June 26, 2010

Australia and the art of satire

Andrew Hughes

Graeme Swann forgets it’s just an ODI and indulges in an unseemly spot of fist-brandishing © Getty Images

Fifty-over cricket is dead; I think we can all agree on that. It’s so last century; it’s a form of public spectacle as passé as karaoke and bear-baiting.

It is, therefore, regrettable that so many members of the general public chose to gather in Cardiff on Thursday to watch a performance of this outdated art form. Don’t they read the papers? Have they not listened to James Sutherland? The ECB had done their best to discourage spectators, holding the first two games of the series at the extremities of the island, but still, certain reactionary members of the public seem unable to get with the programme.

To mark their disgust at being forced to play such an antiquated format, Australia deliberately did not hit their straps. Failure to hit one’s straps is, as we know, a very serious matter in Antipodean circles. Outwardly they appeared the same. One or two of them retain a quaint attachment to peroxide. Shane Watson still looks as though he may burst out of his shirt, Incredible Hulk-like at any moment; indeed I believe he may have inflated himself a notch or two for the occasion. And Ricky still can’t bring himself to ride the hirsute train all the way to Beard Town.

But make no mistake, this was an Australian team playing under protest. And to reinforce the point they deliberately turned up without a single fast bowler. Instead, they wrote, “fast medium” next to Watson’s name on the team sheet; a description that frankly borders on the sarcastic. An Australian team without fast bowlers is like a bully unable to make a fist. Free from the threat of retaliation, England were able to batter their visitors with impunity and we were treated to the novel spectacle of a succession of sunset-clad tourists going to pieces at the merest sniff of leather.

The sight of Paine, Ponting, Clarke and Watson getting a little flappy with the short ball provoked Michael Holding to nostalgia. He reminded us that it was not so long ago that short-pitched bowling was considered, in England and Australia, to be, if you’ll excuse the pun, beyond the pale. This, of course, was a view not widely held in England in 1932, or indeed in Australia in 1975, but which became popular at some point during the summer of 1976 and remained so until roughly the moment that Courtney Walsh bowled his last nose-rearranging lifter.

Anyway it was a hollow victory in the end for England and their patented “no fear” cricket (a concept that boils down to a realisation, some 14 years after the introduction of fielding restrictions, that it might be a good wheeze to have a swing in the early overs). By allowing themselves to be spanked for the second time in a week, the Australians were clearly making a satirical point about the need for reform of the 50-over format. Sadly, it appears that this subtlety went completely over the heads of the spectators, who by turning up in the first place showed themselves to be completely out of touch with the modern game. Frankly, our administrators deserve better.

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Posted by Sach on (June 27, 2010, 9:50 GMT)

Andrew, here's a thought. The next time you write a satirical article, even if it is so only remotely, you should include a link to another page perhaps with a warning like "Warning, Spoiler Alert" and on that page describe what the gist of the article is. Will do a world of good to people like Sandmanesque.

Posted by Rahul on (June 27, 2010, 5:08 GMT)

The Hulk reference to shane watson was amazing..i truely blv there is no better person to play hulk in Hulk 3 if it ever gets made..all you need to do is just apply loads of green..no need for extra makeup..

Posted by Deenesh on (June 27, 2010, 1:50 GMT)

What are you gonna say if Australia comes back to win the series? Being the best team and having a reputation of dominancy often comes with great repsonsibility. Every game the Aussies lose is overly analyzed, and criticized. They may the best team to play the game, but they are human.

Posted by Decorum on (June 27, 2010, 1:34 GMT)

Sandmanesque: you need to ask yourself why you are posting this sort of thing. It serves no positive purpose so your motives can only be unpleasant. If you don't like Mr Hughes' writing, just don't read it. Please don't spoil the enjoyment of those of us who find him very entertaining by offering up this sort of malignant contribution. De gustibus non est disputandum.

Posted by Sandmanesque on (June 26, 2010, 22:26 GMT)

Wow, If I ever desired a public lynching, or a crate of really rotten eggs, or a combination of both, I should just leave a comment on your blog saying that you aren't funny and adding my address at the end of the comment :P It's quite touching. I have tears in my eyes, although I suspect that has to do with the fact that I just woke up and seem to have the mother of all hangovers. Maybe, I should , as somebody suggested, get a job or something, expand my vocabulary to have at my disposal synonyms of the word "funny", and look up "satire" in the Oxford dictionary. Well, in these times of crisis, it might not be so easy to get a job or something (I wonder what alternative means of keeping oneself busy the "something" is supposed to signify), but yeah, I'll definitely do the other two before I come back and gripe about the lack of humour in your articles ;)

Posted by ram on (June 26, 2010, 17:16 GMT)

The key point is that the paying public in a given venue get the chance to go to an ODI only once or twice in a year and grounds will fill up be it in Aus, Ind or UK. The administrators, players and opinion makers keep forgetting that. It may seem drab playing and opinating about 40 odd matches, but they are forgetting why they are doing it in the 1st place.

Posted by Zohaib H. Shah on (June 26, 2010, 12:49 GMT)

Another good article Mr. Hughes, "a concept that boils down to a realisation, some 14 years after the introduction of fielding restrictions, that it might be a good wheeze to have a swing in the early overs"; was simply awesome.

As a suggestion, perhaps you should start every article by stating that a) this is not real news or atleast is partially fictionalized and b) the column represents a cricket watcher's diary with occassional humor thrown in, nothing more.

Maybe that will get the "critics" off your backs.

Posted by anubhav on (June 26, 2010, 12:17 GMT)

@sandmanesque: dont take this personally, but you take yourself far too seriouslty. Now maybe it is a personal thing, maybe not. If it is just me who finds your comments to be even remotely close to being trash, then you have nothing to worry about. However, I suspect that I am not the first to say this to you atleast in this forum. I can't quite pinpoint what it is that makes it trash. You seem to have a solid grasp over language but is it possible, ever so slightly that you may have a blog of yourself where you write stuff which doesnt try to make people laugh .. try it once in a while.... and trust me, trying to tickle the funny bone of 100's of different kinds of ppl by writing abt the same cricketers and the same 9 teams is quite hard, there may be good stuff to write about sometimes, sometimes theres no dope to work with at all.. so when the writers do have their off days, it is best to wait for the next article, personally though i found this quite amusing...

Posted by Shades on (June 26, 2010, 12:14 GMT)

Some readers apparently took this personally.

Was just an article and a well articulated, but satiric, way of putting forward a viewpoint on what the writer felt, there is.

I couldnt make adequate sense of the title though. Not to say it doesnt make any sense but certainly could've been different and more interesting.

All said, a good article, with solid wordwork, instead of a plain-single-word (say 'funny' and all of its allowed variations) usage twice a sentence for 10 lines :)

Did you promise to be 'funny' to folks back home or soemthing? Cause apparently 'your' not being is 'hurting' people ...... Work on it :P

Posted by sulaiman on (June 26, 2010, 11:58 GMT)

sandmanesque: it is far easier to sit at the sidelines and hurl criticism, than to write in a public forum to begin with. your comments would be far more palatable if you hadn't chosen an article that, at least my several dozen friends and I, found uproariously funny. why don't you get a job or something?

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

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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