Great to see some inter-generational cricketing warfare erupt across the Tasman. General Ricky Ponting has metaphorically scooped up fellow number 3 batsman Admiral Neil Harvey and verbally DDT’d him a la Jake the Snake* after the old-timer unleashed another volley of criticism at the Lucky Country’s contemporary cricket and cricketers. Ponting said:
…Neil Harvey seems to be the hardest man in the world to please where modern cricket is concerned. He’s also the first one that any journalist around Australia would ring because they know he is going to give a negative reaction to this team. And to tell the truth there is no one in our current team, and I don’t think there’s too many around Australia that actually sit back and listen to what Neil Harvey has got to say.
That’s a pretty tragic state of affairs, and an irretrievable relationship breakdown most certainly. A quick squizz at the history book shows that - and it pains me to say it: Richard Ponting may well be right on this one. Harvey seems to be one of those commentators that has a knack for making every quote sound like it has emerged from the mouth of a bulldog chewing a lemon-flavoured wasp. Highlights from the piehole of Mr R N Harvey over the years have included:
- 6200 Test runs at 45+ between them, but they’re rubbish!
“I don’t think Lehmann was ever a Test player and Martyn has failed far too often. They are both over the hill and must be removed before it’s too late. There are a number of young players and they should be given their chances.”
- On the extraordinary Ashes win at the Adelaide Oval, conveniently overlooking the fact Australia also took 9/70 in the first two sessions of the last day
: “It just scrapes into my top ten test victories of all time. In 1948, my team had to make 400-odd on the last day and achieved it with 15 minutes to spare. How does that compare to making 160?”
- Possibly not at #3 but is this fair?
“Ricky Ponting wouldn’t have gotten a game in the Invincibles.”
- Disappointing for us to be keeping this company:
“There are some inflated figures that have been flying around, both batting and bowling, these last few years, because they’re playing against teams like Zimbabwe and Bangladesh and New Zealand, who you have to say are very poor cricket teams.”
- Back in his day…“
See, you go back to the past and you’ve got to remember that the past players played under uncovered wickets, whereas these guys who play out here are a little bit spoilt in my opinion. They play on flat wickets all the time and they grizzle if the ball does a little bit off the pitch, and whatever. But we had to put up with that.”
- On Steve Waugh’s swashbuckling 77 in the 4th Ashes Test at the MCG
: “Knowing the bloke he is, I suppose he went out there fully determined to do something about all the pressure he’s been getting in the last couple of weeks and he’s fortunate I suppose, he’s playing against probably one of the worst cricket teams I’ve ever seen and the two openers, of course, have given him a great start to sap away the bowler’s confidence and he went out there with a job I would suppose would be a little easier to do than normally would be done.”
- On the Waugh twins, a common target of his vitriol:
“Money is the only thing that keeps them playing. If they earned the same money as I did when I was playing they’d have retired at 34 as I did, and Australian cricket would be the better for it.”
- On whether Steve Waugh’s record-breaking Australian team was the best ever?
” No, they’re not, no, far from it. I could name three other teams that are probably better than this one and they get carried away with the strength of the opposition these days…the ‘48 team is one obviously, and I would name the ‘58 team of Benaud’s, and the ‘72 team of Ian Chappell’s… See the current lot have, in my opinion, have got two weaknesses…they haven’t got an all-rounder for a start and they also haven’t got an opening batsman. They’ve gone back to Hayden again.”
It is a little sad when all you can do as an ex-player is stick the knife in and slash away like a mad butcher whenever you’re asked a question about the current team. Call it as you see it, sure, but relentlessly washing your old school bitterness over today’s generation of players just undermines your standing as one of the greatest cricketers of all-time. Methinks Neil should abandon the rent-a-potshot and stick to tupperware, kitchen and cosmetics - the trades he has plied for decades.
So if Neil Harvey is the Australian personification of cricket’s rent-a-quote, who is the New Zealand version: Martin Crowe? Warren Lees? John Morrison? Ian Smith? Mark Richardson? Simon Doull? I’m not sure…
And last up, take a look at the second photo in this posting: the one with the shattered stumps. A CHOCOLATE FISH to the first person who can identify (i) the Aussie batsman, (ii) the Kiwi bowler and (iii) the Test match venue… Discuss.