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The explanation for the calamity


In 1985, the Australian cricket team was so bad that it lost two test series to New Zealand in the same season. Appalled by this, the powers running Australian cricket set up a comprehensive set of reforms to the way the game and the national team was run. One of these reforms was the establishment in Adelaide of a “Cricket Academy” in which promising, potential future test players could receive coaching and training to complete their development as international cricketers. Good coaches and staff were hired, and the academy was one of the explanations given for the rise of the world beating Australian team of the 1980s and 1990s.

Shortly after this, the local tourist board in Adelaide discovered a curious phenomenon. Visitors to Adelaide would state that they wanted to see “The Cricket Academy”. Apparently they expected to see buildings, pitches, nets, and a sign at the gate saying “Australian Institute of Sport: Cricket Academy” or some such. As it happened, there were no such premises. The cricket academy used rented and borrowed nets, grounds, and other facilities. The emphasis was on the training.

However, in 2004, the academy relocated to Brisbane, was renamed as the “Cricket Australia Centre of Excellence”, and a new, $26 million dollar headquarters was commissioned: a “state-of-the-art athlete development centre that will integrate science, technology and coaching to enhance both development of athletes and the understanding of skill development and performance in the sport”.

All is explained.

13 comments to The explanation for the calamity

  • Why is losing a cricket game a calamity? 😉

  • You have to be an Australian to understand.

  • J.M. Heinrichs

    Why is ‘being’ Australian the key to understanding?


  • Bruce

    Edifice Complex?

  • Ocker Bill

    Why is ‘being’ Australian the key to understanding?

    I’d tell you, cobber, but unless you’re Australian, you wouldn’t understand 😛

  • RAB

    An Innings and 157 runs?

    That’s why the Aussies are pissed off.

    They have been humiliated, not even the full five days got played.

    We whupped them for a change, Yippiee!

  • Oh, I think I get it:

    The Aussies, but even more the Brits, are utter failures at sports that are popular around the world, and so trumpet their success at sports that are popular only in a tiny number of British Commonwealth member states. :-p

    As much as people complain about American sporting jingoism, I find Aussie sporting jingoism somewhat worse; the Canadian variety worse still (because they’re so obsessed with being better than the Americans), and British jingoism the worst of all. As a tennis fan, I always enjoy watching Andy Murray fail. 🙂

  • James Waterton

    Ted: whilst I don’t really have a dog in this fight, as…well…I don’t give a rat’s about sport, you are nevertheless in need of an urgent FYI. Cricket is arguably the second most popular sport in the world. If not the second, certainly the third.

    Oh, and tennis is waaaay down the list.

  • Samizdata readers may like to know that they can now read that piece of writing by Professor C. Northcote Parkinson about the edifice complex that I keep referring to here.

  • Ted Schuerzinger

    Every time Michael Jennings or I write about cricket you make your little jokes about how numerically insignificant you imagine cricket to be. You have already been corrected, by James Waterton, on the facts. But you also need to be corrected on the purpose and point of these cricket postings (I am now working on another). Neither Michael nor I expect you or any one else to share our love of cricket. I know that you for one do not, and I’m sure that’s true for many of our other readers. Fine.

    The point is that sport is, for many, a big part of life, and in particular a big part of the fun of life. It is, or should be, entirely voluntary, and it mostly is, at any rate among adults. It is also, at its best, a wonderful snub to politicians, many of whom seem to yearn to live in a world where only they and their doings and opinions and performances will arouse such passions as sport actually does arouse. A posting that reveals passion about sport, any sport, on a blog that is supposed only to be “political” (like this one) is a standing rebuke to all such politicians. Good.

    And sport, at its worst, can link up to politics in all sorts of bad ways. Hitler, Olympic Games, etc.

    Sport therefore impinges on the central Samizdata agenda in all sorts of ways, obvious and quite subtle.

    Sport is a rich arena to observe many universal truths about the human condition. It tells us about character, leadership, success, failure, and the human qualities of those reacting to success and failure. That so much of the drama happens in public view, often cruelly public view, only adds to the drama.

    In the case of this posting, a particular sporting circumstance tells us about the tendency of people to try to fend off looming institutional failure by indulging in new buildings, and about the fact that such new buildings seldom do much good and tend to do harm. That lesson applies to many activities beyond sport.

    So, please stop reacting to postings about cricket happenings by reading them only as the claim that cricket is somehow superior to, I don’t know, American football or baseball. And stop pretending that you don’t understand why a sporting disappointment can’t feel like a calamity. Read our cricket postings and reflect on similar circumstances in sports that you do care about. And reflect on what all sport might tell you about being a human being, should you choose to let it.

    I know you are probably only kidding around, and maybe you do not need to be lead by the hand through arguments that strike me as pretty obvious. But frankly, it is starting to piss me off how everything that ever gets written here about sport tends to provoke a comment thread which is only about which sport is better, when the real point, as often as not, is what the particular sporting circumstance in question says about something that might be of far wider interest.

  • Johnathan Pearce

    Well said, Brian. Anti-sports bores are a bit like those characters who get all upset and irrritated by Dale Amon’s space postings. They can just fuck off.

    One of the most gratifying things about this series is how England recovered after being badly beaten in Perth.

    Overall, England are the better team and I hope it can emphatically win in Sydney. Strauss is not arguably a brilliant captain but he has been very solid. I have been very impressed by the likes of Cook, Anderson and Tremlett.

    Australians should not be too despondent. They did win well in Perth and in Hussey, for example, have a superb player. What the Aussies need is consistency.

    It is not as if Australia is at risk of “doing a West Indies” – sliding into insignificance.

  • Ian F4

    The edifice complex reminds me of London football club West Ham and their Academy of Football, which has been consistently churning out quality players despite running on a limited budget with the club in almost constant financial difficulties and jumping in and out of the top two divisions.

    Their generation of top premiership players is way in advance of other richer clubs which contribute huge amounts of money and shiny sports centres. The tragedy of West Ham is they never get to keep their quality players and they end up just being a income earner to keep the club afloat, saying that, the day they do get success and the cash to go with it and blow it all on a shiny new Academy centre is probably the day the Academy will “fade and die”, and English Football will be worse off without it.

  • J.M. Heinrichs

    Just for Ted:
    1. Football- imported from Canada.
    2. Baseball- Concurrent both sides of border as a derivative of ’rounders’.
    3. Basketball- imported from Canada.
    4. Hockey- imported from Canada.
    5. Vince Lombardi Trophy- copied from the Grey Cup.
    6. Tennis- a French game.