October 2, 2012

The Not Entirely Unexpected Losers Café

Andrew Hughes
Shane Watson took two wickets, Australia v South Africa, Super Eights, World Twenty20, Colombo, September 30, 2012
Shane Watson: can even do a Leonardo di Caprio Titanic impression on dry land  © AFP


Most tournaments develop slowly; they have a meandering narrative that gives us chance to stop and smell the roses along the way. The World Twenty20 isn't like that. I'm only just getting used to the layout of my Ronnie Hira 3D World Twenty 20 Wall Chart, but the festival of thwackery has already passed halfway and is hurtling towards its conclusion faster than Mike Gatting descending Everest in a bob sleigh.

Today two more contenders were unceremoniously flung from the careering cart of cricket destiny as it rattles along the fixture rollercoaster. If you don't count Super Overs, New Zealand have only lost one of their last three games. But T20 is gladiatorial combat, and just like at the Coliseum, there's no place for polite handshakes and the quiet satisfaction of a hard-fought draw.

And joining New Zealand for commiserations and low-fat lattes in the Not Entirely Unexpected Losers Café at Colombo International Airport's departure lounge are the English, still suffering from Malinga Syndrome; a nervous condition in which you think you can see a small white object hurtling towards you at great speed from an unusual angle and feel an overwhelming desire to run away.

By the time you sneak a look at this blog while you should be working, two more teams will be out. One of them won't be Australia but I can't be any more specific than that because net run rate is involved and net run rate involves more mathematics than a chap should be forced to juggle with just to follow a sports contest. Alphabetical order has its flaws, I'll grant you, but it's a lot easier to work out.

That Australia are definitely not out yet is almost entirely due to the hero of the tournament so far: Shane Watson. He's like a blond Hercules working his way through a list of tiresome chores. Slay the Nemean Lion? Check. Capture the Cretan Bull? Check. Single-handedly carry a team to the semi-finals of a major cricket tournament? Check. Put the rubbish out? Check. Have you cleaned the stables yet Shane? And when you going to get that ironing done? I need my work shirt.

Obviously Australia aren't just a one-man team. They're a one-man-and-ten-lesser-men-team. A one-man-and-ten-lesser-men-team that has also, finally, turned up to a tournament with a decent wardrobe. Usually it's just variations on the theme of yellow, and the problem with yellow is that it always looks garish or sweaty, or sometimes both garish and sweaty at the same time. One year they tried to pretend that yellow and grey was a good idea. It wasn't.

But these new colours are like a fresh identity. Who are those mystery men in black with green and yellow stripes? A mainly black uniform has many advantages. It comes across as purposeful and a little dangerous. It makes them look a lot thinner. And it takes away the only thing that New Zealand had left. Once, they were everyone's favourite surprise semi-finalists. Now they're not even the best international cricket team who wear black.

Andrew Hughes is a writer currently based in England

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Keywords: World Twenty20

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Posted by an.orange on (October 4, 2012, 6:01 GMT)

So, I'm actually surprised that there have been no comments on this post...or perhaps there were and I can't see them.

I would just like to say that I absolutely loved this post not only because of the amazing way you phrased Shane Watson's performance but also because I feel the same way about his performance. He has done wonders for the team and proved himself to be a fantastic player. I can only hope that he makes matches in the future as exciting as he has made this series, for me.

I thoroughly enjoyed your post! I look forward to reading more.

Posted by Sid on (October 3, 2012, 23:25 GMT)

Put a big wide smile on my face... !!! Well written Andrew...

Posted by Bilal on (October 3, 2012, 15:00 GMT)

ahhh..come on.. stop bashing kiwis.. They are a good side. Just didnt click this time around. Kiwis are always good cricket team and play very competitive cricket.

Posted by Zubin Narielwala on (October 3, 2012, 13:35 GMT)

Hilarious article!

Posted by Feiroz Humayara on (October 3, 2012, 9:03 GMT)

"Obviously Australia aren’t just a one-man team. They’re a one-man-and-ten-lesser-men-team. A one-man-and-ten-lesser-men-team that has also, finally, turned up to a tournament with a decent wardrobe." Hilarios:D

Posted by Omar on (October 3, 2012, 6:35 GMT)

Not even the best team wearing black??!!! Ha, ha. And by this time Andrew, Pakistan will have qualified along with Australia. I always enjoy your Afridi articles and I'm really hoping that the men in green can win the whole thing!

Posted by Bimal on (October 3, 2012, 4:49 GMT)

I actually liked that yellow uniform of Australia. Black is a terrible colour to wear in the hot Sri Lankan Sun. PS: Overjoyed at India not making the semis.

Posted by Pakman on (October 3, 2012, 4:30 GMT)

Simply great writing Andrew. As a wannabe writer, I can only wish to write something so witty some day.

'Festival of thwackery' - genius!

Why did you have to rib on poor Gatts - really hilarious though!

Very clever point about the Aussies robbing the black. Poor NZ could be forced to change their long standing moniker to 'The Caps'.

Posted by paksyndrome on (October 2, 2012, 13:38 GMT)

That was too good...Alphabetical order has its flaws, I’ll grant you, but it’s a lot easier to work out... However with pak's win a few minutes back over Australia, India would love to grab that option.

Posted by srlankan on (October 2, 2012, 11:53 GMT)

Andrew - droll as usual. I quite enjoy your column for its humour. And I agree with your analysis. David 'Bumble' Lloyd quite eloquently commentated that "England has been well and truly Malingered"

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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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