Cape Town Capitulation Sounds the Bell For Former Skip Rick
Ricky, it’s been a hoot. But seriously mate, you were never one for walking and it’s not about to start now. And if Lord’s famed Old Father Time hasn’t been kind enough to tap you on the shoulder and give you a knowing wink then it’s time for a gentle shove.
Now I know you’re been spouting the “I’ll know when the time is right” routine but if your Cape Town quacker and the fact you haven’t posted 3 figures in almost 2 years doesn’t drop the penny then Rod ‘Bacchus’ Marsh & Mr Bichel might have to be the ones to do the dropping.
Don’t get me wrong, I’ve been there since the start and I’ve loved every second. The raw talent that you exuded as a 21 year old who marched out with purpose against Sri Lanka at the WACA, each step a little cockier than the last. First time in the baggy green, swagger to burn and a perfectly manicured goatee on a Napoleon frame.
The Aussies were already on top courtesy of a Slater double tonne, but you followed it up with a very memorable knock. You had the kind of luck a Punter needs with first slip grassing your first ball in Test cricket, which was bowled by Murali of all people, but from there on out you were class off both the front and back foot. In fact, you were only robbed of a century on debut by a farcical umpiring decision by Khizer Hayat.
With that innings, you showed us that the kid from Launceston they called Punter had arrived on the test stage and if ever there was a nickname that would endear itself to the average Australian male sports-fiend it was yours.
We smirked with a certain pride when you sat down sporting the shiner following a dust up at one of King’s Cross’ more classier establishments. That smirk soon turned to laughter when we found out what that scuffle was really about, but our appreciation of your on field talents never wavered.
Because regardless of what happened when you were out on the sauce, out in the middle it’s been a virtual 15 year runfest. Sure you had a few ups and downs but show me a batsman that hasn’t.
The control you had over that Kookaburra put Bill Lawry and his pigeons to shame. So many highlights it’s hard to know where to start. A hundred in both innings of your hundredth test is tough to top on a poetic front.
Many would say your captaincy was steeped in controversy but one thing is for sure, you knew where the jugular was.
And thanks largely to the current competitive climate of international cricket and to a lesser extent the changing of Mother Nature’s climate, those 16 wins on the trot as Captain (shared by you and Tugga) will no doubt sit in the history books for some time to come.
You managed to astound us with bat in hand, but also regularly in the field. That catch from the blade of Dippenaar off the bowling of McGrath is one that is permanently burnt into the memory as the ball had seemingly reached the boundary when you took the catch at gully. If your exploits at slip weren’t enough, you even managed to, very occasionally, impress us with the ball. Removing the England captain, Michael Vaughan, in an Ashes Test with a classy caught behind is more than many bowlers can lay claim to.
But now it has come to this. Concerning the capitulation in Capetown – it cannot merely be swept off the pitch. It is time for the heavy roller. Given the recent cricket events played out in the courts as opposed to at the crease, it must be said that if Pakistan had played an innings like that then the News of The World would be digging faster than Ben Johnson’s pet rabbit.
It wasn’t just the fact you got out, it was how you got out. You walked across your stumps, not with the purposeful confidence we saw from you in your younger days, but more like a wandering pensioner who’s forgotten the way home. Although in this case it is certainly not you alone who should take the rap. With the team’s back to the wall, we were expecting the experienced players to step up. After all, that’s why you’re there. But between you, your bridge partner Hussey and your knitting buddy Brad, all we got was enough ducks to open a French restaurant.
We weren’t crying out for centuries (although the SA top order made it looks doable) but a run for every year of life from the old guard would have plugged a leaky ship and sailed us to a commanding position. Instead you decides to go for a walk, Mr Cricket slashed at a wide one and in a semi-demented state, Brad Haddin thought he was back in the purple pyjamas of the Kolkata Knight Riders and tried to clear the fence. All that ‘experience’ on the cricket field, 106 years of life between the three of you and not a single bl000dy run to show for it.
And just who was this Philanderer ripping through our top order? Sounds like more of a Wayne Carey type than a lethal fast bowler. There couldn’t have been that much in the deck given that Shane ‘Elementary’ Watson’s ability to skittle them like Jesus Quintana taking to a set of pins. That creep can roll man.
All good things come to an end Rick and it’s time you hung up your gloves and threw down your protector – preferably in the opposite direction to your flat screen TV. It’s not like you haven’t had chances to step aside gracefully. The century you made in the quarterfinal of the last world cup would have been perfect time to call it quits. Granted, we weren’t victors that day but it was one gutsy innings which defied the critics and made a nation proud.
The love, until now, has bordered on unconditional. We’ve looked beyond the fact your from Tasmania and embraced you as the captain of our mainland side. We’ve looked beyond the fact you’ve been caught out hooking more times than Warrick Todd. More recently, we’ve looked beyond the fact you took time out from test cricket to rush home for your daughter’s birth, which would have been fine had you not just come off a near 8 month break from test match cricket. Surely you could have sneaked one between Rihanna’s bat and pad a few months before you did and avoided the conflicting schedule. I am maybe boarding on insensitive here, but this sort of slander pales in comparison to the grief you’ve handed out from the slips cordon over the years which, I might add, we’ve also looked beyond.
But watching you lead implosion in South Africa was the icing on an 18 month old cake made of anything but convincing stroke play. The time is now Ricky.
Raise you bat, ride into the Bellerive sunset, hell, even join Plastic Keithy in the Big Bash if your heart desires. But I’m afraid your days in the Baggy Green are soon over.