ICC World Twenty20 May 8, 2010

Could this be England?

There were slogs that connected, sixes that flew and dives that actually saved runs
24


Shahid Afridi feels cheated after he finds the England team is not as pathetic as he was promised by the ICC © Getty Images
 
Can I be frank with you? I feel we’re all friends here and that I what I say to you will go no further. The thing is, I have a confession to make. For some time now, I have not derived any particular pleasure from watching the England cricket team. This will, I know, come as a shock to some of you, who were under the impression that the chaps in darkish blue were a throwback to the Golden Age of cricket.

But those of you not residing in long-term institutions for the mentally bewildered will understand. When England play cricket, they provoke many feelings. Boredom. Ennui. Fatigue. Apathy. Sporadic bouts of blind rage. Factory operatives are strongly advised not to watch England play cricket whilst operating heavy machinery. I can well recall one July morning when I fell asleep whilst Alastair Cook was taking guard and was only roused in the middle of the evening session by the squeals of my pet gerbil who could stand it no longer.

However, news reached me earlier this week of extraordinary developments taking place in the Caribbean and so on Thursday morning I taped my eyelids in the open position and tuned in. Immediately, I was drawn into a strange and unfamiliar land, an alternative dimension in which two aliens who looked a lot like Michael Atherton and Nick Knight blithely assured us that England would comfortably beat Pakistan. This was exciting, dangerous talk that told of a changed cricket landscape, of a new era in English cricket and possibly of a bottle of whisky behind Charles Colville’s cushion.

These two were, let us remember, prominent performers in England’s Cricket Circus of Calamity that toured the world in the 1990s, bringing hilarity, high jinks, pratfalls and exhibitions of staggering ineptitude to the comedy starved masses of the ICC member states. Now, here they were, large as life in their slacks and open-neck shirts, reclining in a television studio, adopting the blasé attitude of men who had placed a hefty wager on an event that had already happened. It was all most unsettling.

Of course, to an extent, any television appearance by Nick Knight is unsettling. I am no longer of the belief that he is running a mind controlling cult. You don’t have to worry, he isn’t dangerous. He is, however, starting to cause the indicator on my Irritation Gauge to fidget. Every question elicits from the former opener a pained frown, of the kind only usually seen on the faces of patients experiencing what might politely be described as lower intestinal difficulties.

Yet as the game unfolded, it appeared that, a mere seven years after the first ever Twenty20 game, the England players had actually been practising the art of despatching the ball to the boundary without it touching the ground. Previously the English method was to leave it to random instinct. If a chap was possessed of a certain robustness of limb, if the wind was in the right direction, if the moment was right, if the moon was in the right aspect of Mars and if he’d got his dander up, he might have been prevailed upon to assay an occasional lofted shot. Usually he didn’t.

But now the English are in possession of a Kieswetter, a Lumb and a Morgan and since they already had a Pietersen, their slogging goblet runneth over. Throw in Luke Wright’s one big shot and they have a team capable of going all the way, providing Australia withdraw from the competition in the next two weeks, Sri Lanka, South Africa and India continue to play below themselves and the twin evils of rain and mathematics do not ever again dare to conspire against Queen and country.

They are still English of course. Amid all the high-fiving, leaping and diving, there was the occasional scruffy overthrow, lack of communication and hands on hips indignation that tells of a nation for whom fielding is not something a chap does without being asked. And there was a touch of good old-fashioned Yorkshire surliness from Tim Bresnan and Ryan Sidebottom who both complained bitterly about being called for bowling bouncers over the batsman’s head shortly after bowling bouncers over the batsman’s head.

And yet, win they did. I am reminded of that old country proverb, often uttered by Warwickshire farmers on eerie mid summer nights,

“When the Knight be right, good folk take fright.”

I think we should all ponder that for a while.

Andrew Hughes is a writer currently based in England

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Ahmed on May 18, 2010, 6:59 GMT

    I believe its not important, the fact that the are not "proper" Englishmen rather the fact that, of all the teams, they chose the English side to represent.. and represent they did well

    Looking forward to the Ashes and the series against Pakistan...

  • Tim on May 9, 2010, 14:26 GMT

    England, boring, u must be having a laugh, in test matches England are by far the most interesting side to watch, just look back to the 2005 ashes, or even last years ashes or the recent tour to South Africa. At least matches involving England get results and are not just high run scoring draws like many played in India on flat batsmen wickets. Even when England do draw it is an exciting match where we only have one wicket left and the tail enders have to see off the final overs.

  • Kumar on May 9, 2010, 12:12 GMT

    Good Read. The England team is definitely good to watch now. You probably are the rightful inheritor of the unique skill in writing from PG Wodehouse, who is my all time favourite author. I look forward to reading your perspective on the ECB chairman putting the boot in to Modi and the Yorkshire Chairman's response! Regards

  • Patrick Eaton on May 9, 2010, 11:45 GMT

    Captain Swing, you appear to have forgotten the 1996 home series v Pakistan. The series result was 0-2.

  • Ind for Ever on May 9, 2010, 11:09 GMT

    let just act as if this is perfectly normal shall we ?. England is playing very well and rightfully so ( how long we have seen the creators of the game seem as if they are going to loose it all), now is the time to bury all that past, SA and Rrish players notwithstanding this Eng side is exciting..lovely.

  • Gerbs on May 9, 2010, 10:41 GMT

    Hey! Swing Captain! Leave gerbils alone!! Gerbils are awesome.

    Also well put LeBrown James, it's great to be part of one of the most tolerant societies in the world that immigrants want to come be a part of, and if those immigrants are good at cricket... well thats just dandy!

  • Andrew Hughes on May 9, 2010, 10:34 GMT

    Thanks all for your comments

    Captain Swing, I would never dream of referring to Lord Atherton as useless. If I had a hero, which I don't, it would be the grumpy former England skipper, as I said in an earlier article. I haven't checked, either, but I think the win in Pakistan was 2001, under Hussain. And I'll have you know that my gerbil's nickname was 'Fang'. Sadly he is no longer with us, he committed suicide by throwing himself off the mantelpiece during the recent series in Bangladesh.

  • SirARTHUR on May 9, 2010, 6:59 GMT

    ENgland is a good test side..very enjoyable to watch.barring their own mistakes..but in t20 an in particular this worlducup they have got a very lucky break in been teamed up with newzealand pakistand and southaftrica whilst the other group as 3 super teams in INDIa aussie an SL whilst a kieron pollard an chris gayle powered west indies is not far behind...........

    A easy group making passage to the semis an easy task. let the semis begin we will see their real mettle

  • Baaz on May 9, 2010, 4:35 GMT

    Excellent Read! I loved the the Unted States of South Africa comment as well.. Good thing I read this piece in the morning today, now am sure the rest of the day will be great! :D

    Thanks

  • Anand V on May 9, 2010, 4:30 GMT

    I could swear most of the funny pokes would have been true of an Indian team not so long ago!

  • Ahmed on May 18, 2010, 6:59 GMT

    I believe its not important, the fact that the are not "proper" Englishmen rather the fact that, of all the teams, they chose the English side to represent.. and represent they did well

    Looking forward to the Ashes and the series against Pakistan...

  • Tim on May 9, 2010, 14:26 GMT

    England, boring, u must be having a laugh, in test matches England are by far the most interesting side to watch, just look back to the 2005 ashes, or even last years ashes or the recent tour to South Africa. At least matches involving England get results and are not just high run scoring draws like many played in India on flat batsmen wickets. Even when England do draw it is an exciting match where we only have one wicket left and the tail enders have to see off the final overs.

  • Kumar on May 9, 2010, 12:12 GMT

    Good Read. The England team is definitely good to watch now. You probably are the rightful inheritor of the unique skill in writing from PG Wodehouse, who is my all time favourite author. I look forward to reading your perspective on the ECB chairman putting the boot in to Modi and the Yorkshire Chairman's response! Regards

  • Patrick Eaton on May 9, 2010, 11:45 GMT

    Captain Swing, you appear to have forgotten the 1996 home series v Pakistan. The series result was 0-2.

  • Ind for Ever on May 9, 2010, 11:09 GMT

    let just act as if this is perfectly normal shall we ?. England is playing very well and rightfully so ( how long we have seen the creators of the game seem as if they are going to loose it all), now is the time to bury all that past, SA and Rrish players notwithstanding this Eng side is exciting..lovely.

  • Gerbs on May 9, 2010, 10:41 GMT

    Hey! Swing Captain! Leave gerbils alone!! Gerbils are awesome.

    Also well put LeBrown James, it's great to be part of one of the most tolerant societies in the world that immigrants want to come be a part of, and if those immigrants are good at cricket... well thats just dandy!

  • Andrew Hughes on May 9, 2010, 10:34 GMT

    Thanks all for your comments

    Captain Swing, I would never dream of referring to Lord Atherton as useless. If I had a hero, which I don't, it would be the grumpy former England skipper, as I said in an earlier article. I haven't checked, either, but I think the win in Pakistan was 2001, under Hussain. And I'll have you know that my gerbil's nickname was 'Fang'. Sadly he is no longer with us, he committed suicide by throwing himself off the mantelpiece during the recent series in Bangladesh.

  • SirARTHUR on May 9, 2010, 6:59 GMT

    ENgland is a good test side..very enjoyable to watch.barring their own mistakes..but in t20 an in particular this worlducup they have got a very lucky break in been teamed up with newzealand pakistand and southaftrica whilst the other group as 3 super teams in INDIa aussie an SL whilst a kieron pollard an chris gayle powered west indies is not far behind...........

    A easy group making passage to the semis an easy task. let the semis begin we will see their real mettle

  • Baaz on May 9, 2010, 4:35 GMT

    Excellent Read! I loved the the Unted States of South Africa comment as well.. Good thing I read this piece in the morning today, now am sure the rest of the day will be great! :D

    Thanks

  • Anand V on May 9, 2010, 4:30 GMT

    I could swear most of the funny pokes would have been true of an Indian team not so long ago!

  • LeBrown James on May 8, 2010, 23:53 GMT

    Yup its all about KP right now .. but there is bigger Jr.KP or Princess KP who is bigger than him .. I wish him and his wife congrats. These kind of performances should really shut down the sledge chatter going on around him and rest not UK born players. Its time to stop talking about that kind of thing. Yeah there is nothing wrong with being "So called Nationalist" and show your frustration. But really they should let it go. Out of one from four homes are immigrants in USA. No-one dares to question them while non-US born Athletes win 100s of medals. Its sport. Not war. I repeated this. And its not like they don't deserve to be in team. So, as long as they are good, stop gossiping about them behind doors. I don't want to name people whom I am trying to point .. you know who cares. Make Mr. Boycott and Mr. Vaughen read this. Please Andrew do me this favor. So finally they let it go and clap and be proud of what they are doing for England rather show their frustration here and there

  • Deenesh on May 8, 2010, 21:00 GMT

    England Steamrolled SA. I dont think anyone predicted THAT. Final Four - Eng, SA, Aus, Ind/SL

  • Boostman on May 8, 2010, 16:58 GMT

    People complain about half the team not being English, but when you stop and think about it half the country isn't English so it's about the right mixture. England is a very diverse country so why cant the team be aswell?

  • SirFreddie on May 8, 2010, 15:53 GMT

    Andrew, you are trying to earn some cheap popularity with the Indians by ridiculing the English side. I am a Bangladeshi and I find England the most entertaining test team in the world. England have produced some of the most enthralling test matches in the last few years. Ashes 2005 and 2009 are my greatest sporting memory. Have you ever seen test matches played by India, Sri Lanka and Pakistan in the sub-continent? I don't think so. Because then you would never have called England a "boring" side.

  • sasi kumar on May 8, 2010, 15:05 GMT

    Kieswetter, Lumb, Pietersen, Morgan ....English? Oh! That's what they speak in?

  • Captain Swing on May 8, 2010, 14:20 GMT

    Smartass comments befitting someone who owns a gerbil. Dismissing "Stonewall" Atherton as useless is beyond belief. In the 1990s the "Cricket Circus of Calamity" never lost a home series to India, Pakistan or South Africa and they beat Pakistan in Pakistan. Luke Wright's one big shot has brought him more sixes than anyone else in the England team. And yes, I have lost my sense of humour: a gerbil for God's sake, when proper Englishmen own pit bulls called razor or bullet.

  • jimmy b on May 8, 2010, 12:31 GMT

    Very funny. Fingers crossed our team of mercenaries can string together a few good performances eh!

  • Ankur on May 8, 2010, 11:18 GMT

    Spectacular reading kind sir giggled like a school girl all the way through , fantastic word play many thanks

  • Karthick on May 8, 2010, 10:19 GMT

    United States of South Africa - That was a good one...

    But at least England had the nerve to pick Lamb and Kieswetter ahead of the master trundlers Trott and Denly (I would like to meet the man who thought this opening pair could win 20 over matches)...

    Lumb is a quick scorer but shivers at the very thought of spin (what was Warnie doing at Hampshire)...Kieswetter has shown only one shot - over long off - so would like to see some more of him before passing judgment...

  • Abhishek Sinha on May 8, 2010, 9:46 GMT

    Sorry buddy, half of your team (English if you are) consists of South African strength who are naturally best fielders!!!!!!

  • Sharma Elanthiraiyan on May 8, 2010, 9:32 GMT

    Nice one, :)

  • Shubhang on May 8, 2010, 9:14 GMT

    Could this be England? Nopes - it's the United States of South Africa, Ireland and the minor dependencies

  • nincompoop on May 8, 2010, 8:22 GMT

    right said Hughes...but i knew that this team can do wonders..wish we can get more batsmen like Pietersen...

  • Jordan on May 8, 2010, 8:14 GMT

    'They are still English of course' Uhhh actually most of them don't seem to be....

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  • Jordan on May 8, 2010, 8:14 GMT

    'They are still English of course' Uhhh actually most of them don't seem to be....

  • nincompoop on May 8, 2010, 8:22 GMT

    right said Hughes...but i knew that this team can do wonders..wish we can get more batsmen like Pietersen...

  • Shubhang on May 8, 2010, 9:14 GMT

    Could this be England? Nopes - it's the United States of South Africa, Ireland and the minor dependencies

  • Sharma Elanthiraiyan on May 8, 2010, 9:32 GMT

    Nice one, :)

  • Abhishek Sinha on May 8, 2010, 9:46 GMT

    Sorry buddy, half of your team (English if you are) consists of South African strength who are naturally best fielders!!!!!!

  • Karthick on May 8, 2010, 10:19 GMT

    United States of South Africa - That was a good one...

    But at least England had the nerve to pick Lamb and Kieswetter ahead of the master trundlers Trott and Denly (I would like to meet the man who thought this opening pair could win 20 over matches)...

    Lumb is a quick scorer but shivers at the very thought of spin (what was Warnie doing at Hampshire)...Kieswetter has shown only one shot - over long off - so would like to see some more of him before passing judgment...

  • Ankur on May 8, 2010, 11:18 GMT

    Spectacular reading kind sir giggled like a school girl all the way through , fantastic word play many thanks

  • jimmy b on May 8, 2010, 12:31 GMT

    Very funny. Fingers crossed our team of mercenaries can string together a few good performances eh!

  • Captain Swing on May 8, 2010, 14:20 GMT

    Smartass comments befitting someone who owns a gerbil. Dismissing "Stonewall" Atherton as useless is beyond belief. In the 1990s the "Cricket Circus of Calamity" never lost a home series to India, Pakistan or South Africa and they beat Pakistan in Pakistan. Luke Wright's one big shot has brought him more sixes than anyone else in the England team. And yes, I have lost my sense of humour: a gerbil for God's sake, when proper Englishmen own pit bulls called razor or bullet.

  • sasi kumar on May 8, 2010, 15:05 GMT

    Kieswetter, Lumb, Pietersen, Morgan ....English? Oh! That's what they speak in?