January 16, 2013

England in India 2012-13

In which England hark back to the bad old days

Andrew Hughes
MS Dhoni and Jade Dernbach are involved in an argument, India v England, 2nd ODI, Kochi, January 15, 2013
"This is an intervention. We can't have you walk around with that silvery stubble. What sort of message does it send the youngsters?"  © BCCI


It's the epic bat-and-ball clash that is already being described as "one of several limited-overs series taking place in January". In the blue corner, the undisputed and inexplicably top-ranked 50-over side in the world. In the other blue corner, complaining about the lack of wi-fi, it's the challengers, MS "Transition" Dhoni and the Excuse-Makers from Mars.

It reminds me of the lesser-known Biblical clash on the undercard at the David versus Goliath bout: the one between David's heavily tattooed cousin Dwayne, who had an unfortunate tendency to sling stones into his own face, but who talked a good game, and Goliath's younger brother Geoffrey, who had anxiety issues and didn't like people looking at him.

Two games in, and, as predicted, the thing makes no sense whatsoever. The cricket has been quite entertaining, but there's more fun to be had by watching desperate cricket hacks attempting to construct a coherent narrative out of the randomness. Three days ago England had boldly gone and conquered the final frontier. Today the warp drive went into reverse.

I'm not complaining. As a wicket junkie, there's nothing I like more than a good collapse, and since New Zealand don't play every week, it was a pleasant surprise to see England staging a tribute to the good old days by not even getting close to organising an exploratory committee to look into the feasibility of mounting an effort to chase India's total.

Ian Bell started it by successfully nicking a wide one that Joel Garner wearing arm extenders would have struggled to reach. Although, to be honest, I think a taller man, with nothing to prove height-wise, probably wouldn't have bothered going for it. Napoleon, on the other hand, would definitely have played that shot, as would have Alexander the Great and any of the Seven Dwarfs, with the possible exception of Sleepy, who was a great leaver of the ball.

Bell's colleagues followed him to the pavilion with unseemly haste. Joe Root's dismissal illustrated the folly of allowing youngsters to use adult equipment, as he got his oversized bat tangled in his baggy trousers. Steven Finn got into a terrible flap with one of Ashwin's carrom balls. He kind of looked out, but no one was entirely clear on the details, so the bowler played a quick game of 20 questions with Steve Davies.

"Was it a stumping?"

"Ooh close, but not the right answer. Have another go."

"Erm, timed out?"

"Nope. I'll give you clue. It starts with a C."

"Oh, I think I know this. Was it caught and bowled?"


"Hit wicket?"

"Hit wicket doesn't start with a C."

"It's got a C in it."

"No, you're getting colder, to be honest."

"Hit the ball twice? Drunk and disorderly? High treason?"

"No, no, no. It rhymes with 'out for nought'."

"Erm, could you whisper it?"

"No, but I can mime it for you if that would help."

"Oh, now I get it!"

"So what do we say?"

"Er… howzat?"

"And on what grounds?"

"Was he out caught, umpire Davies?"

"He was indeed, well done. Off you go Finn, you're boring me now."

Finally, it was interesting to see how the players adapted to the new playing regulations that require each team to attempt to instigate a pointless squabble during the Powerplay. It was Jade Dernbach who stepped up to the petulance plate for England by complaining that the Indian captain was standing in the wrong place. Showing why he's still the best man for the job, Dhoni defused the situation by refraining from the obvious retort: that at least his arms didn't look like a couple of delinquent chimpanzees had been at them with a box of blue crayons. When you can learn to bite your tongue like that, Gautam, then you can be captain.

Andrew Hughes is a writer currently based in England

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Posted by Misam Jaffer on (January 23, 2013, 1:10 GMT)

"...there’s nothing I like more than a good collapse, and since New Zealand don’t play every week...", lool...I am sure after NZ's recent performances, somewhere out there Kane Williamson is smiling to himself and thinking, "Yeah Andrew, Tak Nah" :D

jk, brilliant as always Andrew!

Posted by Basavaraj Basagi on (January 17, 2013, 5:14 GMT)

Superb article...loved the last line.....

Posted by Samy on (January 16, 2013, 23:55 GMT)

Loved this article.. Thanks mate... Cheers

Posted by Shreyas on (January 16, 2013, 16:54 GMT)

Wow!! What an article. Wish I got ideas like u. Ashwin's 20 questions was truly epic!! OMG. “Hit the ball twice? Drunk and disorderly? High treason?” What a line!! Joe Root's bat got stuck? Should be a lesson for him not to use those oversized bats of his. Hope India show the same fight in the rest of the series and in in the coming years. BLEED BLUE!!! (Which can work both ways)

Posted by Indian in us on (January 16, 2013, 16:03 GMT)

Andy, brilliant article. Where have you been hiding? Write more, you remind me of Gerald Durrell.

Posted by Pavan on (January 16, 2013, 15:32 GMT)

love your humour. good one - as always!

Posted by dinesh on (January 16, 2013, 15:19 GMT)

Boring article! not funny like ur other articles, Andrew.

Posted by peter on (January 16, 2013, 14:55 GMT)

absolutely brilliant article- loved it! and how very appropriate - the last line. India will probably have to wait aeons to get a captain like MS again- true he has had his bad judgement days but then which captain hasn't had- in hindsight everybody can do better, and he has to rely on a team which often stutters

Posted by SkylaDark on (January 16, 2013, 14:51 GMT)

Excellent article. Let's hope England can live up to the pressure next game.

Posted by Raju Iyer on (January 16, 2013, 13:24 GMT)

Hilarious! Loved the reference to an exploratory committee...

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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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