Brand Blunder #87: Cricket Council caught out

It’s entirely fitting* that Brand Blunder #87 be about the game of cricket.   Even though much of the terminology I’ll need to report it will be incomprehensible to those unfamiliar with the sport’s delightful eccentricities…

The Ashes** Series between the English and Australian Test*** Cricket Teams is a quadrennial highlight for the sport.   So, when the olde foes faced off against each other at The Gabba**** last week, the International Cricket Council (ICC) and its sponsors hoped the focus would be firmly on the engrossing sporting encounter to come.

Alas, it was not to be.  Instead, sporting headlines were dominated by the news that an Australian player, Cameron Bancroft, had been headbutted by England’s wicket keeper***** Jonny Bairstow in a Perth bar prior to the match.

For a sport rooted in the highest principles of ethical sportsmanship, reports of violence – on or off field – are a particular blow (no pun intended).  But the English Cricket Board only compounded concerns when it failed to ensure the allegations were addressed immediately, instead announcing it would “follow up … after the Brisbane Test”.

Predictably, the yawning vacuum of factual information was filled by a social media conflagration of speculation and accusation, all the way through to the end of the match.

And then, finally, the incident was to have been a storm in a teacup…

Addressing the matter in a post-match press conference, headbuttee Bancroft explained away with a laugh what actually took place.

“I don’t know Jonny Bairstow, but he says hello very differently to most others,” he said. “He greeted me with a headbutt kind of thing, I was expecting a handshake.

“There was certainly no malice in his action and we went on to have a very good conversation for the rest of the evening.”

With its newfound appreciation for what was revealed to be a minor incident, even the news media jumped aboard the newfound bonhomie.  One sports journalist even questioned the sporting characteristics of the headbutt – force, angle, and point of contact.

* Footnote: for those unfamiliar with cricket and its traditions, the number 87 is known as the “devil’s number”. Cricketing superstition holds that a batsman accumulating that score – only 13 away from a coveted “century” of 100 – is particularly vulnerable to losing their wicket.
** Footnote: the Ashes trophy refers to a satirical obituary in British newspaper The Sporting Times following Australia’s inaugural Test victory at The Oval in 1882. The obituary stated that English cricket had died, and “the body will be cremated and the ashes taken to Australia”.
*** Footnote: a Test Match is the longest form of cricket match, taking place over five days.  During that time, both teams bat and field twice each, known as “Innings”.
**** Footnote: The Gabba is the test cricket ground in Brisbane, Australia.
***** Footnote: A Wicket Keeper is the fielding side’s player who stands immediately behind the stumps****** to catch balls bowled by the fielding team.
****** Footnote: The stumps are the three upright posts which, topped by “the bails”, form the Wicket.  The Wicket … well, perhaps at this point it would be better if you just read the BBC’s explanation of the game of cricket 🙂

Image Credit: The Telegraph.

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