Graham Thorpe

England’s nuggety middle order batsman shares his unbridled expertise in cricketing clichés

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Regular readers of this column will know how highly I regard England spinner Graeme Swann. Swanny’s been on the circuit for years and has honed his craft to perfection – it’s as simple as that, no question. But you have to question his decision to clamber behind the wheel following a skinfull just after Christmas, for sure. I mean, what was he thinking? For sure, international cricket is intense and it’s natural for any player to want to unwind – that is not in question. I don’t begrudge any young cricketer having a few beers after a game – it’s all part of the camradcamracamor … spirit of being in a happy and successful unit. And don’t get me wrong – that’s important, without doubt. I’ve got a lot of respect for the Swann-ster and I know he can put this behind him and bounce back – he simply cannot let this affect his performances on the field, it’s as simple as that. I’m telling you, he has learnt a valuable lesson here – and that’s a fact.

I have to say I’ve lost a lot of respect for the Swann-meister following this incident, although I still think he’s a wholehearted and gutsy performer who deserves a lot of respect. And that’s the truth of the matter, let there be no doubt. For what it’s worth, my opinion is that copious drinking is fine, and a cracking way to get to know your teammates and opponents better in my opinion. In my opinion it’s a great ice-breaker, no doubt. But driving immediately afterwards is a bad thing and there are NO EXCUSES for it, apart from in genuine emergencies, such as rushing your mum to hospital or re-parking in order to allow your mate to move his Jag out of the pub car park. Other than that, it is ZERO TOLERANCE from me – simple as. Young Swann-o would receive shrot shirftshort shiftshrort shrift … an angry glare if he got his car keys out down my local after 6 pints – make no mistake about it. Unless he had a bloody good reason for it, such as showing his mates his new stereo unit or indulging in relations of the carnal variety with one of his fans. Otherwise, he can take a running jump as far as I’m concerned – for definite.

Now I don’t wish to dwell on G-Man’s misdemeanours, as he’s a top bloke and quality cricketer, no question, and I understand that life on the cricketing circuit these days can be tough – that much is understood. But what I don’t understand is how come he didn’t just order a taxi? Or at least leave it half an hour and buy a bag of chips to soak up the alcohol BEFORE he even THOUGHT about getting in that car – truth be told, it was an act of lunacy, pure and simple. Without wishing to dwell on this sorry matter any further, I just hope this doesn’t adversely affect GS’s chances in the upcoming Ashes series this winter – England need their premier spinner firing on all cylinders come the Brisbane test this winter, and that’s a fact, no question of a doubt whatsoever. What the lad DOESN’T need is for this incident to weigh on his mind throughout that series, as this would be the last thing he’d need – that’s for certain. What I’m saying is that the Aussies will be looking to capitalise in any way possible – make no mistake. The Aussies are a filthy bunch of convicts who would use any underhand means available to undermine their opposition – and they will be smarting from last year’s Ashes defeat for sure, no doubt about it. The best thing G-Dogg can do is to keep his head, and keep his head down and concentrate on letting the ball do the talking – in the end, it’s wickets that talk, and the G-Unit needs to let his wickets do the talking, that’s for certain.

At the end of the day, Ponting & Co. will be armed and ready for battle – question is, will Swann be able to stay off the wagon long enough to make a meaningful impact on this series? That’s the question, without question…

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