So it’s likely that Inzamam failed to stop some of his players from taliking to the bookmakers and Dravid couldn’t motivate an ageing Indian team. One apparently deeply divided along the lines of caste and privilege. By comparison, Vaughan’s problems seem pretty mundane. Uniting a team divided along the lines of drinkers and the sensible, albeit lustreless majority. The issue of drinking readily identifiable to cricketers at a more parochial level. A captain of mine dealt with problems beyond the brief of any national captain. In the days when licensing laws meant three hours drinking in the day time – he could sniff out a boozer that served out of hours as readily as any truffle hunting pig.
Rained off in the depths of rural Wiltshire this man found us a pub that served all day. In we went, all the heads pivoted our way. Toothless mouth breathers some of them and visions of Straw Dogs and Deliverance bouncing around in my head. All these stares coming towards us. Apart from one man, perched precariously on a stool. Swaying this way and that, a lonesome pine about to fall. Like a scene shot in slow motion, backwards off the stool he went. Head crashing into the flagstone floor and making the noise that a cricket ball makes when coming off the sweet spot of the bat. No one took a blind bit of notice, the poor man’s eyes were rolled somewhere around the back of his head and blood trickled from one of his ears.
Now this is where the black art of captaincy comes into it’s own. Assessing the situation in a thrice, our captain strode up to the bar and looked the landlord in the eye, ‘We’ll have four pints of whatever he’s drinking please.’
Priceless … international captaincy? A doddle!