Archive for November 2010
Whichever way you write it, it still doesn’t compute. Every time I look at it it’s as if my eyes absorb the information but refuse to pass it onto my brain. “Sorry guv, it’s a waste of time. She just won’t buy it”.
As a scoreline it has taken everything you thought you knew about cricket and chewed it up. It’s laughed in your face at all those backyard games in which you strived to attain a sense of realism in proceedings. There is only surrealism now.
I first discovered that something peculiar was afoot midway through the world’s most ill-timed romantic getaway this weekend. Decorum states that sport is not mentioned for the duration of the break, let alone viewed. So it was that I was already asleep by the time England embarked on their marathon on Sunday morning. But my fiancee was kept awake my somnolent murmurings as I dreamt of the test match. I woke to her restless complaints of her inability to drop off. What better remedy to insomnia than the late-night stylings of Michael Holding, whose sonorous tones act like a Jamaican lullaby?
The first odd thing which struck me once I’d turned the television on was that there appeared to have been a cathode ray malfunction which rendered the players a disquieting shade of green. The corners of the screen had also fogged up making the action look like a dream sequence from an Australian soap. Which I thought it was when I saw the score.
Does anybody remember Sally Robbins? She was the Australian rower who competed as part of the women’s eight at the 2004 Olympics in Athens. She dropped her oar, thus letting down her team-mates who found themselves in position of promise coming into the closing stages of the final.
I think of her often. Especially when I’m watching Mitchell Johnson.
Just waiting for John Howard to wade in.
The second day of play at the Gabba was more palatable than the first. Not just because of the scoreline, but also because the Australian hero today was far less abrasive. Watching Peter Siddle take wickets is similar to having your eyes scrubbed with a nailbrush and soap. If Mike Hussey hits a boundary, it’s more like being slapped in the face with a Curly-wurly.
Hussey has a hunted look like an maltreated kitten, it makes you want nice things to happen to him. If he was one of your friends, you wouldn’t mind him meeting your mum. He’d ask her where she got her scarf from. Your sister would take a shine to him. You might even let him take her bowling. He’d talk about cricket with your dad, who’d offer him a can of Guinness and a cheese bap. He’d eat it and then remark that it was the best cheese bap he’d ever eaten. Your dad would ask if he could call him Mr. Cricket. He’d say sure.
Mr. Cricket was a title handed to him apparently by Graeme Swann‘s older brother Alec while they were at Northamptonshire, designed to mock his unquenchable enthusiasm for the game. Seems that shit banter runs in the family. Liking cricket is not a reason to tease someone. It’s better than being Mr. Bestiality. Or Mr. Siddle actually.
It’s lunchtime. I’ve just woken up. Loose Women is on. I feel disoriented. I’ve got jetlag and I haven’t travelled any further than the kitchen. I think I might be developing a bladder infection. I spent most of the early hours needing the toilet but never went because I was worried that I’d piss away all my energy and drop off. I’m too old for this shit. The problem with maintaining an constant nocturnal vigil is that when the cricket turns into a nightmare there’s no waking up. You might consider that I’m being melodramatic, but take a look at the photo below. See the puce distorted features of my nemesis Peter Siddle. I had to pinch myself during his hat-trick this morning. Not to check that I was still awake. But because it was a preferable sensation than watching his mangled ejaculatory gargoyle face.
I need to sleep now.
My friend Bonald is an England fan who has lost his appetite for Ashes cricket. Like an elderly monk who loses his faith on his deathbed, it potentially couldn’t have happened at a worse time. Bonald hopes that England will lose the opening match in order to reignite his interest. It’s roughly equivalent to punching yourself in the face just to feel alive. He’s also keen for Doug Bollinger to inspire the Australians at the Gabba.
If Bollinger isn’t selected tomorrow, then Peter Siddle will play instead. Both men are vital for Bonald and most England fans in stirring such a loathing that vanquishing them becomes paramount. Bollinger and Siddle share that brusque, angry, whingey way of playing of cricket, but it’s not just attitudinal flaws that gets up the nose, it’s also an aesthetic thing. Bollinger with his red face like a puking baby with his silly little baby wig. And Siddle with his self-regarding facial hair and offensive dentistry.
If this isn’t persuasive enough, then try looking at the below photo and then shoving your fingers down your gullet, inducing Pavlovian waves of nausea every time Bollinger appears on your screen. Once you start actively disliking these people you might start enjoying it, like a hobby. You’ll keep a picture of them on your bedside table just so the last thing you do before you go to sleep at night is hate Peter Siddle a bit. Just don’t be too overenthusiastic, you’ll end up simply liking them.
No stone has been left unturned by Andy Flower and Andrew Strauss in readying their team for Australia. Once they realised that turning stones had absolutely no effect on anything they set about looking at their actual players.
Five of the English top six bear the mental scars of a grotesque routing last time the squad went on an Ashes tour. The sixth, Jonathon Trott, seems capable of creating his own internal frailties. But the necessary preparations have been made by the management to limit the potential strife caused by these unhappy memories.
Kevin Pietersen and Paul Collingwood have been sat in front a carefully-edited highlights package of the last series in Australia, featuring only the first innings at Adelaide. The hole in Alastair Cook‘s technique outside off-stump has been exposed by Australian bowlers previously. To counter this, Cook has spent a month with the top French cricketers in an academy just outside of Paris straightening out his batting. Ian Bell was subject to a vicious brand of intellectual torture during last series when Shane Warne remarked on his similarity to the Shermanator from the seminal American Pie films. To avoid a repeat of these comparisons, Bell appears to have dyed his hair a lovely deep chestnutty colour. Now he looks like a young Ken Barlow. And no-one can sledge that.
The 2005 victory was built on the concept that the bowlers would find success ‘hunting in packs’. The coaching staff have deemed that it would prove providential to foster the same mentality this time round. For this reason our preferred quartet have been taken from the bosom of the squad and transported to Queensland early to fend for themselves in the bush. They will survive only by foraging on berries and preying on baby koala.
The rapid descent of Australian cricket into a quivering shambles has set the alarms bells ringing at Sportsthoughts headquarters. Is this a dastardly strategem designed to put the tourists off the scent? Will Brisbane be the arena for a battalion of honed Aussie cricketers to charge forth from a metaphorical Trojan Horse of shitness?
Recent form feels suspicious in its scope and creativity. There’s a roster of injuries that include spurious entries such as Simon Katich‘s poorly thumb. There was that pointless and ill-timed hoop-la surrounding the announcement of a 17-man squad; the ceremony was ruined by rain, the clouds probably seeded as part of some fiendish scheme to depress the nation further.
Even Michael Atherton arrived in Hobart this week stating that he found the atmosphere strange when he touched down in the country, although he may be confusing that for jetlag. His Australian counterparts are possibly involved in the conspiracy. Last night they waxed bizarrely rhapsodical about the technique of Usman Khawaja during an innings that had lasted one delivery up to that point. He’d left the ball. Khawaja is one of eight participating batsmen of the Australian squad that played first-class cricket yesterday. They managed a laughable 61 runs between them. I don’t buy it. There’s something up.
This isn’t a new tactic. England tried it last time they toured Australia, sklifully executing a imaginitive plot that including mental illness and in-fighting. The coup de grace was delivered with some panache by Steve Harmison and his iconicly rubbish first delivery at the Gabba. There was just one problem. They forgot to get out of the horse.
If an estate agent was trying to flog Audley Harrison he might describe him as ‘charmingly homespun’ and point to the slogan across the t-shirt he wore as he slunk the slow slink of death into the ring on Saturday. ‘Keep Stonebridge Adventure Playground Open’ it read, a local campaign in an age where local shit is everything. The more uncharitable might say that this initiative is in keeping with Audley’s village approach to the fight, but Nelson Mandela won his freedom long ago and we’re all aware of AIDS these days so a good cause is hard to find. I say fair enough, Audley. The Stonebridge Adventure Playground is one of the few places that Audley doesn’t get beaten up. Apart from that regrettable incident with the little girl and the scramble net.
So this blog is putting its weight behind the campaign, if only to ensure that Harrison’s career didn’t die in vain that night. Plus the playground is only five minutes up the road, so its all cool and local. Not that I’d ever want to go there. I’d rather go to Westfield. But I’ve done some research on the internet, and the playground boasts all sorts of wooden crap that you can clamber on. Which is definitely worth saving.
I knew a girl who attended Brunel University while Audley Harrison was studying sports science there. She was able to vouch that he was a polite and popular member of the faculty, a notably passive type given the violent nature of his chosen hobby. Which means that all the recent verbal trash that Harrison has been flinging at David Haye rings a little false. A bit like if Gloria Hunniford offered Anne Diamond outside to the BBC Television Centre car park for a daytime televison version of the ‘Rumble in the Jungle‘.
I followed Harrison’s early professional career keenly for no other slightly juvenile reason than we shared a surname. I watched as developed an unusually tender boxing style, preferring to caress and fondle his opponents rather than actually hitting them. And as he got regularly duffed up by taxi drivers, schoolgirls and paper bags. Like most viewers I got bored. The only thing Harrison had succeeded in knocking out was BBC coverage of professional boxing. He actually killed it.
But now he has a shot at the world title, an opportunity which seems to jar more than one of his punches, particularly if compare Saturdays bout to some of the previous tussles in the rich history of the division.
Glenn McGrath has become a novelty act. He’s like an enthusiastic dog or parrot fetched onto a talent show stage and asked to bark or squawk answers to mathematical challenges. There are no cerebral processes involved, just an instinctive desire to please their audience. The hypothetical charm of the act lies in that invariably the animal bleats the wrong amount, and we all laugh at the poor dumb beast.
But sometimes its owner will ask the dog/parrot/Glenn what 1 + 1 is and it will reply with two noises. Like McGrath in late 2006, when he correctly predicted that Australia would whitewash England in the Ashes series. He’s like a stopped clock. A big silly pigeon-toed stopped clock. It tells the right time twice a day.