Ashes January 9, 2011

The dullest Ashes ever

And the BCCI's fetish for sand-based full-cranial immersion

Wednesday, January 5th Four walkovers and a stalemate. This has been the dullest Ashes series in living memory and still it goes on. I feel like a tourist whose long-awaited dream holiday has turned into a nightmare, trapped in a dingy hotel above a 24-hour Barmy Army karaoke bar, suffering from ear-ache and chronic disillusionment and counting the days until it is all over. It has been the triumph of the competent over the shambolic. England have done well, no doubt, but they play cricket like Oliver Cromwell might have done, if he hadn’t thought it the devil’s work. It’s been so dull that even Paul Collingwood has had enough.

And throughout, there has been the insistent drumbeat of patriotic bias, as welcome in the commentary booth as a nest of scorpions in your biscuit jar. Chief cheerleader is Ian Botham. Listening to his gratingly one-sided contributions is like being hit on the head repeatedly by a white and red inflatable hammer. When Phil Hughes half-heartedly claimed a catch today, Beefy exploded. Clearly, Hughes was a cheat. A lesser man might have reflected on some of the other examples of sharp practice in recent years, from the unorthodox use of Murray Mints in 2005 to Strauss’s “catch” at Lord’s in 2009. But not Beefy. This is the Ashes. It’s us and them. If you’re not with us, you’re against us. God Save the Queen! Pass the earplugs.

Thursday, January 6th The BCCI do not want to use the UDRS system and have refused an invitation to go and watch it in action in Australia, reminding us that sand-based full-cranial immersion remains as popular amongst sports administrators as it does in the ostrich community. Loathe it or tolerate it, UDRS has become part of the cricket experience. Watching the game without referrals, HotSpots, traffic lights and snickometers already seems an antiquated pastime, part of cricket’s yesteryear, like the days when TV companies couldn’t afford a camera at both ends and the viewer spent 50% of their time watching to see which way the batsman’s bottom moved.

So what’s the BCCI’s problem? The suggestion that they can’t afford it is entertaining, but not particularly credible. They have said that they have serious doubts about its accuracy, but that’s not the point. Accurate or not, if everyone else is using it, so should India. We need a level playing field of inaccuracy. Besides, lots of things that aren’t completely accurate are still an integral part of the game. Take Sreesanth for example. The poor chap was beside himself in Cape Town when a couple of appeals went against him. If you won’t embrace UDRS for any other reason, Mr Srinivasan, then do it for the sake of Sree’s blood pressure.

Friday, January 7th I read puzzling news from the Caribbean. Apparently, there is to be another Twenty20 competition in those parts, only six months after the last one. It is the kind of overkill that the ECB would be proud of. So who’s going to win this time?

“The Red Force is going to wipe everything away in front of them,” says Trinidad’s manager, Omar Khan.

“Last year we were accused of leaving coffee stains and isotonic energy drink spills in the Queen’s Park Oval canteen. So I have issued the players with rubber gloves and absorbent wipes and I can guarantee that the players will not leave the ground until all the work surfaces are spotless. As for the cricket, I expect that we will go out in the semi-finals again, but it doesn’t matter because everyone knows we are the best.”

Andrew Hughes is a writer currently based in England

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • testli5504537 on January 31, 2011, 0:14 GMT

    how do your readers not know you are taking the piss??

    your next column should be about sarcasm, and how people can spot it in an article

  • testli5504537 on January 13, 2011, 11:30 GMT

    @Andrew Ramage, what makes you say "everyone outside India"? Indians in & outside India suspect the same ulterior motives behind BCCI's stance. We the fans are more than happy to use UDRS, it's just the BCCI administrators.

    "which way the batsman's bottom moved" was hilarious. LOL.

  • testli5504537 on January 10, 2011, 5:53 GMT

    Mr. Huges seems to be either an Oz or an Oz fan. His comments suggest that his problem lies not in the way the series was played but due to his suffering from ear-ache and chronic disillusionment and counting the days until it is all over as he backed the Oz to win. Calling such a well played and fought series to be duller than the recent whitewash is another indication of it. So Mr. Huges, if you want to really enjoy cricket get yourself treated for your mentioned ilnesses and before that your complaining mentality. Such comments may not affect you but will definitely bug the real cricket followers. Take care

  • testli5504537 on January 10, 2011, 5:21 GMT

    Being an Indian, I don't understand BCCI's no UDRS use policy. The cup is NOT HALF EMPTY Mr. Srinivasan, it's half full. The UDRS is not a 100% accurate, ok agreed, but it does reduce the number of inaccuracies. This guy's going to be the president soon, there goes all hope of India using the UDRS. BCCI is going to bully world cricket and Chennai is going to bully the IPL. I bet Sninivasan sleeps well at night

  • testli5504537 on January 10, 2011, 5:05 GMT

    If UDRS is the future, then BCCI should go with it. Ofcourse there are concerns with accuracy, inplementation etc etc. Unless and untill everyone participates, how will the system evolve? BCCI being "bully" in these days, should take this opportunity to contribute to the better of global cricket, apart from spending energy in the IPL and its issues. This will inprove its image and if they act responsibly they will get respect from everyone.

  • testli5504537 on January 10, 2011, 4:44 GMT

    Hahaha... "the viewer spent 50% of their time watching to see which way the batsman’s bottom moved" ....that line really cracked me up! Good article Mr. Hughes

  • testli5504537 on January 10, 2011, 3:42 GMT

    Beefy rulz

  • testli5504537 on January 10, 2011, 3:08 GMT

    I personally would like to see Indian matches involve UDRS. HotSpot, HawkEye, VirtualEye are great, not foolproof - but still preferable over a manual umpire.

    BCCI's umpteen reservations against UDRS in it's current form are not without merit. Please refer to the later section Sambit Bal's "Beware a self-absorbed India" also in cricinfo to understand BCCI's position.

  • testli5504537 on January 10, 2011, 2:24 GMT

    It may have been the dullest Ashes ever for some. That's something that's in the eye of the beholder. But I've just witnessed NZ v Pakistan and the gulf in standard between that and the Ashes games was, believe me, like the Arabian Gulf and the Gulf of Mexico rolled into one.

  • testli5504537 on January 10, 2011, 2:00 GMT

    Mr. Hughes, I can only assume you are drunk (still or again), Australian, joking or watching your first Ashes series. Those of us who are sober, English, serious about cricket or have been watching for a while (in my case since 1958/9) didn't find it dull at all. After having our noses rubbed in the dirt by Australia for 24 years, any series win would have been a cause for rejoicing. A resounding win was beyond our wildest dreams. Calling it dull is like calling a meal boring because all the courses were delicious. However, I do agree with you about Ian Botham. He had no clue as a captain and he has maintained his level of insight as a commentator.

  • No featured comments at the moment.