Ashes February 1, 2011

What's nearly as bad as being stuck in a lift with Brett Lee?

Andrew Hughes answers this question and brings up some existential ones too

Saturday, 29th January What could be more teeth-grindingly depressing than the appalling news that the years 2013 to 2015 will contain no less than THREE Ashes series? Well one or two things, I suppose. Wolverhampton in the rain. Discovering that Osama Bin Laden has moved in next door. Being trapped overnight in a lift with Brett Lee. Discovering that Brett has brought his guitar with him. But that’s about all.

The only consolation is that by the autumn of 2015, all those people for whom the Ashes is more important than cricket will have come to understand. They too will be sick of the brain-numbing hype-mongery, the plague of pifflesome previews and the Graeme Swann video diaries. Personally, I will be retiring to a salt hotel on the edge of the Atacama Desert in May 2013 where I will remain until it is all over. You are welcome to join me. Just as long as you don’t mention the A-word.

Sunday, 30th January So now we’re booing Michael Clarke? Really? Does the egregious Mr Pietersen get such treatment even though every time he opens his mouth he sounds like a particularly tactless Terminator trying to blend into human society? Did Paul Collingwood feel his lugs humming with boos for those long periods in his Test career when he appeared not to know which way up to hold the bat? Did grumpy old Ricky Ponting get booed? Well, you get the idea, anyway.

Michael Clarke is a good cricketer out of form, which it seems is a lot worse than being a bad cricketer out of form. Worse still, he has committed the heinous crime of being a celebrity. But why is he a celebrity? Did he once eat a plate of cockroaches on a jungle reality show? Was he involved in a love triangle with a waitress and the Foreign Minister? Did he come third in a televised Latin dance competition? No, he’s a celebrity because he’s very good at cricket. He’s a fair dinkum celebrity, you might say, if “fair dinkum” is the kind of phrase you like to use.

Monday, 31st January One of the oddities of modern cricket is how little its practitioners seem to enjoy playing it; indeed their enjoyment of said pastime seems to decline at the same rate with which their salaries increase. The more money you throw at a cricketer, it seems, the more likely he is to complain about having to play cricket. Take Jesse Ryder. He has informed us, via that open drainage pipe to the ego, Twitter, that having to play for Wellington the other day was, “a waste of time”.

Now, if he was suggesting that, set against the vastness of the universe, our little sport is an insignificant speck in the vacuum cleaner of time or if he was attempting to communicate some of the existential pointlessness of all human endeavour, then fair enough. But I have a feeling that “waste of time” is just code for “I’m too important”. You would have thought he’d be happy just be fit, healthy and playing the game he is so talented at. But no. It seems that Hollywood Jesse picks his movies these days.

And then there’s KP. The man is a PR volcano, a brooding, rumbling presence who every so often erupts in an explosion of hot, gassy nonsense, spewing dusty clichés and molten inanities in all directions.

“Our schedule is ridiculous going into this World Cup. It has been for England teams for a long time and that’s probably why England have not done well in World Cups.”

Yes Kevin. That’s probably why England have never won the World Cup. Because they’ve wasted their time playing 50-over cricket in preparation for a 50-over cricket tournament, when they could have been busy playing golf, opening supermarkets or spending quality time on Twitter.

Andrew Hughes is a writer currently based in England

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