December 11, 2013

The post-Johnson jelly disorder

Andrew Hughes
"In a mood for breaking the world triple-jump record"  © Getty Images
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Previewing the third Test yesterday, George Bailey promised that the pitch at the WACA will have something for everyone. Fast bowlers with impressive moustaches will enjoy the shiny strip of bouncy concrete whereupon the cricket will be played. Spin bowlers can watch an entire Test match from the relaxed comfort of their dressing room, and batsmen will be able to take advantage of Western Australia's excellent medical facilities.

I understand that all leave has been cancelled at Perth General as staff brace themselves for an epidemic of cricket-ball related throat-injuries, wounded pride, badly bruised egos, PJJD (post-Johnson jelly disorder) and humble-pie overdoses.

Since I'm not taking part in it, however, I am thoroughly looking forward to the Perth Test. Hopefully, it will be Test cricket with the volume turned up to 11 and the safety catch removed, an outdoor festival of chin music with a thumping beat produced by a leather ball alternately clanking into a boundary board and clonking against a helmet.

There's no doubt about the headline act. If during the last three years, you've mentioned the word "Mitchell" and the word "Johnson" in the presence of an English cricket fan, you will probably have witnessed an unpleasant effect. First there is the slow dawning of a schoolboy grin, followed by a Beavis and Butthead style chuckle and, if you are particularly unlucky, the first few lines of the Noel Coward-esque Mitchell Johnson song.

I was at Edgbaston in the autumn, where Johnson was booed when he came on to bowl. Why? I have no idea. Is it now acceptable to boo someone because you don't think they are playing as well as they could? In which case, I look forward to the mass booing that must surely accompany the England players' entrance to the arrivals hall at Heathrow next year.

His resurgence does at least remind us that any professional cricketer who gets picked for a Test match is perched somewhere near the top of the talent tree, and that what we boo and cheer are merely trivial and temporary differences in form and confidence on the part of a collection of human beings who are all really rather good at what they do.

For this reason I feel some sympathy for English cricket journalists. They were dispatched to Australia on board HMS Flower to chronicle another glorious Ashes campaign, yet have been left staring at the appalling carnage of two distinctly un-glorious and rather massive setbacks. How to explain it?

Australia played better? That may be the truth, but editors are likely to demand something a little more apocalyptic, particularly if a couple of years back you were one of those journalists scribbling about Andy Flower's England being one of the greatest Test teams in the history of the universe. So how could they have fallen so far?

Well, obviously it's down to: burnout, fatigue, county cricket, a lack of fun, Graham Gooch's paunch, extra-curricular urination, too much planning, too little planning, the weather, batting technique, the weakness of the pound, the alignment of the planets, the decimation of the rain forests, the World Cup draw (delete as applicable).

Of course, those journalists who haven't spent the last four years composing odes to Flower will have an easier time of it. With home advantage, the fifth-ranked team in the world is currently beating the third-ranked team in the world. Not so dramatic, really.

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Andrew Hughes is a writer currently based in England. He tweets here

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Posted by Fan_of_test_cricket on (December 12, 2013, 21:14 GMT)

The opening paragraph had me in splits!

Posted by Insult_2_Injury on (December 12, 2013, 2:01 GMT)

You're right Andrew, editors are looking for a bit more than - 6 months ago 3 beat 5 by 3-0, but now 5 are 2-0 up over 3 in best of 5 because 3's top 7 aren't producing enough against 5's 3 quicks.

Posted by gop_cricket on (December 11, 2013, 22:11 GMT)

Hilarious, agree, but some of the facts put into perspective in this article. England did behave very badly over their last summer and spurred Aussies to give them this hiding. England's behavior was deplorable in the last test of previous ashes like urinating on the pitch. They should have been fined for that act itself but are now being fined by Aussies in a different way. As per the article now England can give no excuse or reason for their shameful defeats.

Posted by ThatsJustCricket on (December 11, 2013, 15:05 GMT)

Glorious, Andrew. How do you manage to be so spot on and yet so funny and that too every time? Wonderful read.

Posted by J751 on (December 11, 2013, 13:19 GMT)

Andrew,I can always rely on you for a good laugh.

Posted by SagirParkar on (December 11, 2013, 12:12 GMT)

Andrew - you have nailed the excuses perfectly !!!

kudos :)

Posted by   on (December 11, 2013, 10:57 GMT)

its not over til the fat lady sings lots of work still to be done go aussies

Posted by Rawal on (December 11, 2013, 9:34 GMT)

Hilarious!

"Well, obviously it's down to: burnout, fatigue, county cricket, a lack of fun, Graham Gooch's paunch, extra-curricular urination, too much planning, too little planning, the weather, batting technique, the weakness of the pound, the alignment of the planets, the decimation of the rain forests, the World Cup draw (delete as applicable)."

The best part!

Posted by   on (December 11, 2013, 8:27 GMT)

"With home advantage, the fifth-ranked team in the world is currently beating the third-ranked team in the world. Not so dramatic, really." spot on hughesy!

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

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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