Posts Tagged ‘shane warne’
It seems that is now illegal to remark on Rahul Dravid‘s qualities as a batsmen without also voicing an additional comment about his good character. Everyone agrees that ‘the Wall’ is indeed a very nice wall. Nasser Hussain went as far to say gushingly that Dravid was a “sensational guy”, perhaps revealing a latent man-crush.
I have once encountered Dravid at close quarters. He was on Oxford St, standing outside Aldo. I can vouch that he appeared very courteous and humble while window-shopping for mid-priced loafers.
I can add Dravid to Shane Warne and Abdul Razzaq to the list of international cricketers that I have seen on Oxford St. It’s a rich seam, particularly when you consider I’ve only come across one footballer in that period. Jan-Aage Fjortoft. In HMV. True story.
I worry about Dravid. He looks a bit spoddy. I can’t help thinking that people might take advantage of his better nature.
We need a wicketkeeper. Rahul, put your pads and gloves on.
We need an opener. Rahul, put your pads and gloves on.
We need a wicketkeeper, and then opener immediately afterwards. Rahul, put your pads and gloves on and then put your other pads and gloves on.
Rahul, make us a brew.
Rahul, go get us some fags and a Toffee Crisp.
And so on.
Bet he makes a nice cup of tea.
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.
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.
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.
The fact that Geoff Miller revealed that he is not ruling anyone out in his selection of the England squad for the final Ashes test at the Oval suggests that he has his ruler out and some general rulage will ensue. Which spells trouble for the encumbent eleven particularly the middle order and even more particularly Ravi Bopara who looks like he might be on the sharp end of Miller’s ruler.
I assuming that Miller’s announcement is a slight overstatement. I’m guessing that I’ve been ruled out for instance. Which leaves us a few candidates. The most obvious pick is Jonathon Trott, who made the last squad. The brilliant advantage of Trott is that he is South African and therefore not “flat and lazy” like most of his would-be team-mates. Justin Langer does know everything after all. And Trott is, by all accounts I’ve heard, something of a arrogant nob which is an excellent quality to possess to take on these Aussies.
Among the other names that Miller may be flicking through his Rolodex for is Robert Key. His is a cultish popularity unlike any other I can think of, largely based on the fact that he is quite tubby and smokes to stop himself sweating before he bats and seems like a thoroughly decent chap. But this season for Kent has been a microcosm of his test career: mainly underachieving apart from an anomalous double century against inferior opposition. But Shane Warne likes him and that counts for a lot apparently.
Mark Ramprakash is another cricketer who never managed to pin test cricket against a wall and tell it who was in charge. But he remains one of a small crew of England cricketers whose average against Australia is higher than his overall test figure: 42.40 no less. And he is on form. That is an understatement. He is on form, in form, around form, by form, through form. Mark Ramprakash is form. And if you can look Bruno Tonioli in the eye and survive to tell the tale then Mitchell Johnson should hold no fear.
I’m assuming that Trott will win over the sentimental lobby and get the call. Almost certainly in place of Bopara but I would prefer to see Ian Bell relegated again. Justin Langer thinks Bopara is a very good batsman. And Justin does know everything.
I gave up on the plan to write a daily Ashes post when I got drunk on Friday night. My friends and I drowned our sorrows and reminisced back to good old times and that halcyon Wednesday when we weren’t quite sure who was winning the First Test.
Since then until about three minutes ago Australia were Ramsay Streets ahead, and the Saturday hangover and some Sunday house removals came as a welcome distraction. But then just after lunch Test cricket became amazing again. And that is why it’s amazing. Because it can be inexorably rubbish for days and then suddenly from nowhere it’s amazing again. Light and shade. Rubbish and amazing.
England should be under no illusion. They have been mainly outgunned in this game and need to improve vastly at Lords. But they should also take heart that if Warne and McGrath were playing on that last day then there probably wouldn’t have been a last day. As we are constantly being reminded: Australia are a good team, not a great one. It’s just that maybe England are a mediocre team, not a good one.
This afternoon also gave another pleasing opportunity to hate Peter Siddle again after the Australian sponsored bat-athon. He really is a Merv Hughes for the 21st century. The facial hair may be more subtle but it’s certainly no less stupid. And he’s good enough to take English wickets, but not good enough to sit back and adopt the “actually, respect due” attitude that you might take for Warne or McGrath. Plus his mouth is an insult to orthodontists everywhere, which isn’t really reason enough to dislike the man but if you can’t take irrational umbrage against at least one Australian then there really isn’t any point in the Ashes at all. He’s probably a lovely fluffy guy off the pitch as most of these scabrous fast bowlers are, although I hear that rumours of Andre Nel’s bonhomie in the clubhouse are greatly exaggerated.
One happy moment from this weekend was that my team won their first game of the season knocking off the 93 runs we needed in just 10.4 overs. Our opener scored 68 not out. He’s Australian by the way.
I am not normally in the business of disseminating advertisements for a Rupert Murdoch enterprise, but I have been entertained over the last week by this little trail for the Ashes summer on SkySports.
It’s not the ludicrous parade of Australian cliches that is so appealing, although playing on the Aussie stereotypes seems to be de rigeur this week. If you haven’t had the opportunity to watch the hilarious Michel Gondry-directed episode of Flight of the Conchords that was aired on BBC4 this week, then I am sorry.
The only reason I would commend this advert to you is the performance of Sir Ian Botham. His portrayal of a man exasperated by the prospect of a summer in the same small space as Shane Warne is both funny and effecting. Botham has previously put in a sturdy stint on the Shredded Wheat campaign, but this performance is on a higher plane.
It is conceivable that Botham raised his game in the presence of Warne, a man who himself has consistently attained thespian excellence throughout his lengthy association with the Advanced Hair Studio. The adverts for AHS normally culminated in some clumsy reference to Warne’s previous text-messaging misadventures which would be the cue for some seemingly genuine irritation on the tubby spinner’s part.
Botham is integral to Sky’s coverage. Not because he provides any mind-shattering insight. But his bashing of Australians is second to none. We could do away with the Third Man analysis section, and permanently install Beefy into some recess of the commentary box as the Aussie-Basher. It seems like that the entire Sky team resent their regular secondment to the Third Man position (apart from Nick Knight, who I’m guessing was a prefect at school). Nasser Hussain in particular bears a particular grudge. Nobody puts Nasser in the corner.
So that’s settled then. Sir Ian the Aussie-Basher. He can get the ball rolling with Rupert Murdoch.