England August 6, 2011

Premature triumphalism? No chance

England wouldn't dream of doing that
28

Wednesday, 3rd August Last night I was visited by the Spirit of Cricket. He wasn’t in a very good mood. He complained vigorously that the Ian Bell thing had nothing to do with him, that as far as he was concerned, the fellow was dozier than a sloth on sleeping tablets and that if he’d been Dhoni, he’d have waited till Bell got back to the wicket and then rescinded his rescinded appeal, just to teach the blighter a lesson.

After he had calmed down, I told him I was about to post my 200th Long Handle entry and asked what he thought I should write. He thought for a moment, then he said, “Write what you like, it’s only Page 2. But whatever you do, don’t insult Ganguly.”

Thursday, 4th August A realistic view of our place in the great scheme of things is a hallmark of the English nation from Alfred the Great, a failed baker, to David Cameron, who has spent much of his first year as prime minister apologising and publicly changing his mind. We are a moderately sized, oddly shaped, frequently damp island nation whose primary role these days is to bear the brunt of the Atlantic weather for the sake of mainland Europe. We’ve lost an empire but we can still serve as an umbrella.

So just because we happen to find ourselves beating India 2-0, there is zero danger of any flabby complacency or premature triumphalism creeping in. No one would be foolish enough to start loosening champagne corks just because they were leading a big final at half-time. Isn’t that right, Freddie?

“England are the best team in the world already, not just in ranking.”

Actually, not even in ranking, Freddie. Let’s be clear. The ICC rankings table is not drawn up by tabloid editors. As of tea-time today, I regret to inform you that we are not No. 1. To start calling ourselves No. 1 before we are in fact No. 1 would be the highest-profile English case of premature fowl-tallying since King Harold turned to his men on Senlac Hill and said, “Look, I told you, we’ve got real strength in depth behind this shield wall and the Normans were badly underprepared. I’d be astonished if we didn’t win from this position.”

Friday, 5th August Two-nil down and the Indians are fighting back. Not on the pitch, but where it really matters: in the media. Today it was Paddy Upton’s turn to come to the PR party, spinning far more effectively than anything Harbhajan has managed in 70 overs. He isn’t saying that playing an awful lot of cricket is the reason why India are losing the series, but they are losing the series and they have played an awful lot of cricket.

“By giving the players so much cricket there is a potential of diluting the quality of the product. We are possibly seeing the evidence of it now.”

Possibly. But then cricket to the modern international bat-wielding superstar is a bit like dessert. Just because someone keeps putting it in front of you, doesn’t mean you can’t push it away now and again. For example, any of the World Cup heroes could have chosen seven weeks of comfy chairs and light promotional duties after their triumph, but instead they chose to muck about in the IPL. Jolly entertaining for the rest of us, but not the ideal, burnout wise. No, mental fatigue is not quite going to cut it as an explanation; we’ll need something more convincing. Ganguly thinks its lack of preparation. But then what does he know?

Andrew Hughes is a writer currently based in England

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Leo on August 18, 2011, 8:22 GMT

    Congratulations Andrew.

    Nice article. :-)

  • Shalini on August 10, 2011, 13:44 GMT

    Congratulations on the double hundred Andrew. Always enjoy reading your articles.

    And a message for Going South who commented above. The Fat Lady is singing loud and clear today! (and I don't mean me)

  • raja on August 8, 2011, 16:57 GMT

    Andrew, you may want to check out my post on you (in the personal greetings section) on CF. Congrats, mate!

  • Asim on August 8, 2011, 16:22 GMT

    Have always enjoyed whatever I have red of Andrew.

  • raja on August 8, 2011, 14:12 GMT

    Hi Andrew, This is Raja from CF. What a fantastic, rollicking piece this is. Had me ROFL from the first sentence. This is your 200th article here? Wow! Congrats! Keep going - thoroughly enjoy your writing and sense of humour. :-)

  • Going South on August 8, 2011, 13:56 GMT

    Hearty Congratulations for the double century on long handle. Keep up the good work. As always another wonderful thought provoking post. If not page2, where can we get to insult Ganguly and get to read funny fanatic fan replies? ;) No wonder spirit of cricket is stoned. As per #1 ranking, it aint over until the fat lady sings.

  • praxis on August 8, 2011, 12:23 GMT

    You've written 200 of these! God bless you my man.

  • Akheel on August 8, 2011, 8:49 GMT

    200? for Real?? think I commented on your very first long handle entry whilst sleep walking. see what it lead to, I should have been more responsible... forgive me O spirit of Cricket!

  • Andrew Hughes on August 7, 2011, 14:45 GMT

    Thanks all for your comments. It's been a scratchy kind of a double hundred, more KP at Lord's than KP at Adelaide, but having made it through the nervous 190s, I'm determined to play a few more strokes. Whatever that means.

    Clivejw, very wise, best to have a crate of champagne standing by, just in case.

    Raman, I haven't forgotten that excuse and I didn't buy that one either.

    Alok, I hadn't considered that. Perhaps Lakmal and friends would have looked more intimidating had they been wearing Viking helmets.

    Dan, I like the phrase armchair warrior. It has a ring to it. Although to be honest, I'm more of an armchair reservist. And as for contributions to the game, I think I've done my bit. A couple of years ago I purchased a copy of Alastair Cook's autobiography and I even read some of it.

  • Sanjay on August 7, 2011, 7:43 GMT

    Could it be the fitness or lack there of a reason for Indian's dismal performance? If Dravid could play IPL, WI tour and now Eng tour and do well, how could it be lot of cricket and not fit to play a five day cricket the real cause?

  • Leo on August 18, 2011, 8:22 GMT

    Congratulations Andrew.

    Nice article. :-)

  • Shalini on August 10, 2011, 13:44 GMT

    Congratulations on the double hundred Andrew. Always enjoy reading your articles.

    And a message for Going South who commented above. The Fat Lady is singing loud and clear today! (and I don't mean me)

  • raja on August 8, 2011, 16:57 GMT

    Andrew, you may want to check out my post on you (in the personal greetings section) on CF. Congrats, mate!

  • Asim on August 8, 2011, 16:22 GMT

    Have always enjoyed whatever I have red of Andrew.

  • raja on August 8, 2011, 14:12 GMT

    Hi Andrew, This is Raja from CF. What a fantastic, rollicking piece this is. Had me ROFL from the first sentence. This is your 200th article here? Wow! Congrats! Keep going - thoroughly enjoy your writing and sense of humour. :-)

  • Going South on August 8, 2011, 13:56 GMT

    Hearty Congratulations for the double century on long handle. Keep up the good work. As always another wonderful thought provoking post. If not page2, where can we get to insult Ganguly and get to read funny fanatic fan replies? ;) No wonder spirit of cricket is stoned. As per #1 ranking, it aint over until the fat lady sings.

  • praxis on August 8, 2011, 12:23 GMT

    You've written 200 of these! God bless you my man.

  • Akheel on August 8, 2011, 8:49 GMT

    200? for Real?? think I commented on your very first long handle entry whilst sleep walking. see what it lead to, I should have been more responsible... forgive me O spirit of Cricket!

  • Andrew Hughes on August 7, 2011, 14:45 GMT

    Thanks all for your comments. It's been a scratchy kind of a double hundred, more KP at Lord's than KP at Adelaide, but having made it through the nervous 190s, I'm determined to play a few more strokes. Whatever that means.

    Clivejw, very wise, best to have a crate of champagne standing by, just in case.

    Raman, I haven't forgotten that excuse and I didn't buy that one either.

    Alok, I hadn't considered that. Perhaps Lakmal and friends would have looked more intimidating had they been wearing Viking helmets.

    Dan, I like the phrase armchair warrior. It has a ring to it. Although to be honest, I'm more of an armchair reservist. And as for contributions to the game, I think I've done my bit. A couple of years ago I purchased a copy of Alastair Cook's autobiography and I even read some of it.

  • Sanjay on August 7, 2011, 7:43 GMT

    Could it be the fitness or lack there of a reason for Indian's dismal performance? If Dravid could play IPL, WI tour and now Eng tour and do well, how could it be lot of cricket and not fit to play a five day cricket the real cause?

  • zaky on August 7, 2011, 7:31 GMT

    200 posts? Really?

    Congrats..

  • Nadeeka on August 6, 2011, 22:47 GMT

    "Last night I was visited by the Spirit of Cricket." Nice one.

  • Clivejw on August 6, 2011, 17:20 GMT

    *Of course* we English don't do premature triumphalism! This crate of champagne I have ordered is, erm, just in case.

  • Dan Pugh on August 6, 2011, 17:05 GMT

    After sporadically reading the long handle I am stunned that anyone pays you to write this Andrew.

    How lovely it would be for us all to sit as armchair warriors, writing drivel for our Indian paymasters and sarcastically pointing out every little flaw we see.

    Obviously, having it all fathomed as you do we can expect that for years to come people will speak of the glory of Andrew Hughes and his commendable contributions to the game of cricket.

  • RAM V on August 6, 2011, 15:14 GMT

    Those who play for IPL(OR 20 over matches) should be completely eliminated from playing test matches.They do a great deal of damage to test cricket

  • Nikhil k gowda on August 6, 2011, 13:33 GMT

    I would never call this English team no.1 .. They r not India earned because they improved frm their image as poor visitors to doin well abroad .. England just by beating this half fit Indian team .. N very weakened Aussies in ashes doesn't make them best .. They have not beaten India in away series for the past decade n trust me these English quicks r of no use on subcontinent pitches n they can't hold in to no.1 if they achieve it in this series .. Everybody saw how pathetic were English bowlers in worldcup on Indian pitches .. N about swann who claims England wil sweep the series 4-0 mate not even in ur dreams .. So cald worlds best spinner was smacked around the park by thus Indian team minus sehwag n gambhir .. Just wining in one own backyard dosent make English no.1 ..n fools like Ian chapel who 1st claimed India won't retain no.1 status for long .. Mate still we r the no.1. Frm past 2 years .. Sehwag gambhir n Zak r back .. Let's see Wat has English got now !

  • Sampath on August 6, 2011, 13:18 GMT

    It is a depleted Indian side for all the reasons the Indian media has suggested although England played really well to beat the depleted side. The reasons are both correct at the same time i.e too much cricket and lack of preparation. If the author does not understand it then it is beyond him and he likely should seek a more honest way of making a living.

    The Indian medis is only too eager to pillory its players and too eager to deify them at the slightest inspiration. This time though they are right in their empathy for a disadvantaged Indian team.

  • Raman on August 6, 2011, 12:46 GMT

    Have you already forgotten that England gave same excuse (mental fatigue in Ashes) for the world cup fiasco?

  • Handsoff on August 6, 2011, 12:26 GMT

    Hey, no dissing Ganguly! Lovely piece by the way.

  • Alok on August 6, 2011, 11:56 GMT

    "To start calling ourselves No. 1 before we are in fact No. 1 would be the highest-profile English case of premature fowl-tallying since King Harold turned to his men on Senlac Hill and said, “Look, I told you, we’ve got real strength in depth behind this shield wall and the Normans were badly underprepared. I’d be astonished if we didn’t win from this position.”

    Which makes the Tillekaratne Dilshan and the Sri Lankans Harald Hardrada and the Vikings?

    Lovely historical analogy though. Though I don't suppose Dhoni and his men will scour the North once they win the one day series. ;) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Harrying_of_the_North

  • KARTHIK BHATT on August 6, 2011, 10:25 GMT

    Wow...200 blog posts!!!

    Keep them coming Andrew...congrats!!!

  • lehal on August 6, 2011, 10:09 GMT

    more excuses....

  • shahab on August 6, 2011, 10:05 GMT

    stupid column

  • A on August 6, 2011, 9:39 GMT

    Haha! NEVER insult Ganguly. NEVER.

  • Avi on August 6, 2011, 9:23 GMT

    Haha Hilarious mate!! Great article!!!

  • Rajeev Shetty on August 6, 2011, 8:32 GMT

    England Team playing a sensational & sensitive cricket than Indians

  • Aditya on August 6, 2011, 8:27 GMT

    Haha. Playing with Ganguly fans you are.

    By the way, maybe what Upton said has a point. And so the English don't need to take it as an excuse being dished for India's loss and feel slighted. Sure, they had a choice not to play in the IPL. But Upton still has a point.

  • raghu on August 6, 2011, 8:00 GMT

    LMAO.. @ the comment below the the picture... talk about premature triumphalism .. you say challenging England's No 1 ranking after 15 years... I'd be surprised if England last on No.1 for 15 months.. Its the form of the cricketers that gives England the edge... even the best of cricketers cant perform consistently for over 2 years. India is a strong team losing players for fitness issues and struggling to get back to form.. happens with any team.. in fact the 2005 ashes winning England side ended in a whitewash 2 years later in Aus for the very same reason. Don't know why people lose their mind over No.1 ranking (silly).. real beauty of cricket lies in some breathtaking bowling or sublime batting under pressure.

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  • raghu on August 6, 2011, 8:00 GMT

    LMAO.. @ the comment below the the picture... talk about premature triumphalism .. you say challenging England's No 1 ranking after 15 years... I'd be surprised if England last on No.1 for 15 months.. Its the form of the cricketers that gives England the edge... even the best of cricketers cant perform consistently for over 2 years. India is a strong team losing players for fitness issues and struggling to get back to form.. happens with any team.. in fact the 2005 ashes winning England side ended in a whitewash 2 years later in Aus for the very same reason. Don't know why people lose their mind over No.1 ranking (silly).. real beauty of cricket lies in some breathtaking bowling or sublime batting under pressure.

  • Aditya on August 6, 2011, 8:27 GMT

    Haha. Playing with Ganguly fans you are.

    By the way, maybe what Upton said has a point. And so the English don't need to take it as an excuse being dished for India's loss and feel slighted. Sure, they had a choice not to play in the IPL. But Upton still has a point.

  • Rajeev Shetty on August 6, 2011, 8:32 GMT

    England Team playing a sensational & sensitive cricket than Indians

  • Avi on August 6, 2011, 9:23 GMT

    Haha Hilarious mate!! Great article!!!

  • A on August 6, 2011, 9:39 GMT

    Haha! NEVER insult Ganguly. NEVER.

  • shahab on August 6, 2011, 10:05 GMT

    stupid column

  • lehal on August 6, 2011, 10:09 GMT

    more excuses....

  • KARTHIK BHATT on August 6, 2011, 10:25 GMT

    Wow...200 blog posts!!!

    Keep them coming Andrew...congrats!!!

  • Alok on August 6, 2011, 11:56 GMT

    "To start calling ourselves No. 1 before we are in fact No. 1 would be the highest-profile English case of premature fowl-tallying since King Harold turned to his men on Senlac Hill and said, “Look, I told you, we’ve got real strength in depth behind this shield wall and the Normans were badly underprepared. I’d be astonished if we didn’t win from this position.”

    Which makes the Tillekaratne Dilshan and the Sri Lankans Harald Hardrada and the Vikings?

    Lovely historical analogy though. Though I don't suppose Dhoni and his men will scour the North once they win the one day series. ;) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Harrying_of_the_North

  • Handsoff on August 6, 2011, 12:26 GMT

    Hey, no dissing Ganguly! Lovely piece by the way.