Father and son ought to have a chat

In Hussain junior's column in a British Sunday newspaper the captain offers the thought: "Perhaps it would be better if we lost 5-0." Perhaps it is time father and son had a chat.


JANUARY 13. Joe Hussain, father of Nasser, thinks he knows what will be happening if England lose the Test series 5-0. "I can't be 100 per cent sure, but I believe had England lost 5-0 then they would be looking for a new captain." Who? Nasser says that it is too much of a burden for Michael Vaughan or Marcus Trescothick at this stage of their careers and says older players ought to get the job. Who? I ask again. Mark Butcher was not completely at ease when he tried, Graham Thorpe looked uncomfortable and when injury kept Hussain out of the Ashes matches 18 months ago the selectors turned back to Mike Atherton. So I ask who? It may be another reason Hussain decided to hold on to the job. Or, to put it another way, is Joe Hussain right in his estimate? In Hussain junior's column in a British Sunday newspaper the captain offers the thought: "Perhaps it would be better if we lost 5-0." Perhaps it is time father and son had a chat.

January 14. As we walk the streets of Sydney we see many strange notices, a consequence of the ethnic mix, all part of the city's charm. Deep in Chinatown are two signs side by side. One says "Post no Bills" and the other "Bill no Posters." A strange form of Chinglese perhaps. This is also the country where one newspaper says — of one of the most infamous men in history - "Hilter not born in Austria". We may see a story headlined "Bradman batting records faked" at any time!

January 15. Australia qualify for the finals of the tri-series — and Murali hurts his quadriceps so badly there are worries about his World Cup place — with three qualifying games still to play. Still, the main talking point in Brisbane is the decision by the England and Wales Cricket Board to carry on with their World Cup tie in Harare. Their chief executive Tim Lamb says: "As I think is widely recognised, the ECB Management Board has been confronted with an extremely difficult situation, not of our own making. We are not, of course, immune to, or unaware of, what is happening in the wider world, but we do not believe that it is our role to make subjective moral judgements about the various regimes in the different cricket-playing nations. These are matters for elected Governments to consider and take a decisive and early lead." He says it was "perverse and inequitable" to expect the ECB to make a symbolic gesture by boycotting the match in Harare and adds: "There are so many more meaningful ways in which the British Government, the Commonwealth and the international community could express its displeasure at what is happening in Zimbabwe." Mr. Lamb — actually he is the Hon. Timothy Lamb — also reaffirms the Board's determination to deny the Mugabe regime any opportunity to exploit the England team's presence in Harare. "We will not take part in any ceremonial activities that could imply support for the regime or be used as a propaganda platform." he said. Interesting thought, Tim. I wonder how the ECB propose to "deny the Mugabe regime any opportunity to exploit the England team's presence in Harare." He is president of the national board, he just lives round the corner, he is a member of the Harare Cricket Club and he is the most powerful politician in the country's turbulent history. If the players were instructed to refuse to shake hands with President Mugabe that would be a political statement as much as if they told their players to kiss him on both cheeks every time they met him. And they should not think that they will outwit the man easily. If he has stayed in power in Zimbabwe for 23 years he will have enough political savvy to cope with whatever the ECB can throw in his direction. I am sorry to say they have been outwitted by the British government, the organisers of the World Cup and it looks as if they will be left for dead by Mr. Mugabe too.

January 16. It's an exciting time for the Marsh family in various parts of the world at the moment. Geoff, who used to open the Australian innings with Mark Taylor, is coach to the Zimbabwe team and at the centre of the storm over the World Cup matches and life is probably exciting in all the wrong ways for him. But his son Shaun is one of the most promising young batsmen in Western Australia and his daughter Melissa is tipped as one of the leading contenders for the Women's National Basketball League's Rookie of the Year competition. She hopes to play in the Olympic Games next time round, of course Shaun wants a place in the Australian side and Geoff must be hoping against hope that he can avoid unpleasantness during the next few weeks of the World Cup. At least he will have the support of Melissa and her mother Michelle who will join Geoff as he guides Zimbabwe through the Cup.

January 17. I hardly knew the name of Max Mosley until a few days ago but I'm beginning to like this president of the Formula One racing body. He came out today with a whole raft of new regulations that take the technology out of the sport and put the driver back in charge. No more automatic gear boxes, no more radio communications between team and driver and no spare car. He has given the manufacturers six weeks to get their ideas into practice. "It's back to basics," he says, arguing that the firms with money are putting the little guys out of F1 racing. Can you see that happening in cricket? Wake up in England in about a month's time and discover there are no more third umpires, no more speed guns and don't even think about radio chats between coach and captain. I can see the desire to move back to a bygone age; but with six weeks' notice. Never in this world.

January 18. There is only one subject left uncovered in the Code of Conduct which has been required reading for those of us who have been dealing with the Darren Lehmann case for the past several days. What about gender abuse? It is never mentioned in the Code which deals with every other aspect of modern living. There is a catch-all clause which talks about bringing the game into disrepute but if cricket wants to overtake the ideas current in the 21st century they will have to take notice of the specific words and phrases which are often used by modern man but which are anathema to the architects of political correctness. In the days when the promotion of women's' cricket is a major concern for the various national bodies, isn't it time they gave the game's girls some formal consideration?

January 19. I know that many fast bowlers are considered to be below par in the brain stakes but most of them can spell their own names. Not apparently Glenn — or should it be Glen — McGrath. As long as he has been a member of various Australian Test and one-day teams he spells his first name as Glenn. It is still spelt that way many times in the official Australian Cricket Board booklet handed to all us media types as soon as we arrive in this country — so that we don't get the spelling of such giants' names wrong. But on a prize bat offered by Channel Nine his name is signed Glen.

How strange. Is the great man concentrating too hard on bowling short of a length on off stump to bother about trivialities such as correct spelling? Or is his name inscribed by some handwriting expert who does not care too much about how many characters there are in anyone's name? I suspect that the Glen comes from someone other than Glenn McGrath. Martyn Moxon, the Yorkshire and England opening batsman, picks up a sponsored car a few years ago and discovers he is Martin. A quick paint job soon puts that right. Meanwhile Glenn McGrath is Glen McGrath on the prize bat throughout the current season.