Sport on TV: Harmison's wide of the mark but as usual Warne is bang on

Click to follow
The Independent Online

Who needs 'Auld Lang Syne' any more? We're all doing the "Sprinkler" now, and the group hug with everyone jigging up and down. Four years ago Steve Harmison was spraying it around, now it's just champagne and Mitchell Johnson that are going all over the place. And for a change, we don't have to try and forget all about the auldest acquaintance in sport.

Harmison was on hand in the studio to deliver the Verdict after the massacre at the MCG (Sky Sports 3, Tuesday), though given his chronic homesickness they may have had to set up camp in his bedroom. He still seemed tense, all tight-lipped and perplexed, as though someone might suddenly ask him to jump on a plane to Sydney and take the new ball.

At one stage, apropos of not very much, he said: "I never took anything seriously, to be honest." He had a very serious expression on his face when he said it. But evidently he didn't take bowling the first ball of an Ashes series very seriously.

So no smiles from Harmy, but alongside him Bob Willis was leering into the camera, looking slightly dotty. It was noticeable that those who had previously helped to retain the Ashes Down Under – Willis in 1970-71, David Gower and Ian Botham in 1986-87 – were far more effusive in their praise for Strauss's team than those who hadn't.

Perhaps Harmison, Nasser Hussain and Mike Atherton are just doomed to be haunted by the maulings of yesteryear, or maybe they were simply jealous. They probably still wake up in the middle of the night sweating about Shane Warne. Still, at least he's not in bed with them.

Meanwhile, Willis, Botham and Gower showered the England team with praise. Gower's epitaph after the last wicket fell was suitably memorable: "Australia are beaten, well-beaten, beaten into the earth." For him and the older guard, the ghosts of Christmases past were well and truly laid to rest. It's just a shame that Sky could not excavate the corpse of Douglas Jardine.

Warne, for so long England's tormentor, has been busy sprinkling his own salty stardust around but he found time to give copious credit to the achievements of the Poms. Needless to say, he claimed he was partly responsible for their success, having turned Chris Tremlett from a 6ft 8in wallflower into a colossus who bestrides the world while they were at Hampshire together.

Warne blamed his team's failings on the fact that their players no longer hone their techniques in county cricket and said that the state system in Australia is not adequate preparation for Test cricket. That's strange because we've spent the last 24 years blaming the county system for all our failings while the Aussie model was hailed as an ideal breeding ground: a more competitive edge bringing greater intensity. And Warney knows all about breeding.

With Ricky Ponting being decent in defeat too, were we to be denied a good dose of Aussie depression in our hour of triumph? Fortunately Sky dug up a clip from Channel Nine in which a not-so-bubbly blonde newscaster said: "It's been like a slow-motion train wreck all summer. It's been terrible to watch, but we just couldn't look away as Australian cricket suffered its most painful humiliation for many years." Thanks, Sheila. Happy new era.

Comments