November 6, 2010

Ashes

Michael Clarke is Churchill, Michael Clarke is Dumbo

Andrew Hughes
Mickey Arthur at a press conference, Perth, December 8, 2008
Too late Mickey Arthur realised as his molars cracked that the aliens had tampered with his toffee  © Getty Images
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Wednesday, 3rd November The head of some company or other responsible for producing a kind of digital whatchamacallit today tried to reassure reluctant Indian cricketers that there is nothing to be scared of, that everything is perfectly safe.

“We need to spend time with umpires and players, captains of teams, so that we can open up the entire Pandora’s box of the technology…”

I’m not sure this is a great sales pitch. Pandora’s box, as we know, was a container reputed to contain all the plagues, evils and diseases of the world, which, once released, could never be returned. No wonder Sachin wants nothing to do with it.

Thursday, 4th November According to our chums with the laptops and laminated passes, Marcus North is either clinging on to his Test spot by his fingernails or about to be made captain, or possibly both. Furthermore the Australian dressing room is riven with infighting and yet, at the same time, the epitome of loving harmony; whilst Michael Clarke, depending on which paper you read, is a commanding leader of great sagacity and authority or an incompetent fool who can barely be trusted to arrange his knife and fork, let alone a 5-4 field.

It’s all rather baffling for the humble cricket fan, but fortunately help is at hand. The Department of Frivolous Algebra at the University of Fake Science have today explained this strange phenomenon with a useful formula:

Hype = X (Y*Z)

in which X is an event of no significance*, Y is a variable representing the number of journalists who have blagged a holiday to Australia, and Z represents the amount of time said journalists have on their hands once they get there.

In this case it appears that the operation of the Hype Equation is resulting in the inflation of a mid-ranking struggle between an ordinary yet inconsistent team and their inconsistent yet ordinary opponents into the greatest sporting clash since Ali versus Foreman. Meanwhile numbers 1 and 2 in the Test rankings are limbering up for a three-match series in December. Hype anyone? Apparently not.

Friday, 5th November It seems that South Africans are not yet fully conversant with one of the great literary genres. A cricket autobiography is supposed to be a tiresome collection of dressing-room pranks interspersed with golfing stories, lists of scores and excuses. It is designed to be a birthday present, a draught excluder, a coffee table filler, or if it is large enough, a useful hurling implement with which to stun a charging rhinoceros. It is not, however, intended to be in any way interesting or readable.

Yet last week Herschelle Gibbs released his unputdownable tale of sex, cliques and rock and roll. And now we have a taster of former coach Mickey “Micky” Arthur’s contribution to sporting literature, a manuscript so dangerous that it has already provoked the threat of legal action from the PCB. The passage of the book that has stimulated Ijaz Butt’s sue-reflex relates to a one-day game back in 2007, a game Pakistan lost. As we all now know, match-fixing, spot-fixing or associated general naughtiness is the only possible explanation for a Pakistan defeat:

“How else do you explain a batting side needing only 40 runs with seven wickets in hand and still losing?”

How else indeed, Mickey. Of course it could just have been that Pakistan didn’t play very well. But, hey, who wants to pay R154 to read about that?

* Such as, for example, the news that some guy in a hotel bar reckons he heard some bloke say that he had it on good authority from his uncle’s first wife that a geezer who’d been to school with Ricky Ponting’s cousin met a woman who might have been Greg Chappell’s cleaner, who swore blind that she heard Marcus North or someone who looks very much like him say that he’d like to be Australian captain.

Andrew Hughes is a writer currently based in England

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Posted by Sir_Freddie on (November 11, 2010, 8:20 GMT)

The Ashes is the ONLY cricket series/tournament that matters. It produces the most exciting and dramatic cricket possible. On the other hand test matches involving teams like India, Pakistan and Sri Lanka played on placid batting wickets are boring as hell. What's there to like about a match in which a team scores 600/6 dec in the first innings, and in reply the opposition scores 637/7?

Posted by bajirao on (November 10, 2010, 22:03 GMT)

I disagree with @soumya saying "it is not a world event." For true lovers of the game the Ashes is a contest they can't wait to watch. It is NOT a non-event. It brings out the best in both sides and will surely have a worldwide TV audience.

Posted by Meety on (November 8, 2010, 6:41 GMT)

@ soumya Who cares whether you like the Ashes or not? Of course you wouldn't care about the passion or rivalry being put on the line every two years - (assuming you are of Indian persuassion), your BCCI are too scared to schedule regular battles with Pakistan - because the Pakis historically win Indo/Pak encounters.

Posted by Circe on (November 8, 2010, 5:57 GMT)

Sorry if I am mistaken, but shouln't the Hype equation be typeset as Hype(X) = Y*Z

Where Hype(X) is the hype surrounding the negligible event X(in some normalized units) and Y and Z are as in your definitions.

Posted by Saleem Abbasi on (November 8, 2010, 5:12 GMT)

Well, Ashes, one of the greatest rivalries in the cricket world. Its a competition b/w two sides but fans love it as its a match of worlds. You choose one side and follow the classic event anxiously. Besides India and Pakistan cricket fever, I think Ashes is also equally watched and followed series. So, I would say that a balanced Ashes series is expected this time.

Posted by ooga on (November 7, 2010, 18:04 GMT)

"an ordinary yet inconsistent team and their inconsistent yet ordinary opponents". The best part is, which one is which? Works both ways!

Posted by WaXi on (November 7, 2010, 5:14 GMT)

@ soumya Ordinary Teams? are you really in your senses? Australia dominated the world for more than 2 Decades recently and overall they rules on cricket since the first test match and they can come hard to you. Its right they are not in good form right now but they will be in form soon. You will see that..... and India has just reached on number 1 spot if in future india deoped up to 2nd, 3rd, or even fourth number(which is on cards with ordinary bowling attack and retirement of Dravid, Sachin and comp.) will you say that india is an ordinary team :-D

Posted by paddy on (November 6, 2010, 21:17 GMT)

@soumya just the things you point out in the end are the main things that make it the most beautifull thing in sport play for pride is the one of the best sights in sport

Posted by shehanpj on (November 6, 2010, 18:31 GMT)

:) haha this ashes thing man, actually should put to ashes for good!. for the real cricket fans around the world, this is an insignificant, non-event which this bankcrupt owners of the game desperately try to make a big deal. nobody gives two hoots unless they play some good competitive cricket, like last india vs austrailia series. we saw this summer, how that aamir boy squared up all these overrated hallow-hyped, bull-egoed, so called ashes players left, right & the centre, all he missed was a brave captian with some vision & good fielders to hold those lollypops, & the result would have been far too embarrasing for those ashes nations. it's never too late for those ashes nations to learn to appriciate\enjoy the game of cricket no matter where it comming from, rather than running blindly after the mirrage of their ever loosing ashes pride!.

Posted by Ska on (November 6, 2010, 16:56 GMT)

Mr Hughes, this is one of your best works in recent times.

Allow me - another neutral to the Ashes - to differ with @Soumya. Surely you are a minority. You are either a fan of the game or you're not; that doesn't change depending on whether or not your team is playing (especially if the 2 sides are so evenly matched & are quite capable of producing briiliance at the drop of a hat). GO ENGLAND.

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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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