Archive for December 2010
Ian Chappell has described Ricky Ponting as past his “use-by date”. Given his execrable form and questionable conduct recently it is fair that his pretensions on the future captaincy should be examined, but to regard him in terms of a yoghurt does a disservice to his golden record as an Australian cricketer. Even if his face has soured to form the features of a puking kitten.
Perhaps Ponting should be relieved that only his cricketing actions have been critiqued. Peter English writing for Cricinfo today claims that there are doubts about Michael Clarke’s suitability for the role because of his ‘metrosexual tendencies’. But if a man wants to apply under-eye serum and watch Glee marathons that is entirely his own business. What are the fears? That he’ll replace the traditional baggy green cap with a more fitted version in a seasonal colour? Or he’ll replace the team song with something from the Olivia Newton-John back catalogue? We can only hope.
And the winner is……..
Hunter Mahan has not been awarded this accolade not through any sense of schadenfreude against a golfer who probably loves his mum and owns the long toothy face of a whinnying Disney goat. Well maybe a little schadenfreude actually. The Mahan meltdown is particularly poignant given his previously dismissive attitude towards the Ryder Cup. His lachrymose performance at the press conference may dispel any doubt over American enthusiasm for the event, which comes as a stolid comfort for those who hold the Ryder Cup dear as a bastion of not-for-profit competition.
Mahan should accept this honour on behalf of all sportsmen who have learnt of defeat’s enduring propensity to lodge itself in the throat and wreak hell with your vocal cords.
I suspect the Huntsman will choke up again when he finds out about the award.
After England subsided to a degrading loss in Perth you start to speculate whether all those hopes you had were false. But the side have suffered this kind of blippage before, suffering major boggles recently at Johannesburg, at the Oval against Pakistan, and most pertinently last summer at Headingley in the last Ashes series, a game in which they were also well and truly Mitched on. Then it seemed that Australia had snatched back the initiative only to lose the Ashes in famous style in the decider.
Before Plan A is wiped off the whiteboard, England should remember that they were able foist Australia out relatively cheaply in both innings at the WACA. Their opponents appear not to have solved the twin conundra of the no.6 position and the spinning option. They’ve merely caressed two birds with one Steve Smith-shaped stone. And the captain is struggling with form and a malformed little pinkie. So all is not lost yet.
Sorry. Not that funny. Just needed to be said.
Avram Grant is a depressing man with complexion of an ashtray and a wife who drinks piss for fun. He’s been shuffling around Upton Park attached to a saline drip of synthetic optimism pretending that all is happy in the house of Hammers. Which it is clearly not.
And now this three-game ultimatum. Which could potentially turn Grant’s final days at West Ham into a prime-time gameshow. If his team are still without a win before the third game against Everton then that fixture becomes a million-dollar question for the Israeli. Perhaps the operations team will play long orchestral version of the Countdown crescendo over the public address system as a lady in a sequined swimming costume parades the touchline with a copy of Grant’s P45. And then as the crowd look to a snowy sky, there is Sam Allardyce being lowered inexorably towards the dugout in a perspex box. Specially reinforced of course.
I thought I’d seen everything in cricket until I saw a photo of Stuart Broad emerging like a wet Bond girl from the ocean in the ‘Torso of the Week’ section of celebrity tatmag Heat. The dark poetry of which is that the beautiful Broad abdomen has since been torn asunder and denied him any further involvement in the series.
The England management consider Chris Tremlett to be a suitable bowling replacement but if Heat magazine have a void to fill on their pretty-boy centrefold then the Surrey man is adequately sculpted also, as this eye-popping and slightly frightening picture testifies:
There seems to be some grass on the wicket. Maybe he asked for a Perth.
I don’t normally feel the necessity to relate the dreams I’ve had. Being so personal it’s the ultimate ‘you had to be there’ anecdote. But this weekend I’ve experienced such a bewildering succession of cricket-themed dreams I’m compelled to share. Each one is more surreal in its narrative construct than the last.
Firstly I dreamt I was Kevin Pietersen. I do this quite regularly. Usually I’m playing cricket. This time I was being introduced to the world as the sixth member of fresh-faced new boyband One Direction. I was explaining to the attendant press that I had been recruited to be the vital “cool, older one” in the line-up.
Then I was Stuart Broad. This happens less frequently. I had returned to England following my stomach injury and I was forlornly trying to recreate the Ashes in the street outside my house. My team-mates and opponents were recruited from local youngsters. The series was curtailed by irate neighbour with a ginger moustache who complained that we’d smashed one of his windows.
Finally I dreamt that Nathan Hauritz held a garage sale to flog some of his old Australian jumpers. Actually I was awake when I was dreaming this. And I wasn’t dreaming it, I was reading it across the rolling bar on Sky Sports News.
Whatever the motivation was for Hauritz to pursue this enterprise, it is odd for a professional sportsman to involve himself in something that is usually the preserve of pre-pubescent Blue Peter viewers. It’s been reported that Hauritz organised the sale as a final act of defiance against an unthinking selection policy, the last symbolic protest of a discarded manchild. If this so, then t’s tragic. If I had have dreamt it, there would have been tears on my pillow.
Tonight’s dream: Shane Warne and Liz Hurley.
It is obviously no coincidence that the surprise elevation of Michael Beer to international status follows the promotion of his cause by Shane Warne last week. Since his retirement Warne has operated like an eminence baggy grise in Australian cricket, acting as spinmaker behind the thrones of the administration. Perhaps the management will use Warne’s endorsement as a disclaimer should the Beer gamble fail to pay off. It remains to be seen whether the selection panel should have heeded that word of motherly caution “if Shane Warne told you to jump off a cliff, would you?”
The bulbous shadow of Warne has loomed over Australian slow-bowling since his final game four years ago. Those who have tried to operate in it have flailed in the darkness. His legend could hardly have been bolstered further but as each pretender wilts away into oblivion, the myth of Warne is fluffed a little more. For that reason you could mischievously speculate that the bewildering selection policy has been orchestrated by Warne himself.
In addition to the tapping of Beer from obscurity, it would explain the bafflingly positive commentary on Xavier Doherty‘s bowling in the face of all cricket science. And the kibosh imposed on a return for Nathan Hauritz by arguing that it simply wasn’t possible.
Australian cricket fans, you have been Warned.
Like a couple of hoary stags in a South Australian deer rut, Ian Botham and Ian Chappell revived an ancient feud and locked antlers in the Adelaide Oval car park yesterday. The spectacle of two pensionable commentators taking each other forcibly by the lapels may be considered unedifying, but at least it provides a constant in this strange new Ashes dawn. England‘s successes on tour have been met with bleary-eyed jubilation in this country, but the rate of change from the normal status quo Down Under has accelerated to the point of nausea. So if some of the old guard want to stage their own Ian-only battle re-enactment from 1977 then all the more comforting.
It’s a vague pity that onlookers chose to intervene and prevented something more visceral developing. My suspicion is that based on having more faculties intact, Botham would have won through on a points decision. But Chappelli would have put up a good scrap. Better than his countrymen at least.
Until this morning England hadn’t won a test match in Australia since 1994. I’m excluding games that don’t count. The occasions when the Australians having already claimed the series, pitched up in a groggy post-Christmas haze with the Jacob’s Creek stains still down their whites.
And now England have won a meaningful fixture. This won’t go down in history as one of the great test matches. Classic games have an ebb and flow. In Adelaide, there was just flow. Or ebb, depending on your perspective. Australia have ebbed so much since their last home series that they can’t see the beach anymore. They’re treading water out in the ocean while England make sandcastles and gorge themselves stupid on Calippos.
It’s virtually incomprehensible for any England fan who can only remember the last two decades of cricket. I only wrote this post so I could believe it more. You’ve probably guessed that it wasn’t designed for your entertainment.
Sir Ian Botham seems convinced that tomorrow Adelaide will be laid waste by a deluge of hailstones the size of grapefruits and England‘s hopes will dissolve like a wicked witch in a puddle. Botham has been in consultation with local meteorologists, who he declares are among the most accurate in world.
So as the fearsome reputation of their cricketers evaporates away, at least their weathermen continue to carry the torch of Australian excellence. Which raises the perennial question: why are Australians so good at predicting the weather?
For a long time Australian weather forecasters operated in the shadows of their British colleagues during a period when behemoths such as Bill Giles and Suzanne Charlton strode the earth. This was considered a threat to Australian national identity so the administration created a blueprint for future success which would be funded with government money. The centrepiece of the scheme was the establishment of a weather academy near Snowy River. The academy became home to some of the most talented young weatherpeople in the country; teenagers who had excelled at geography or had shown an undue interest in rain.
The finest meteorological intellects were recruited to coach the young minds. This included the controversial employment of Ian McCaskill, poached from the BBC Weather Centre and ferried over on a huge salary. Eventually the new generation of weathermen reached adulthood and quickly gained renown as the most prescient in the world, predicting weather not only in Australia but overseas also, frequently coming to England and guessing our weather too.