May 25, 2011

Straussy’s book, and a pretend Test series

Andrew Hughes
Misbah-ul-Haq takes a breather during nets, Georgetown, May 10, 2011
Misbah-ul-Haq uses a hand-sign to illustrate his point about the cyclical nature of fashion  © Associated Press
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Saturday, 21st May Though the market for Ashes literature may be more crowded than an elevator at an obesity convention, it seems there’s always room for one more, hence the existence of Andrew Strauss’s new effort, Winning the Ashes Down Under: The Captain’s Story. Described by one reviewer as “another bloody Ashes book”, it is a stirring tale of how a team of professional sportsmen battled against the odds to beat another team who weren’t quite as good. This epic rollercoaster story is told in three parts:

Part One: Arrive in Australia Part Two: Beat lower-ranked Test opponents Part Three: Return home

Sunday, 22nd May It is a peculiar thing, this Morgan situation. A man makes himself available to play Tests for England, flies all the way back from India to take part in a trial game to demonstrate his readiness to play Test cricket, and then has to answer questions about his priorities. It seems quite straightforward. He wants to test himself against the best players on the biggest stages, so he spends his early season time playing high-pressure cricket in the IPL rather than pottering around in the shires accumulating easy runs. What’s the problem?

Tuesday, 24th May Pakistan’s visit to the Caribbean has come to an end with a 1-1 Test scoreline that left the viewer wondering whether these teams were equally good or just as bad as each other. An intriguing if peculiar little tour also threw up the following thoughts:

1. That the captaincy of the Pakistan cricket team is as inconstant and unpredictable as the world of haute couture. Right now, it seems that thirtysomething veterans are back in, Misbah is quite the thing and suddenly that hand-clapping, floppy-fringed look that everyone was raving about a few months ago seems to belong to a quainter time, like bell-bottomed trousers and responsible investment banking.

2. That West Indies is the new south Asia. As it happens, I like low, slow, crumbly result pitches that take prodigious spin. I just don’t like them in the Caribbean. That’s the wrong place for them. What chance have the next generation of Ambroses, Walshes and Marshalls got when they charge to the crease, let fly and watch the ball splat into the earth with a sigh and trundle towards the batsman at knee height?

3. That two Test matches is not a series, it is a pair of isolated incidents.

Andrew Hughes is a writer currently based in England

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Posted by Adarsh on (May 26, 2011, 16:52 GMT)

"more crowded than an elevator at an obesity convention".. it is for gems like this that I regularly visit your column..

Posted by Aina on (May 26, 2011, 5:21 GMT)

This is the most apt: 3. That two Test matches is not a series, it is a pair of isolated incidents.

It should be 3 tests, 5 tests, even 7 tests, but my team is always playing these ridiculous 2 test series. The first test is wasted in getting used to the transition from limited overs to tests, and the only way to decide the series is to arrange a draw, which is hardly an exciting prospect.

Posted by shakeel on (May 25, 2011, 20:56 GMT)

PCB is the real culprit. Yusuf is dropped only on the basis of being religous otherwise Pakistan could not have had better batsmen than Yusuf. The only batsmen who came after zaheer abbas. The class of Yusuf cannot be measured after so much of cricket in the world. Yunus is good for nothing. Abdur Razaq showed his mettle hundereds of times but still board has decided to be the most crooked one. Shoaib is made to retire unnecessarily. With his talent pakistan was always a valuable team. Imran Nazeer needs to be there because of great hitting power. But very less the board understands.

thanks

Posted by Shahid A-freedi on (May 25, 2011, 19:21 GMT)

@Nadeem Khan - Are you seriously saying Pak A team is better than the current national team?? Lets analyse this

Imran Nazir - Doesn't have test match temperament only good for a few flashy shots. Then will get caught ad Mid off

Imran Farhat - Less said about him the better a complete failure at test level with an average in the 20s.

Yousuf - Still good enough but too selfish character. And awful and immobile fielder.

Fawad - Dont make me laugh another failure at test level. Too bits and pieces not a specialist at either batting or bowling.

Kamran Akmal - Incompetent as wicketkeeper and useless with the bat at test match level, just look at his average

Razzaq - Too old and anyway better in the shorter format

Kaneria - Only legspinner who cant spin the ball or take wickets compared to all other intl class spinners. Ajmal, Rehman and even Hafeez are better than him.

Posted by Aditya on (May 25, 2011, 18:37 GMT)

Wow, I thought Strauss writing a book on winning Ashes 6 months back was a funny story you made up. But then I googled it.

Posted by Jim on (May 25, 2011, 18:31 GMT)

Looks like Cricket Fatigue did not stop Andrew Strauss from finishing a book about Ashes within next 4 months, while the same was told as an excuse for the World Cup loss even as the world cup was getting started! It really tells the truth behind the phenomenon called fatigue.

Posted by Mayur Selvartnam on (May 25, 2011, 15:49 GMT)

Both teams are equally bad and deserve the ICC botton rankings . This is why series was tough..3-2 in ODI and 1-1 in test series...When two equals meet there is always good contest.......even if it means minnows like Ireland -Canada play the result would have been similar.

Posted by ash porter on (May 25, 2011, 15:12 GMT)

the pakistan-west indies series could only ever end in a draw.were talking about two teams who have shuffled players about and who both consistently blow hot and cold.

something a cricket writer once said of both teams: its a fool who bets on them, a bigger fool who bets against them.

Posted by Saood on (May 25, 2011, 11:45 GMT)

I think Misbah is the quiet lead by example type which is a rarity in this day and age but perfect for the youngsters on the Pak team to follow, i just hope they will let him continue and not oust for some stupid reason, as it is PCB has destroyed his career, he could have been one of the greats. If you see his numbers and the way he plays, the calmness, the confidence you wonder has be played so few matches?

Posted by Asif Rashid on (May 25, 2011, 11:03 GMT)

i just want to say that Afridi is good captain of Limited over cricket in pakistan and Misbah is for test cricket

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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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