CAPTAINS and coaches stand or fall by the deeds of others. You could be the greatest leader of men since Winston Churchill and the strategical equal of General 'Stormin' Norman Schwarzkopf but if the team do not reproduce it on the park you're dead in the water. Coaches and skippers who resign when the wheels are falling off are accorded respect while those that try and make running repairs are given time, in sport-speak, 'to turn things around'. There are others, though, who stick around like a bad smell and, to borrow a phrase from a headline-writer in the Philippines, 'fart against thunder'. French rugby coach Pierre Berbizier and England cricket captain Mike Atherton were doing exactly that after two ignominious defeats for their countries last week. It is difficult not to draw comparisons between Berbizier and countryman Napoleon. Victories over the All Blacks last summer had Berbizier puffing out his chest, walking as tall as a five-foot something former scrum-half can and talking about ruling the rugby world. But at least Napoleon knew when he met his Waterloo. Not so Berbizier. After England put the sacre into les bleus he forsook the normal 'sick as a parrot' style comments for Gallic guff. This was it: 'The English game has not changed. They start with their forwards as before and I did not see much else. I do not want a team that plays like them. At this moment in time, France have got more of a chance of being world champions than England. I remain convinced we can beat England.' Fair enough, his words may have lost a bit in the translation but the essence remains clear - he felt England sucked. There are a lot of rugby fans worldwide who would happily have thought the same but they are not as blinkered as Berbizier. In sports bars throughout Hong Kong, Scots had found themselves applauding the 'Auld Enemy', Aussies grudgingly congratulated the 'Poms' and the New Zealanders also had second thoughts about their World Cup bets. England, under coach Jack Rowell, may still rely heavily on their forwards but they are playing the type of expansive game that opponents feared they would one day. Perhaps, Berbizier felt he needed to bad-mouth the English to rally his players - or hold on to his job - but with that statement he lost so much credibility. Likewise, beleaguered Atherton's off-the-cuff comments after England's collapse in the fifth Test against Australia were shown, on analysis, to be completely off-the-wall. 'We have got some good young players and we must back them,' he trumpeted. 'Youth is the only way forward.' Oh, yeah. Old-timers Graham Gooch and Mike Gatting may have had a few zeros against their names but there were also several ugly ducks by those who Atherton hopes will turn into swans. Test matches are no place for callow cricketers - that's why countries have 'A' sides. Old or young, the Australians have better players than England at the moment and better leadership - end of story.