May 25, 2011

Straussy’s book, and a pretend Test series

The captain tells his stirring Ashes tale

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