October 22, 2009

Champions League 2009

Brad Hodge Squarepants

Andrew Hughes

Law enforcement catches up with Brad Hodge for his role in a cartoon cricket match © Cricinfo Ltd

What the Jimmy Anderson was that?

I had cleared my schedule for this clash of the blue Titans. I accumulated several road traffic violations whilst dashing back from my daughter’s school in order not to miss the opening exchanges, and in the face of considerable protest I vetoed her proposal that she be allowed to watch some cartoons. Top-class sport is all about sacrifices, I told her and in any case, the misadventures of Mr Squarepants couldn’t possibly compare with the tough, gristly contest that was about to ensue at 1530 BST on Eurosport UK.

I will admit that there was more at stake than just the chance to watch some all-Aussie action. For many long years I have been boring people senseless with my theories on the inadequacy of the English domestic game versus its Australian counterpart. Aussie cricket is tougher, I would explain to the nearest set of ears, because there are fewer teams, so the talent is more concentrated, you see. I would then elaborate on the Academy, annual rainfall in the Australasian region, the administrative methodology of Cricket Australia, the teachings of Master Langer and so on and so forth until their eyes glazed over and I once more found myself checking the wine list on my own.

So the Champions League was the perfect test and when Somerset and Sussex crashed out while Victoria and New South Wales strolled to the semi-finals, I could savour the warm glow of unbearable smugness. All that was needed for my theory to be proven and my self-satisfaction to be engraved in stone was an epic tussle between these Australian giants, a no-holds-barred, no-mercy sledgefest, a battering of limbs and wills that would have us wincing and hiding behind the sofa at the sheer unrelenting ferocious professionalism of it all.

Part one was bang on. The Bushrangers snarled, scrambled and shouted, but the Hughes blade hummed, Warner walloped the leather off the white ball, and after a spirited 20 overs worth of entertainment, a hefty target was raised for the Victorians to tackle. Looking at their line-up, I thought this was going to be one hell of a run-chase: David Hussey. Cameron White. Brad Hodge. Aiden Blizzard. Some others. Hell, Billy Doctrove was so excited, he started to get a little jiggy on the sidelines (surely those long delays during referrals to the third umpire are crying out for a contemporary dance interlude).

But then something strange happened. Perhaps they were trying to retain the interest of bored five-year-olds or perhaps the Bushrangers just aren’t very good, but they appeared to be acting out a classic Spongebob episode. Specifically, episode seven of series eight, in which our inept invertebrate hero takes up Twenty20 but is hilariously unable to score at faster than three-and-a-half runs an over. They swung. They missed. They lost a wicket. They swung. They missed. And so on. Watching Victoria’s innings was like sitting staring at an acorn, waiting for it to turn into a tree. No, it was worse than that. It was like watching Worcestershire.

So now I have a new theory. Fifty per cent of Australian cricketers are useless under pressure, and Cameron White clearly belongs to the species Felis Catus. Someone email it to the Times and we can call it a dossier.


Andrew Hughes is a writer currently based in England

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Posted by Itchy on (October 23, 2009, 12:31 GMT)

Can't believe I read the article to the end and have now wasted more time making a comment - I'm going to bed!

Posted by Siddhartha on (October 23, 2009, 7:26 GMT)

@redneck lollz that was a funny comment but comeon have some faith in SA ther are not that bad

Posted by Prabakaran on (October 23, 2009, 7:01 GMT)

Forget about yesterdays let us see what will happen tody.... I accept this concept and also i hope India will beat Australia in the upcoming series 7-0.

Posted by redneck on (October 23, 2009, 6:16 GMT)

@Ben mate as a south aussie myself,i dont think even the wile e coyote is a fair comparison. more like kenny from south park!

Posted by Ben on (October 23, 2009, 2:59 GMT)

My advice to you is to make sure you never watch a game involving the Redbacks (South Australia). Now thats a team which can capitulate like few others, especially when it comes to 20/20. If Victoria are Squarebob Spongepants, SA would be something similar to Wile E. Coyote.

Posted by spideybuff on (October 22, 2009, 18:00 GMT)

Victoria let the pitch beat them. From before the game all the teams were complaining about the pitch and the low scores...yet NSW made 170 on it.

Triniad would have probably done the same and attack in the same way.But the teams who were at Delhi, fell for the hype and let the pitch beat them rather than play each ball on merit.

Posted by suresh on (October 22, 2009, 14:56 GMT)

forget about yesterdays let us see what will happen tody....

Posted by David on (October 22, 2009, 14:33 GMT)

@Victor Trumpet, the toss wasn't worth 80 runs, nor did the pitch change so drastically between the 20th over of NSW's innings and Vic's 3rd that they should be 6-3 already. Can you really not bring yourself to admit that Vic was comprehensively outplayed?

Posted by Dave on (October 22, 2009, 14:19 GMT)

"Like watching Worcestershire"

Christ, glad I gave it a miss now.

Posted by Winnie on (October 22, 2009, 13:20 GMT)

I don't know what the flog has happened to Cameron White. He used to be the biggest swashbuckler of the lot but he barely goes at a run a ball even in ODI's these days. Doesn't he realise they don't want him in the test team? Twenty/20 is it for him. Before he gets more delusional and aspirational about the baggy green test cap, someone needs to tell him.

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Andrew Hughes
Andrew Hughes is a writer and avid cricket watcher who has always retained a healthy suspicion of professional sportsmen, and like any right-thinking person rates Neville Cardus more highly than Don Bradman. His latest book is available here and here @hughandrews73

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