Cricket, Meet the Millennials


England’s turmoil in Australian is unmasking some good old crisis-induced cognitive dissonance. (Pace Stayte and thanks for the image)

Over at Cricinfo, England’s performance at Adelaide elicited a broadside from George Dobell listing factors that, in his opinion, have weakened English cricket.

He is especially harsh on even tries to sledge young cricketers, writing that, “The decision to rid the domestic scene of non-England-qualified players and offer young player incentives saw a generation of experienced professionals replaced by kids who should have been forced to work harder for a career in the game.” (TM’s underlining)

Yet there is general admiration for the way Joe Root handled Mitchell Johnson’s verbal as well as his physical assaults.

Fewer people seem to have noticed the similarly disarming stage yawn with which Ben Stokes countered Johnson’s histrionics and sent ‘the old man’ off on one.

Nothing you can do can ‘mentally disintegrate’ a person who, in terms of the cultural and social environment you and they have grown up in, is to all intents and purposes of a different genus.

You might as well try sledging a duck? Or a cow? Or a tortoise?

They just find you mildly amusing AND because the cultural and social environment that they inhabit – and to which you are a total stranger – is a world of Instagram and Snapchat where Messenger is as far back in time as Linear B there’s:

Nothing you can sing that can’t be sung.
Nothing you can say but you can learn how to play the game
It’s easy.
There’s nothing you can make that can’t be made.
No one you can save that can’t be saved.
Nothing you can do but you can learn how to be you
in time – It’s easy.

“Thank you John.”

You see, there’s a dividing line that runs roughly through 1990.  Anyone born before this is, as far as anyone born after it, FROM ANOTHER PLANET.

Cricket – Meet the Millennials.

They’re going to surprise you and, not just because of their imperviousness to antediluvian sledging, they are going to be fun to follow.

A CBS news feature reports, “The workplace has become a psychological battlefield and the millennials have the upper hand, because they are tech savvy, with every gadget imaginable almost becoming an extension of their bodies. They multitask, talk, walk, listen and type, and text. And their priorities are simple: they come first.”

In cricket, the Millennials have been coming up against overseas pros like Ol’ Man Johnson from the age of 14 in their premier leagues.  They have been playing with and against each other from the age of 11. The weak ones, the ones that couldn’t react with a rye ‘smile’ or impertinent ‘yawn’ or as one young lad did to huge effect: blow the big angry fast bowler a kiss; have already been weeded out.

Dobell underestimates the heat of the fire in which these young cricketers have been forged. Why should they flaunt it? Would they expect a duck, a cow or a tortoise to understand them?

The other thing that separates them from every cricketer that has gone before is not just their ways of relating to each other it is the different types of cricket they have had to learn to play: 5 day, 4 day, 3 day, 1 day and T20. For them cricket is a hoot-n-nanny of ever changing opportunities to experience delight. There is no fear – perpetual and unconditional parental approval has given them a rare freedom.

These changing formats also bring difficulties.  Their hands are low, they slap, they are often strangers to their ‘elbows’, they only know relatively light bats with massive sweet spots – their edges fly over the ropes – light bats? Well, look at their physiques.  They can wield a 2:10 with the same bat-speed and dexterity with which the great Zaheer Abbas flicked his 2:4. They could be quick – very quick – if the ducks and cows and tortoises give them their head – and the rotations they can put on the ball will make it turn on a billiard table.

That is why England cricket doesn’t need globe-trotting hacks from the paleolithic, Mr Dobell.  It needs to give these born entertainers space to learn and develop and take the game where no one born before 1985 can imagine,   (Look what those Millennials from Lancashire did in 2011?)

The nearest that fossils over 24 can get to it, is to imagine what it was like when they first heard the rest of those Lennon lyrics:

There’s nothing you can know that isn’t known.
Nothing you can see that isn’t shown.
Nowhere you can be that isn’t where you’re meant to be.
It’s easy.
All you need is love, all you need is love,
All you need is love, love, love is all you need.
All you need is love (all together now)
All you need is love (everybody)
All you need is love, love, love is all you need.

Johnson, Love is All You Need.



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4 responses to “Cricket, Meet the Millennials

  1. I rather enjoyed the way that Dobell suggested that Tymal Mills could not be selected for England because he only took 6 first-class wickets last season. How many matches did he play? The remark captures a very English mindset. It reflects the way that Saj Mahmood, Steven Finn and a whole host of other aspiring fast bowlers, including Devon Malcolm and Norman Cowans, have been managed out of Test cricket by various English selectors, coaches and managers.

    I suspect that Michael Holding, Wasim Akram and Waqar Younis did not even have 6 wickets under their belts when they made their Test debuts. Holding was 21 and was described as wild and erratic in his first Tests. However, within 9 months he was able to fire out 14 wickets on a dreadfully flat Oval pitch. What made the difference? Probably the lack of the English and county coaching set-up. Finn has gone backwards since 2010. The coaches tried to change Anderson’s action and caused a stress fracture. The result? He reverted from a guy capable of swinging the ball at 90 mph to someone who is marginally more accurate but who swings it at 80 mph. It seems to be the only kind of bowler they can accept.

  2. rusty

    It’s a nice argument but it looked like the old fogeys got under Stokes’ skin all too easily. I didn’t see him yawn. I saw him getting uptight and responding with similar verbals and aggro.

    I must have been watching a different Ashes.

    • Rusty, great to hear from you.

      You still watch matches? Very pre-Millennial 😉

      Johnson stats in the second innings might indicate that the young’uns got to him. After Cook: 23 overs seventy odd runs and 0 wickets.

      It is as if Millennials use mirrors not just to deflect attempts at mental disturbance, but to reflect the ‘rays’ back on the originator.

      The point is that these young players are not short or pluck nor of ‘the right stuff’ (because they have had things ‘easy’) – it just looks different because their ‘norms’ are different.

      It’s the deference that is missing. The due deference that ‘sledging’ requires in its target if it is to be effective.

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