June 26, 2010

Australia and the art of satire

So they lost to England in the first two ODIs
21

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that so many members of the general public chose to gather in Cardiff on Thursday to watch a performance of this outdated art form.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.

Andrew Hughes is a writer currently based in England

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • 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.

  • 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..

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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 ;)

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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...

  • 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

  • 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?

  • 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.

  • 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..

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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 ;)

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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...

  • 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

  • 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?

  • Ankur on June 26, 2010, 11:57 GMT

    I thinks its a good take on "50 over cricket is dead" story circulated by eng and aussies....

    In india for eg,there's a mad rush to watch 50over games and you will hardly find anyone in test-match unless india is batting well.

    I think 50 over games does need a few tweak here and there............but it definitely doesn't need a "pink slip".

  • Hulusian on June 26, 2010, 9:51 GMT

    I think I understand the sarcasm. I don't believe Andrew is taking a shot at England or Australia, only the critics of ODI's. If a modest to big crowd is turning up, the game is still popular. I hope ODI's stick around long enough to see the T20's leave Empire soil, possibly for USA, Mexico and Canada. I love Andrew's figures of speech, "bully without his fist", "hirsute train to Beard Town", in particular.

  • Sach on June 26, 2010, 9:50 GMT

    Satire at it's best, this article is. Brilliant Andrew, as always.

    Oh and don't worry about people like Sandmanesque above, who doesn't seem to be able to understand the concept of satire. Keep up the good work.

  • Arshad Siddiqui on June 26, 2010, 9:14 GMT

    a real piece of thrash it is ... Andrew

  • Patrick on June 26, 2010, 9:14 GMT

    Andrew, For what it's worth, I disagree with Sandmanesque. I found this decidedly amusing.

  • d.watner on June 26, 2010, 8:21 GMT

    why are u making excuses for the england wins? england is good enuf to beat the aussies so dont make xcuses

  • TD_160 on June 26, 2010, 7:27 GMT

    Nice one. Just as England, you too are in good form. Sometimes we get some fairly ordinary writing from you, but that is to be expected - it must be stressful to have to write a witty and interesting article twice every week; and I suppose there aren't always interesting and witty observations to be made in the world of cricket. All in all, I think you do a fine job of providing a refeshing alternative to all the other regular segments on this website - and I admit, it is my favourite.

  • Anurag Acharya on June 26, 2010, 6:35 GMT

    Excellently put Andrew!! Thumbs up!!

  • Anonymous on June 26, 2010, 6:27 GMT

    "And Ricky still can’t bring himself to ride the hirsute train all the way to Beard Town."

    This is a wonderful line!

  • Greg on June 26, 2010, 6:02 GMT

    Quite right. 50 over cricket serves exactly the purpose it is designed for - no more, no less: a full day's cricket with a result at the end of it. And will therefore continue to attract the spectators no matter how often the commentators rant on about "the boring middle overs" and as long as the administrators allow them to turn up.

  • Sandmanesque on June 26, 2010, 6:01 GMT

    Andrew, dont take this personally, but you are remarkably un-funny. Now maybe it is a personal thing, maybe not. If it is just me who finds your articles to be not even remotely close to being funny, then you have nothing to worry about. However, I suspect that I am not the first to say this to you. I can't quite pinpoint what it is that makes you so not funny. You seem to have a solid grasp over language, you seem to know all the small tricks in the trade to ensure "local funniness". However, you seem to fall just short of getting global funniness in your articles, the sort of coherent thread of humour that makes a written piece truely humorous. Maybe you have writers block. I personally believe that it is impossible for A given writer to see and depict humour in every possible situation/topic. Maybe you just have been making bad choices for stuff to write about you know. Anyway. Hope you sort it out soon

    End rant

  • No featured comments at the moment.

  • Sandmanesque on June 26, 2010, 6:01 GMT

    Andrew, dont take this personally, but you are remarkably un-funny. Now maybe it is a personal thing, maybe not. If it is just me who finds your articles to be not even remotely close to being funny, then you have nothing to worry about. However, I suspect that I am not the first to say this to you. I can't quite pinpoint what it is that makes you so not funny. You seem to have a solid grasp over language, you seem to know all the small tricks in the trade to ensure "local funniness". However, you seem to fall just short of getting global funniness in your articles, the sort of coherent thread of humour that makes a written piece truely humorous. Maybe you have writers block. I personally believe that it is impossible for A given writer to see and depict humour in every possible situation/topic. Maybe you just have been making bad choices for stuff to write about you know. Anyway. Hope you sort it out soon

    End rant

  • Greg on June 26, 2010, 6:02 GMT

    Quite right. 50 over cricket serves exactly the purpose it is designed for - no more, no less: a full day's cricket with a result at the end of it. And will therefore continue to attract the spectators no matter how often the commentators rant on about "the boring middle overs" and as long as the administrators allow them to turn up.

  • Anonymous on June 26, 2010, 6:27 GMT

    "And Ricky still can’t bring himself to ride the hirsute train all the way to Beard Town."

    This is a wonderful line!

  • Anurag Acharya on June 26, 2010, 6:35 GMT

    Excellently put Andrew!! Thumbs up!!

  • TD_160 on June 26, 2010, 7:27 GMT

    Nice one. Just as England, you too are in good form. Sometimes we get some fairly ordinary writing from you, but that is to be expected - it must be stressful to have to write a witty and interesting article twice every week; and I suppose there aren't always interesting and witty observations to be made in the world of cricket. All in all, I think you do a fine job of providing a refeshing alternative to all the other regular segments on this website - and I admit, it is my favourite.

  • d.watner on June 26, 2010, 8:21 GMT

    why are u making excuses for the england wins? england is good enuf to beat the aussies so dont make xcuses

  • Patrick on June 26, 2010, 9:14 GMT

    Andrew, For what it's worth, I disagree with Sandmanesque. I found this decidedly amusing.

  • Arshad Siddiqui on June 26, 2010, 9:14 GMT

    a real piece of thrash it is ... Andrew

  • Sach on June 26, 2010, 9:50 GMT

    Satire at it's best, this article is. Brilliant Andrew, as always.

    Oh and don't worry about people like Sandmanesque above, who doesn't seem to be able to understand the concept of satire. Keep up the good work.

  • Hulusian on June 26, 2010, 9:51 GMT

    I think I understand the sarcasm. I don't believe Andrew is taking a shot at England or Australia, only the critics of ODI's. If a modest to big crowd is turning up, the game is still popular. I hope ODI's stick around long enough to see the T20's leave Empire soil, possibly for USA, Mexico and Canada. I love Andrew's figures of speech, "bully without his fist", "hirsute train to Beard Town", in particular.