Posts Tagged ‘andrew strauss’
I’m not massively comfortable with the use of superlatives. They’re a bit flash and unnecessary, like diamond dental crowns. It does tend to dilute the vocabulary when describing England this summer though, hence why I’ve been less than prolific recently. But now England are officially
the best very good, and deserved holders of the Giant Shiny Chupa-Chup, I should pass some form of comment.
Watching the highlights today, I spied something in one fleeting frame of action. Chris Schofield had appeared on the pitch. A gormless ghostly figure from the past, from a much shitter era of English cricket. Normally the management let enthusiastic spaniel pups come bounding onto the field when a substitute is required, like that boy from One Direction who was pressed into service at the weekend.
Perhaps Schofield was introduced as a reminder of what once was. A gawky chinless reminiscence of where it all began, being one of the first signatories on a ECB central contract. So here’s to you Schoey, they couldn’t have done it without you.
It is the debate that has split the country in two. The nation has not been this riven since a roundhead first offered a cavalier outside to taste his musket. It’s Blur vs Oasis. Moore vs Connery. Pro-life vs abortion.
The latest hot spud demands that each and everyone of us ask fundamental questions of our own worldview and decide exactly where we stand. Do you prefer brunettes or blondes? State or private education? North or south (Leicestershire)? Burly or willowy? Tall or really tall? Swing or seam?
I’d go for Bresnan. The selectors will probably plump for Broad. I don’t know really.
Whenever I see the England cricket team come together in a huddle I always picture Tredwell running around the perimeter seeking a way in, leaping up on someone’s shoulders to try and get himself involved in the discussion. He appears to have been the victim of a malicious practical joke, invited to a party only to be kept out on the pavement watching the festivities longingly through a window.
In his few international appearances so far Tredwell has maintained the craven demeanour of a man who knows he doesn’t belong, like a player who knows he’s only selected as the result of a series of administrative blunders. Perhaps he’s been found out after all.
I think we were all surprised to wake up the other day to see Kevin Pietersen stick his face above the parapet and allow Canuck emigres to hurl shiny white balls at it. Partly because previously Pietersen has proved resistant to a posting any higher than the No.4, preferring to lurk cravenly in the cosier surroundings of the middle order. And partly because it represents a shift from the meticulous scheming that has become the modus operandi for the Flower-Strauss management axis.
What should be added is that Eoin Morgan‘s shattered finger shook the kaleidoscope, and now the batting plans are now in flux. Besides, eleventh-hour selectorial shambles are almost a tradition in England World Cup campaigns. It creates a feeling so familiar and warm you could toast your teacakes on it.
Early signs indicate tentatively that the gamble may pay off. And apart from anything else it neatly merges the KP dilemma and the opener dilemma into one slightly bigger uber-dilemma. It’s one less dilemma to worry about.
Largely I leave the making of military comparisons in sport to jingoistic American Ryder Cup captains, but when I think of the English dressing room I can’t help imagine an army hospital, full of shattered bodies and high with the rancid smell of decay. Their whites stiff with dirt and gore, returning from the front line of a battle they’ve no need or desire to fight. The war in Australia was won at Christmas, the subsequent smaller squabbles have only served to strain and fracture the squad. How many of Eoin Morgan‘s fingers have to be flown home in a splint before questions are raised of ECB command?
Apologies for all this. But when you’re propounding palpable truisms like there is too much international cricket being played, sometimes you have to dress it up in ludicrous war metaphors.
It is actually quite comforting watching England flounder in the current series against Australia, like putting on a old pair of slippers or drinking a cup of hot Ribena. It seems that all our optimism for the World Cup may be based on their recent gains in the other two formats of the game. It may just be that our most successful operatives are better suited to cricket’s extremes rather than the middle ground.
Take Michael Yardy for instance, a keystone of the triumphant Twenty20 campaign in the Caribbean last year. In the abridged version, his skill is to zip off his four-over allocation before the batsmen have taken their guard. In the longer form of limited overs cricket, at around the fifth or sixth over the opposition notice that he is bowling at them and begin to make the necessary preparations.
Conversely Matt Prior is a cricketer with some superior statistics at test level, where he seems to play with that thumping one-day beat. But put him in a blue shirt and his batting becomes oddly and ineffectually frenetic, like a man trying to stave off a tiger attack with a stick of celery. His surprise promotion has also freshened up a rather musty debate about the transience of the opening combination. Steve Davies had previously performed steadily, stymied only by the obvious weakness of looking like a frightened owlet about to chunder up a worm.
Of course Andy Flower has made a few queriable decisions that have turned out to be providential. And I’m just sitting here in my pants with a laptop across my knee.
Ricky Ponting may bridle at the excesses of the English sledging, but what is a player supposed to do if a clumsy, angry-looking man wearing a toupee comes running towards them? Perhaps Ponting would accept a special dispensation to allow players to sledge opponents with tonsorial supplements? If there is any doubt about whether the victim is follicly enhanced then simply refer it to the third umpire who will examine the ‘hot spot’ footage to make a judgement. Like so:
P.S Rain – you are not my friend any more.
If Ricky Ponting and Andrew Strauss were boxers and the first day of the current test was a fight, then the Australian captain‘s flouncing complaints about the English sledging would be equivalent to moaning that “things had got a bit physical” in the ring, or “someone might get hurt”. Sledging is now an integral part of the game. The Australians invented it, the laws were codified by the Marquess of Stevewaugh in the late 1990s. There are degree courses offered in it. They teach it in schools to try to get the kids off the streets where the more brutal and unsupervised forms of sledging can lead to serious mental disintegration. The children are taught that the only boundaries that exist in sledging concerns insults regarding an opponent’s mother, wife or sister. Anything other than that is allowed, or ‘fair dinkum’ to use the correct jargon.
Doug Bollinger is the current poster boy of the Australian sledging movement. His whole whitewashed face is one big sledge against humanity. It is the only reason he has been selected. It definitely isn’t for his bowling.
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.
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.