We always do our best to keep you updated on the exact whereabouts of “the line,” according to its official custodians, the Australia cricket team.
In news that will be hugely reassuring to everyone, Australia’s new captain and coach say that they are well aware of the location of the mythical “line” and have revealed that it is currently what separates “banter” from “abuse”.
Justin Langer said: “If I play Uno with my daughter there’s lots of banter. We sort of sledge each other, but we don’t abuse each other.”
Justin Langer’s daughter may know the difference between banter and abuse but it’s been a blurry divide for some Australian cricketers in the recent past – just as the difference between “cheating” and “not cheating” has at times escaped them.
Fortunately, captain Tim Paine can reassure us all.
“We know what’s right and what’s wrong, so it’s pretty simple.”
Well that’s a relief.
This isn’t specifically about Joe Denly. He’s just the example. It’s about being a young English cricketer and what you have to do to play for the national side. It’s also about Australia’s wicketkeeper, Tim Paine.
Paine and Denly are just starting their careers and have been opening the batting for their respective nations in the one-day series between England and Australia. Paine hit one hundred and one fifty in seven innings. Denly hit two fifties in five innings.
Honours pretty much even – Paine perhaps slightly ahead – but it shouldn’t really be like that. Paine is a wicketkeeper primarily and arguably Australia’s fourth choice in that position. Denly is a specialist batsman and has been identified as a key player for the future.
How do young cricketers make themselves known? They do it through consistent, solid performance, don’t they?
Do they balls. Not in England anyway.
There are 18 first-class counties playing every week, so there are about a hundred batsmen fighting for column inches in newspapers that have half a page at most devoted to county cricket. One 95-ball hundred on a flat track is far more likely to get you a mention than three consecutive fifties on difficult pitches.
If you can make some noise by playing such an innings, then you’ve got to go for it. If you fail, it doesn’t matter because there’s always the next match. This season, Joe Denly’s Kent side will have played 16 first-class matches, eight 50-over matches, 12 Twenty20 matches and eight 40-over matches.
In contrast, Paine’s side, Tasmania, have 10 first-class matches, 10 50-over matches and five Twenty20 matches next season. There isn’t always another chance for Paine and even if there were, he doesn’t need to make a name for himself in the same way as Denly. There are only six first-class sides in Australia, so you don’t need occasional exceptional performances to get noticed. Consistency is noted.
So our two points, which are closely linked, are:
Neither makes for good preparation for international cricket.