It’s the offseason, so HPN thought we’d branch out a bit while the AFL world is slowing down. Here’s the first of our cricket articles of the year.
Summer has barely started, but the Australian Cricket Team has seemingly already lost the faith (but gained the attention) of the general cricketing public, with repeated collapses against a strong South African bowling attack. To attempt to remedy the situation the chairman of selectors, and chief Marsh advocate, Rod Marsh has already fallen on his sword, and several changes are afoot.
But maybe the answer is simpler than all of this. Maybe the answer is… turtles.
David Warner is among Australia’s best two batsmen right now, and possibly even the best on raw talent. However, for a fair period of his career, he was considered a slight disappointment at Test level. In the middle of 2013 his Test career hit a cross roads – averaging just 28 for the year in the longer form, and suspended from the team for taking a swing at Joe Root at the Walkabout bar in England. It was just after this (one day after uprooting Joe) that Warner truly embraced the turtle, and found his form.
Warner was sent to tour Africa with Australia A, and started to find his form again. Recalled for the last three tests of the 2013 UK Ashes, Warner was slow to find his feet but the signs were there. It’s after this that Warner started to poke his head out of his shell.
By the time the return Ashes series began, Warner was neck deep in turtle love. And the stats showed the full story:
Warner’s form turnaround mirrored that of the wider Australian side, as they wiped the floor with the English. After losing the series in the UK 3-0, Australia swept England 5-0 with Warner leading the way as top runscorer for the series. The turtles had done their job. Warner followed this up with a fantastic series against South Africa, no doubt still buoyed by the turtle love in his veins.
Our research shows that Warner has tweeted about turtles 12 times in his Test career. The major period of his turtle activity is June 2013 to August 2014 – which strongly correlates with the peak of his Test career to date. Since then he has just made one turtle tweet, about Usman Khawaja’s TNMT t-shirt:
This photo came just before Australia’s domination of NZ in NZ, and was arguably the making of Khawaja’s Test career. Despite this, Warner himself had a relatively weak series, presumably because at this stage it was no longer himself expressing his love of turtles, but simply Khawaja. Warner, for reasons we can only guess at, experienced a decline in form as well as in desire to publicly proclaim love for turtles.
The turtles are necessary to the form; to that there is no doubt.
We are of course being somewhat facetious here, but perhaps there’s an underlying point worth making. Warner, like the rest of society, seems to produce better results when he is happy and enjoying life. For him, this means displaying his mad turtle affection. A team worn down by near constant touring and recent failure could do worse than to rally around the symbol of their enfant terrible. And as far as HPN knows no national sporting team is nicknamed the Turtles.
The turtle/tortoise might also be a good metaphor for success in modern cricket; in that success sometimes takes time. Rarely does a player come out of first class levels ready to succeed at the highest level. Often they need to acclimatise to the surrounding and fully come out of their shell. Whilst changes will likely have to be made, the virtue of patience should be at the forefront when making them. Some players will fail at Test level where they saw success in the Shield; but that’s not often known for a while after their debut. If Head or Bancroft or Patterson or Dean is called up for the final South African Test, maybe the sporting public is best to let them prove their worth before calling for their heads.
And Warner should show them the power of the turtle before it is too late.