on his hand to knacker up the surface of the ball a bit during the Ashes.

Here is a picture of Warner’s hand during the Port Elizabeth Test (thanks to Darryl for pointing this out to us).

Warner’s hand (via Twitter)

This image raises three important questions in escalating order of importance:

  • Does David Warner really need that much strapping?
  • David Warner puts his wife’s name on his bandages?
  • What the hell does it mean that David Warner puts his wife’s name on his bandages? That means something, right? There’s no way that doesn’t say something about their relationship. (His kids’ names are also on there, but very much as afterthoughts.)

It’s important to point out that Warner is right-handed, so he shouldn’t have required assistance writing the names. (Several of you will no doubt feel that he probably did require assistance writing the names anyway.)

There has also been a suggestion that Cameron Bancroft only became Ball Management Guy after a dressing room attendant spotted Warner putting sandpaper in his strapping during the second Test at Port Elizabeth. This claim has the general air of being not enormously true based on the vagueness of the source, but we mention it anyway because you never know. We certainly wouldn’t bet big money against it and not just because we already have a lot of outgoings and to do so would therefore be somewhat irresponsible as well as juvenile.

The most compelling case for David Warner as ringleader has been put forward by journalist Geoff Lemon. He thinks Warner’s smarter than he’s generally given credit for (which, in all honesty, isn’t actually all that hard given the public perception of him) but he says he’s also prone to wild mood swings and high aggression. Even never having met him, those qualities just seem instantly and 100 per cent believable.

Lemon doesn’t think Steve Smith can control Warner and instead just tries to accommodate him. He thinks the South Africa experience has got to Warner and that he’s increasingly been driven by what he perceives to be righteous rage. Under a weak captain and an indulgent and protective coach who lacks perspective and self-awareness, you can see how that kind of an attitude might lead Warner towards ever-darker parts of the grey area and incrementally on from there.

An alternative view, which we’ll put forward for balance, is that David Warner is a very convenient and beautifully appropriate fall guy.

We were in a police line-up once. It was when we were at university. We can’t remember exactly how it came about, but we think that someone from the police came onto the campus and said that they needed young men with short dark hair to make up the numbers. So we went down to the station along with a bunch of other short-dark-haired middle-class students and stood next to a lad from the estate with somewhat longer hair and then the person came in and said it was the lad from the estate and we all got a tenner and went and bought ourselves ten pints.

The point is, take almost any conceivable combination of current Test cricketers, line them up alongside David Warner and then ask people to guess which one’s been a dick. Doesn’t even matter what the crime is – who are people going to pick? People are going to pick David Warner because he’s a dick.

The idea that Australia did something wrong and that Warner was 99 per cent responsible is an easy thing to accept because it just seems so fundamentally plausible.

Warner too will be aware of this. He’s spent most of his career feeling like everyone’s got it in for him and while there’s a dash of paranoia and a soupçon of insecurity in that assessment, it’s also pretty much fully accurate and correct.

The man himself, you feel, will have a strong sense of the way the wind is blowing this week and might therefore have concluded that he might as well ‘go rogue’ before he’s officially banished. Why wait?

Australia have been caught ball-tampering. But what was the worst aspect? And what was the funniest?

Excuse making (all images via Sky Sports video)

Well this is very much hilarious but also reprehensible because saying the second bit is part of the unwritten contract we have all entered into as cricket fans.

Australia have been caught ball-tampering, a simple statement that doesn’t really do justice to all that’s happened and how people have reacted to it.

Australia planned to tamper with the ball, tampered with the ball, attempted to cover-up tampering with the ball and then, once they were flat out of options, admitted tampering with the ball and claimed it would never happen again (good luck taking 20 wickets in your next home Test match, lads).

It’s all a bit sordid. Let’s try and work out which was the worst bit (and also which was the funniest).

Altering the condition of the ball

The kind of cheating where you subsequently have to be incredibly skilful for it to actually have an impact is not, in our eyes, the world’s greatest crime.

The written law is that cricketers can only polish the ball. The unwritten law is pretty much: “Just don’t get caught, okay, because then we all have to feign outrage.”

Different people are happy with different things when it comes to ball “maintenance”. There will never be agreement, so the unwritten law becomes the pragmatic solution. Vithushan Ehantharajah wrote a truly excellent piece about reverse swing for The Cricket Monthly that features many of the common techniques. (In the lower leagues, a team-mate of Special Correspondent Dad’s used to apply lip balm to his trousers so that shining resulted in a sort of veneer.)

Surreptitiously altering the condition of the ball is like the ‘sticky bottle’ or ‘magic spanner’ in cycling, where a rider gets assistance from a team car under the guise of doing something else. There are circumstances where these things are considered okay and circumstances where they’re considered not okay. You do them at your own risk and if you cross the line, you just have to accept that everyone’s going to rip into you.

Verdict: Not the worst bit.

The rank incompetence

We don’t know whether it’s the worst aspect of this incident, but the Australians’ ball-tampering incompetence is certainly the funniest aspect. We’ll say that now. No real need to compare it the others.

Let’s first deal with the methodology. This is what Cameron Bancroft used on the ball.

Looks like sandpaper, doesn’t it? Looks pretty much exactly like sandpaper. That’s certainly what everyone instantly assumed.

But, no, it was not sandpaper. According to Bancroft: “We had a discussion during the break and I saw an opportunity to use some tape, get some granules from rough patches on the wicket to change the ball condition.”

Cameron Bancroft did not bring sandpaper onto the field of play to use on the ball. What he did was infinitely stupider than that. What Cameron Bancroft did was bring some raw materials onto the field of play with which to manufacture some sandpaper and THEN he used it on the ball.

Compounding this, he added: “Obviously it didn’t work, the umpires didn’t see it change the way the ball was behaving or how it looked or anything like that.”

So to run through the whole thing: Australia went to incredibly great lengths to try and alter the condition of the ball by manufacturing homemade sandpaper in full view of about 100 cameras and then they used it in full view of about 100 cameras and it didn’t work.

As risk-reward goes, that is not a great ratio.

Verdict: Not the worst bit.

The cover-up

Footage of an incident of cheating has been played on the big screen at the ground and obviously also broadcast around the world. Darren Lehmann thinks he’s probably the only one who’s spotted it though so he gets a message to the player responsible and lets him know.

Bancroft sneaks the offending material into his pants.

Now no-one will ever know!

‘Yes, yes, it was definitely this completely different bit of material that I was using,’ he told the umpires.

After he later came clean, Steve Smith said the plan was hatched by “the leadership group” but also informed the press that he was “not naming names.”

Verdict: Pretty bad.

The hypocrisy

Australia have in recent years very much positioned themselves as the moral arbiters of the game. As a rule of thumb, everything they do is fine and anything anyone else does crosses the line.

Darren Lehmann, in particular, has been roaming the world like some sort of sporting morality consultant, delivering lectures on what is and isn’t acceptable in cricket. More than that, in fact – like a judge, handing out verdicts and recommending sentences.

The whole time he’s been doing this, he – and everyone else in the team – has been going on and on and on about how the team plays hard but fair. There are so many quotes making reference to ‘the line’ and Australia’s respect for it that we honestly can’t pick out a favourite.

Verdict: This is probably the worst bit. It’s like the Team Sky thing, if you’ve been following that story (here’s a breakdown of it if you haven’t). If you set yourselves up as whiter-than-white, as moral arbiters of the sport, you will be judged against that standard.

Jake Lehmann signs for Yorkshire – all you need to know about Son of Boof (+ video)

Jake Lehmann

There was a brief period when Jake Lehmann’s T20 record was nothing but hitting a six to win a match. His first ever innings for Adelaide Strikers coincided with the last ball against Hobart Hurricanes. He needed to hit a four. He hit a six, which was also acceptable.

Lehmann is well regarded as a batsman and will be more than welcome at Yorkshire being as he’s the son of their greatest-ever overseas pro. As far as the rest of us are concerned, Lehmann’s ludicrous moustache and foppish floppy hair are far and away his most important qualities.

Lehmann replaces Travis Head whose comedy attributes are largely limited to nomenclature.

This news also gives us a semi-credible reason to publish this picture of a teenage Darren Lehmann.

Darren Lehmann

Taken from this video of his first first-class hundred (which was a double).

Who is Darren Lehmann and why is he called Boof?

Sometimes it can seem like not a year goes by without the number of people on Earth who are younger than us growing. As sickening as it might be, we have to accept that there may be upwards of one person reading this website who isn’t old enough to remember Darren Lehmann’s playing career.

Fortunately, one of the great things about writing a cricket website year after year to no discernible effect is that you end up with a stockpile of existing material to which you can refer at times like this.

We always thought Darren Lehmann was magic as a cricketer. Sometimes this led to weird, overly-enthusiastic bits of writing, like this thing we wrote after we had a dream about him.

At other times, we have tried to make sense. Here’s what we wrote when he was about to retire. Because of when it was written, that post omits the fact that in addition to scoring a triple hundred in his final match for Yorkshire, he also made a hundred in a record run-chase in his final one-day innings for South Australia before making another hundred in his final first-class match for them.

Other Darren Lehmann facts include that he once did some racism and that his nickname is ‘Boof’. If you’re wondering as to the origins of this nickname, it’s due to his uncanny resemblance to cult actress and Nineties video game TV programme presenter, Emily ‘Bouff’ Booth.

Darren Lehmann knows how to say goodbye

We said that Darren Lehmann’s final match would be worth watching.

Earlier this week, in his final one-day game, Lehmann played the lead role in a record run-chase in Australian domestic one-day cricket. He hit 126 not out off 104 balls as South Australia overhauled Western Australia’s 305. We could add the video, or we could just link to it at The Corridor.

Now, in his final first-class match, he’s done it again. Western Australia were all out for 236 (Jason Gillespie taking 7-58) and South Australia would have gone the same way but for our hero. His innings of 167 represented a sizable chunk of 397 all out and he did it off just 185 balls – entertaining to the last.

Who’ll be our favourite fat, bald cricketer now? We don’t know.

Darren Lehmann retires

Darren Lehmann was twice the batsman Mike Hussey is. That’s not a fat joke, nor is it meant as a put-down for Hussey, who we rate very highly – it’s just that Darren Lehmann was magic.

Some players have a really good season where they stand head and shoulders above everyone else. A lot of players manage to live off such a season for the rest of their careers. Darren Lehmann stood head and shoulders above everyone else, every season, for about 20 years. He was outrageously superior for an astonishing length of time.

He hit 3,000 one-day international runs, won two World Cups, averaged 45 in a 27 Test career and finishes as the top run-scorer of all time in Australian domestic cricket, but still he didn’t get as much success as he ought to have done.

He was unfortunate to find himself competing with Steve and Mark Waugh for Test batting spots, but we’re not sure they were his betters. Their reputations were largely forged in Test cricket and we suspect Lehmann would have fared just as well give more of a chance, but we’ll never know.

To watch Lehmann bat was to watch someone totally in command of their own game and the confidence that brought allowed him to deal with any match situation. In his final season playing for Yorkshire, he rose to the occasion in all the big games. Or at least he appeared to. In reality he was on top form from first to last – you can’t raise your game when you’re already at the summit.

In three Roses matches against Lancashire, traditionally Yorkshire’s biggest fixtures, Lehmann hit a hundred in each of the first-class games and a mere 92 in a one-day game (off 69 balls). In a match against Kent, Lehmann came to the crease at 34-4 and promptly hit 193. In the return fixture he hit 172 out of Yorkshire’s total of 310. The next highest scorer was Anthony McGrath with 41.

This is all in one season. Oh no, wait – there’s more. In the final match of the season, his final match for Yorkshire, with the whole county desperate for him to get a hundred, he did. In fact once he passed 100, he felt okay, so he got another. And another. His final innings for Yorkshire was 339. He’d hit three sixes and 52 fours.

So when he turns out for South Australia on Friday in the Pura Cup, it might be worth keeping an eye on him. Lightning never strikes twice in the same place, but lightning has nothing to do with scoring runs in first-class cricket. So far Darren Lehmann’s proved that you can score a first-class run 25,628 times.

The man’s a machine. A big, bald, lardy, run-scoring machine.

Darren Lehmann posts from the past – some are quite good. We like the one where we say: “How much more better could he be? The answer, of course, is ‘none’. None more better…”

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