August 31, 2011

Australians. They’re different

Andrew Hughes
Trent Copeland hones his bowling during a training session, Galle, August 30, 2011
His spiky hair adds a certain piquant flavour when Trent Copeland is eaten in a sandwich  © AFP


Monday, 29th August When two bitter antagonists decide to climb down off their high horses, throw away those handbags and give each other a big hug, it is a beautiful thing. Two weeks ago I shed a little tear of happiness when I read that the WICB and the WIPA (or it may have been the other way round) were going to get together and sort it all out over lattes and a plate of custard creams. Mr Ramnarine said that people were fed up of the arguing, they just want West Indies cricket back on top. Well, amen to that.

So how have they been getting along? I thought I’d check in today for the latest:

“WIPA to sue WICB for $20m!”

Oh dear. The ordinary cricket fan, who just yearns for the good old days when the West Indies were awe-inspiring cricket gods dispensing nose-breaking, jaw-crushing, leather-spanking justice finds this as bewildering and depressing as the news that there might be a Pirates of the Caribbean 5. The house of West Indies cricket is crumbling and these Lilliputians are sitting in the ruins, surrounded by rubble, arguing about what shade of blue will go best in the bathroom.

I’m not really interested in why the WIPA is suing the WICB, and though I’m not trained in the clairvoyant arts, I strongly suspect that I’ll be equally uninterested next week when the WICB announces its countersuit. As a parent I’ve been through this sort of thing before. It’s not important who started it, all that matters is that you both say sorry and agree to play nicely, and above all that we don’t hear another peep out of either of you, because frankly you kids are driving us crazy.

Tuesday 30th August Having grown up watching Neighbours (which is, in my opinion, a far superior drama to the rather vulgar Home and Away) I have absorbed a lot of Australian without having to take a course. Bludgers, lamingtons, rellies, grog and stoked are all part of my vocabulary, stored in a tiny anteroom of my brain, gathering dust but ready to be used in the unlikely event that I can afford a week or two in Adelaide, or that I bump into Shane Warne at the moisturiser counter in Boots.

But ever so often I come across a phrase that reminds me that Australia is, in fact, an entirely foreign country and not just a hotter, dryer, wider version of Cornwall. Today, for example, I read this from Michael Clarke, referring to Trent Copeland:

“I’m a big wrap for him.”

I have heard it before, but if I’m honest, I have no idea what it means. An attempt to translate it logically leads to a disturbing conclusion - that Australia’s captain is so enamoured of his new seam-up, wobble-it-about guy that he wants to envelop him physically, as though he were a soft white flatbread and Trent a tasty pile of marinated chicken, onions and peppers. Is that the kind of captain-player bonding that the Argus review recommended? Or have I mistranslated?

Still, while I’ve no idea if he’s any good with a cricket ball, I do know that Australia’s new fast-bowling burrito has a great name. This is par for the course. Antipodeans* consistently outperform the British in this department. Your average Australian cricketer sounds like a tough, borderline-dangerous cove who knows how to operate a leaf blower and could arm-wrestle a dingo into submission if he had to. You’d feel safe if Trent Copeland had your back.

* New Zealanders, for example, usually have cowboy names. It is impossible not to be cool with a name like Jesse Ryder, Brendon McCullum or Dangerous Dan Vettori. Though I suspect Martin Guptil is really a quantity surveyor from Crawley.

Andrew Hughes is a writer currently based in England

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Posted by waterbuffalo on (September 4, 2011, 1:59 GMT)

Big Rep becomes big wrap, oh well, another phrase that I despised was "I have a lot of time for him" Was that english or aussie? it is so arrogant on behalf of the speaker. "I have no time for her, have a lot of time for him" who the heck do you think you are? As for India 'trashing England in the ODI's" , nobody cares. You lost 4-0, you should disappear for your own good. Don't ever speak until you win a Test Match. Cheers to Australia for doing it with a new team.

Posted by Simon on (September 1, 2011, 11:40 GMT)

Another great set of blogs.

Why not do something on Matt Hayden. i heard he was writing a book about managing conflicts of interest.... after resigning from the ca board after buying into and agreeing to play for one of the bbl teams whilst also being on the cricket queensland board!!

Posted by neil on (September 1, 2011, 3:49 GMT)

I just read this in the office and burst out laughing when I read the bit about cowboy names!

Definitely agree though, the English players' names are thoroughly boring, especially the first names (Andrew, Jonathan, Ian, Matt, James, Chris), when compared to pretty much all the other countries.

One of my favourites was Bryce McGain, but unfortunately his test career didn't quite take off...

Posted by Aaron on (August 31, 2011, 20:25 GMT)

Go the New Zealand cowboy names!

Posted by Lda on (August 31, 2011, 20:10 GMT)

Decoding 'I'm a big wrap' will lead you to madness if you go via the strict 'Queen's English (QI)' route. Most of us here in Oz wouldn't have a clue how this one passed into common usage.

My best guess is that it started about 20 yrs ago with the common Oz phrase 'I'm rapt'.

Then to I'm rapt in/with it" (yes, bung in copious (sic)s if you're rooted in QI).

Then to murdering QI with "I'm wrapped/rapt/rapped with/it".

BTW, don't expect the average Oz to see a problem with the grammar & word shifts above.

Finally, from "I'm Wrapped with/in it" morphs to "I'm a big wrap/rap for it/him" etc.

Or something along those lines.

Posted by rajnish on (August 31, 2011, 14:40 GMT)

good one hughes........keep it up the good work as nothing is goin good for us (indian)....we can read ur aricles meanwhile before india start thrashing england in ODIs ....

Posted by Cameron Higgins on (August 31, 2011, 13:40 GMT)

Try 'RAP'... as in "There are many wonderful things that I could tell you about this chap, trust me!"

Posted by Tim on (August 31, 2011, 13:15 GMT)

I'm sure Trent Copeland is stoked he got picked too, beats bludging around Sydney waiting for the Sheffield Shield to start, getting on the grog and trying to avoid eating the lamingtons that the rellies brought round.

Posted by Lima on (August 31, 2011, 6:52 GMT)

I'm a big wrap for this article. Well done.

Oh, that's not how I like my sandwiches toasted either.

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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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