Cricket: Phoo-phoo bird may yet be circling

By Anendra Singh

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In my first year at university, an arts professor made a nuclear class of about a dozen students at the theatre go through a ritual he did with everyone who attended his lectures.

"Please draw, very lovingly, anything you love and treasure dearly. Treat it like it's going to be good enough to hang on the wall of your lounge at home," the bearded one said.

Looking at each other with a grin, off we went laboriously sketching and colouring in our babies, amused that at a tertiary institution someone would ask us to waste our time drawing something totally irrelevant for a good part of a 40-minute session.

At about the half-an-hour mark, the professor asked us to stop work. He went around to each student and collected their artwork. Keeping a fixed smile on his face he thanked everyone and stacked them in a pile in his hand without so much as even glancing at our "treasured" creations.

He casually walked back to the lectern, screwed up each artwork into a ball of rubbish and nonchalantly chucked them into a wastepaper basket an arm's throw away amid groans that graduated to collective howls of protest.

"What? Are you people unhappy?" he asked rhetorically. "Well, that's what it feels like when someone tries to trivialise something you consider to be an integral part of your life."

The professor then proceeded to outline what he called the "phoo-phoo bird" phenomenon.

That is, the phoo-phoo bird ascending in a circular motion towards the sky until the speck eventually disappears into its own backside.

The moral of that exercise and story, which still resonates with me, is that when it comes to mob rule, marginalising an individual's emotions and views doesn't necessarily make it right or acceptable. Conversely wallowing in one's self-importance can't be too healthy, either.

Consequently the Ross Taylor and Brendon McCullum saga makes an interesting case study of human behaviour in not only a sporting context but of life microcosmically speaking.

The bottom line is the tribe had spoken vociferously that Taylor was inept as a leader and, consequently, the Black Caps were wallowing in the culture of the petri dish of mediocrity.

Having made residual gains with historic victories against Australia and Sri Lanka, Taylor obviously begged to differ.

Bosom pal McCullum, wanting the stripes real bad, had no qualms about stepping up when coach Mike Hesson and the New Zealand Cricket board unceremoniously knifed Taylor in the back.

I mean, come on, the bloke had got gut-wrenching news from home not long before that that his paternal grandmother had died but, no, the coup leaders just couldn't resist twisting the knife in a little bit deeper.

Let the man grieve and exorcise his demons before returning on his own terms. Any hogwash about doing what's right for the team and country is tantamount to desperation.

How can you return to a team environment that didn't think much of you as a leader. Perhaps a squad member, on retiring, will some day publish a book outlining the extent of skulduggery that prevailed during his reign.

Did his troops underperform to prove a point, akin to a fielder conspiring with others at age-group level to drop catches off a bowler they loathe?

Cricket is, and always will be, a selfishly individual sport cross-dressing in team's threads.

As for McCullum, it's a case of be careful what you wish for.

He got to the helm of the ship in turbulent waters and steered it right into the iceberg.

Yes, the T20 victory was always going to be a lottery (or did South Africa let their guard down to ensure a good turnout for the final game of the series?).

The McCullum experiment is over. In just his first post-Taylor-dumping test match - and that's where a skipper's mettle is truly tested - Macca and those in cahoots showed why initially not appointing him captain made perfect sense.

Sending out an SOS to Taylor, Ryder and Vettori is a lucky dip. Dumping Martin Guptill - 1 run and a duck - or Doug Bracewell is myopic because he's as good as we get. Blaming John Buchanan and any other Ocker within sight and injecting ex-internationals on the board will be equally futile because if it was that easy we wouldn't be in such a mess.

The test now is to ensure the phoo-phoo bird doesn't start circling again.

- Hawkes Bay Today

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