Ashes May 7, 2011

Three captains will lead to one KP

And what is the greatest sporting event on this planet?
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Tuesday, May 3rd The word ashes has many meanings. It’s the plural of a well-known species of tree belonging to the genus Fraxinus. It’s the correct phonetical transcription of the sound the Queen makes when she sneezes. But to Graeme Swann, it’s the name of the greatest sporting event on the planet. Don’t believe me? Here’s what he said in today’s Independent:

“The Ashes is the greatest sporting event on the planet.”

Told you. Graeme’s a likeable chap so let’s give him a chance. Is there any way in which this statement could be correct? Is there another dimension in which this might be true? Can it really be the case that an event watched by a small minority of people in two of the world’s 193 sovereign countries is the greatest on the planet? No, almost certainly not, and no.

It isn’t really his fault. Cricket hereabouts runs on Ashes time (for instance, it’s currently quarter past Ashes) and everything that is not Ashes exists in a haze of dreamy indifference, which might perhaps explain the continued existence of the County Championship, the world’s oldest living museum. He is a product of his cricket culture and his obsession with a little brown pot is, I suppose harmless.

And he does a nice line in old fashioned English understatement:

“We want to be No. 1 in both Test and one dayers. We’ve got a better chance of doing it in Test cricket, whereas the one-dayers might take a bit longer.”

Just a bit, Graeme…

Wednesday, May 4th As he gleamed under the floodlights, his burnished skin the colour of a nicely done barbecued sausage, Captain Shane knew the game was up. There was nothing left but to resort to that thing he does involving his nose, his forefinger and his thumb that looks as though he is trying to prevent a nosebleed but is actually his way of saying that he’d like to use the thick end of a cricket bat to bludgeon his colleagues to death one at a time, if cricket etiquette didn’t frown upon that sort of thing.

Stuart Binny was the main culprit. But as a fielding duffer myself, I enjoyed his performance, particularly his first error, in which the ball appeared to pass straight through his navel en route to the boundary. It is always reassuring to get a reminder that most professionals hate fielding just like the rest of us do. Let’s be honest, its an unpleasant, time-consuming and tedious activity, only enjoyed by a few South Africans and the odd Australian who has spent too long in the sun.

Thursday, May 5th What a splendid idea! Three captains! Everyone agrees that having a captain is a good thing. Far better, for example, than not having a captain. So three captains must be three times as good! And England have added a nice touch, ranking their captains based on the calibre of their private school. Extensive analysis reveals that their innovative three-headed skipper strategy will have the following outcome:

1. After a poor series against India and having relinquished two-thirds of his power, Andrew Strauss will be under intense pressure to step down. 2. Deputy Alastair Cook will be unavailable, a broken man, having dropped himself from the one-day team due to a strike rate of 7.00. 3. Deputy deputy, Stuart Broad, will be serving his third ban of the summer, this time for setting fire to the umpire’s shoes after a marginal wide call. 4. In the absence of anyone else, a fourth candidate will emerge, unite the three formats and lead England into a glorious new age of arm-waving, top-of-the-range sunglasses and flashy defeats. All hail the second coming of KP!

Andrew Hughes is a writer currently based in England

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Dinesh on May 8, 2011, 7:11 GMT

    what is the strike rate of Cook in one-day? is it 7.00 or 71.38? pls make the correction

  • Richard Montgomery on May 8, 2011, 7:10 GMT

    I don't think the greatness of an event should be judged by the number of people who watch it. After all, many people watch programmes such as X-factor but this wouldn't be considered the pinnacle of music - instead it's crass "entertainment" for those too ill-equipped with judgement to know better.

    To me greatness of a sporting event should be judged by:- a) does it involve great athletes? b) is it a one-on-one challenge? c) is it a real competition rather than an artificial one involving, say, orchestrated results? d) does it require multiple complimentary skills? e) does the sporting dimension trump the populist (e.g. TV) dimension?

    On that basis the Ashes certainly would stake a claim, as would the Oxford-Cambridge boat race. By contrast the IPL wouldn't feature at all...

  • Kumar on May 8, 2011, 1:54 GMT

    I wonder if we will have 3 separate vice captains as well!

  • Father on May 7, 2011, 23:02 GMT

    1. After a poor series against India and having relinquished two-thirds of his power, Andrew Strauss will be under intense pressure to step down. 2. Deputy Alastair Cook will be unavailable, a broken man, having dropped himself from the one-day team due to a strike rate of 7.00. 3. Deputy deputy, Stuart Broad, will be serving his third ban of the summer, this time for setting fire to the umpire’s shoes after a marginal wide call. 4. In the absence of anyone else, a fourth candidate will emerge, unite the three formats and lead England into a glorious new age of arm-waving, top-of-the-range sunglasses and flashy defeats. All hail the second coming of KP!

    Poor Predictions :(

  • Irfan Siddiqui on May 7, 2011, 21:37 GMT

    KP should be the captaint for Ebngland ...atleast for ODIs and T20. KP is a good leader compare to Cook and Broad or even Strauss

  • Anonymous on May 7, 2011, 18:47 GMT

    AWESOME!!!!!!!!!!!Couldnt stop laughing...KP is fantastic player

  • Roger on May 7, 2011, 16:24 GMT

    Good luck to Broad, Straussy and Alaistar :)

  • Anonymous on May 7, 2011, 16:19 GMT

    i cant get this....theory of three captains..... it will create a clash between there stratagies

  • Parth Tiwari on May 7, 2011, 14:02 GMT

    i really liked ur blog....i feel KP is the man whom the englishmen can rely on!!!!!!!!

  • Mathur on May 7, 2011, 11:27 GMT

    setting fire to the umpire’s shoes after a marginal wide call.,...

    Hilarious andrew... u r the man/..

  • Dinesh on May 8, 2011, 7:11 GMT

    what is the strike rate of Cook in one-day? is it 7.00 or 71.38? pls make the correction

  • Richard Montgomery on May 8, 2011, 7:10 GMT

    I don't think the greatness of an event should be judged by the number of people who watch it. After all, many people watch programmes such as X-factor but this wouldn't be considered the pinnacle of music - instead it's crass "entertainment" for those too ill-equipped with judgement to know better.

    To me greatness of a sporting event should be judged by:- a) does it involve great athletes? b) is it a one-on-one challenge? c) is it a real competition rather than an artificial one involving, say, orchestrated results? d) does it require multiple complimentary skills? e) does the sporting dimension trump the populist (e.g. TV) dimension?

    On that basis the Ashes certainly would stake a claim, as would the Oxford-Cambridge boat race. By contrast the IPL wouldn't feature at all...

  • Kumar on May 8, 2011, 1:54 GMT

    I wonder if we will have 3 separate vice captains as well!

  • Father on May 7, 2011, 23:02 GMT

    1. After a poor series against India and having relinquished two-thirds of his power, Andrew Strauss will be under intense pressure to step down. 2. Deputy Alastair Cook will be unavailable, a broken man, having dropped himself from the one-day team due to a strike rate of 7.00. 3. Deputy deputy, Stuart Broad, will be serving his third ban of the summer, this time for setting fire to the umpire’s shoes after a marginal wide call. 4. In the absence of anyone else, a fourth candidate will emerge, unite the three formats and lead England into a glorious new age of arm-waving, top-of-the-range sunglasses and flashy defeats. All hail the second coming of KP!

    Poor Predictions :(

  • Irfan Siddiqui on May 7, 2011, 21:37 GMT

    KP should be the captaint for Ebngland ...atleast for ODIs and T20. KP is a good leader compare to Cook and Broad or even Strauss

  • Anonymous on May 7, 2011, 18:47 GMT

    AWESOME!!!!!!!!!!!Couldnt stop laughing...KP is fantastic player

  • Roger on May 7, 2011, 16:24 GMT

    Good luck to Broad, Straussy and Alaistar :)

  • Anonymous on May 7, 2011, 16:19 GMT

    i cant get this....theory of three captains..... it will create a clash between there stratagies

  • Parth Tiwari on May 7, 2011, 14:02 GMT

    i really liked ur blog....i feel KP is the man whom the englishmen can rely on!!!!!!!!

  • Mathur on May 7, 2011, 11:27 GMT

    setting fire to the umpire’s shoes after a marginal wide call.,...

    Hilarious andrew... u r the man/..

  • Anonymous on May 7, 2011, 9:38 GMT

    The ashes article was very funny , and absolutely right if you are an Englishman or god forbid a orrible australian ! . And the return of the KP as Englands captain in all 3 formats cannot be rulled out . Love him or hate him , hes 1 of a kind that fella .

  • Arup Saikia on May 7, 2011, 7:51 GMT

    You've neglected the "fifth": Flower may be called up to be non-playing captain in all 3 formats

  • scott on May 7, 2011, 7:51 GMT

    hear hear!

  • krazycric on May 7, 2011, 7:31 GMT

    "Sound that the Queen makes when she sneeze", "Just a bit, Graeme" and "Second coming of KP"!

    Brilliant!!

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  • krazycric on May 7, 2011, 7:31 GMT

    "Sound that the Queen makes when she sneeze", "Just a bit, Graeme" and "Second coming of KP"!

    Brilliant!!

  • scott on May 7, 2011, 7:51 GMT

    hear hear!

  • Arup Saikia on May 7, 2011, 7:51 GMT

    You've neglected the "fifth": Flower may be called up to be non-playing captain in all 3 formats

  • Anonymous on May 7, 2011, 9:38 GMT

    The ashes article was very funny , and absolutely right if you are an Englishman or god forbid a orrible australian ! . And the return of the KP as Englands captain in all 3 formats cannot be rulled out . Love him or hate him , hes 1 of a kind that fella .

  • Mathur on May 7, 2011, 11:27 GMT

    setting fire to the umpire’s shoes after a marginal wide call.,...

    Hilarious andrew... u r the man/..

  • Parth Tiwari on May 7, 2011, 14:02 GMT

    i really liked ur blog....i feel KP is the man whom the englishmen can rely on!!!!!!!!

  • Anonymous on May 7, 2011, 16:19 GMT

    i cant get this....theory of three captains..... it will create a clash between there stratagies

  • Roger on May 7, 2011, 16:24 GMT

    Good luck to Broad, Straussy and Alaistar :)

  • Anonymous on May 7, 2011, 18:47 GMT

    AWESOME!!!!!!!!!!!Couldnt stop laughing...KP is fantastic player

  • Irfan Siddiqui on May 7, 2011, 21:37 GMT

    KP should be the captaint for Ebngland ...atleast for ODIs and T20. KP is a good leader compare to Cook and Broad or even Strauss