John Benaud: Life after Shane and Glenn? Yes, but not as we know it

Those in the Test waiting room might be overkeen

How fitting that on the same day boats were sinking and snapping masts in the famous Sydney to Hobart yacht race, England's skipper Andrew Flintoff should allow his listing ship to drift aimlessly on to cricket's equivalent of the rocks.

When Matthew Hayden and Andrew Symonds incredibly took Australia from rags to riches in two sessions on the second day of the Fourth Test, Flintoff's scattered fields at the MCG more resembled arrangements fashioned by schoolkids in a local park. All the pre-Test bravado about playing for pride subsided in a tsunami of numbskull negativity. How disappointing.

Luckily the Shane and Glenn Roadshow rolls on and its irresistible last tango still guarantees quality in an Ashes contest which is now no more than a line in the itinerary. The duo continue to stir up theories about the sure-to-change face of the game once Shane Warne and Glenn McGrath are history. The evidence was on the scoreboard.

C Read not out 26. Gutsy, but at the start of his innings against Warne he might have been swinging a white cane, not a bat. His discomfort confirmed the weight of the millstone that will be lifted from batsmen's shoulders.

Other outcomes are camouflaged in gripping moments, under pressure: K Pietersen c Symonds b Warne 21. To appreciate this scoreline go back to the last day in Perth, where Pietersen used his dancing feet to advance to Warne's best, the flighted ball drifting to leg, and then with a forward thrust of his wrists, powered through the shot when seemingly beaten by late drop and sent the ball scooting to the midwicket rope.

Warne's counter-attack was a more off-stump line, three balls in a row, each one subtly wider and differently flighted. Twice Warne had Pietersen playing dangerously away from his pad, bat face riskily open. The third was the sucker ball, the one Warne hoped Pietersen would run at in frustration and try to hit over cover. Pietersen, playing smart, let it go.

Wily Warne did not let the memory go. At the MCG he persisted, shackling Pietersen, who clearly wanted to dominate the man with 700 wickets. The offstump line frustrated Pietersen so much he forgot the lesson of Perth, survived a stumping when stranded yards down the pitch to a wide one, then later succumbed, miscuing a "dropper" to long-off.

Sad to say, Warne-Pietersen cameos will be history, unless you toddle down to Hampshire, where they could promote a "special event net".

A Strauss b Warne 50. England's theory that the premeditated sweep is a useful tactic should be history, too. It muddles a batsman's mind, and it did for Andrew Strauss, who after missing a ball pitched very wide of off stump, tried an angled flick to a ball more fit for sweeping, and offered Warne his 700th reference. The great man's CV includes a comment that he is the Bradman of bowlers. So, when Muttiah Muralitharan cracks Warne's record, will the Sri Lankan be regarded as the greatest, or just the Babe Ruth of bowlers?

A Flintoff c Warne b Clark 13. When Flintoff, seeking batting salvation in the Perth Test, went on the front foot and belted Brett Lee, his opposite number Ricky Ponting, even with a few hundred runs in the bank, instantly rewound to the movie set of Ghostbusters - when you want to lay to rest the ghosts of Kevin Pietersen's Oval slogathon in 2005, "Who you gonna call?"

Who indeed? McGrath was immediately on and almost sliced Pietersen in half with an off-cutter and snuffed the momentum England were building. Ponting will need a new game-breaking theory. He can throw the ball to Stuart Clark, but who else? Oppositions will no longer be so easily strangled.

A Symonds - 21 balls to get off the mark. A fringe player fidgets because his spot in the team is wonky. New players will do that, too. Theory: Australia, with new opening batsmen, will not score as quickly, so more draws are in prospect.

Australia four, England nil. It should cost Flintoff the captaincy. If coach Duncan Fletcher is under pressure, what about the new Australian coach who will take over from John Buchanan after the World Cup?

Australia's Cricket Academy will hasten restoration, but former coach Bob Simpson worries: "History has shown that once a great team lose their key players and the rest get older there are few, if any, ready replacements in the domestic competition." Those in the Test waiting room might be over-keen to impress, scrambling form when consistency is needed.

Thought provoking if you're an Aussie, but... Australia's Parliament recently voted for embryonic stem cell research and therapeutic cloning which, the scientific lobby assure us, means there will be cure-alls for anything. Imagine Lord's in 2009, Warne and McGrath running in, bodies rebuilt, and all by Prime Ministerial decree!

News
A model of a Neanderthal man on display at the National Museum of Prehistory in Dordogne, France
science
News
Richard Dawkins dedicated his book 'The Greatest Show on Earth' to Josh Timonen
newsThat's Richard Dawkins on babies with Down Syndrome
Arts and Entertainment
Eye of the beholder? 'Concrete lasagne' Preston bus station
architectureWhich monstrosities should be nominated for the Dead Prize?
Extras
indybest
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Travel
Dinosaurs Unleashed at the Eden Project
travel
Arts and Entertainment
music
Sport
football
Life and Style
This month marks the 20th anniversary of the first online sale
techDespite a host of other online auction sites and fierce competition from Amazon, eBay is still the most popular e-commerce site in the UK
News
i100
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Middle East crisis: We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

Now Obama has seen the next US reporter to be threatened with beheading, will he blink, asks Robert Fisk
Neanderthals lived alongside humans for centuries, latest study shows

Final resting place of our Neanderthal neighbours revealed

Bones dated to 40,000 years ago show species may have died out in Belgium species co-existed
Scottish independence: The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

Scotland’s immigrants are as passionate about the future of their adopted nation as anyone else
Britain's ugliest buildings: Which monstrosities should be nominated for the Dead Prize?

Blight club: Britain's ugliest buildings

Following the architect Cameron Sinclair's introduction of the Dead Prize, an award for ugly buildings, John Rentoul reflects on some of the biggest blots on the UK landscape
eBay's enduring appeal: Online auction site is still the UK's most popular e-commerce retailer

eBay's enduring appeal

The online auction site is still the UK's most popular e-commerce site
Culture Minister Ed Vaizey: ‘lack of ethnic minority and black faces on TV is weird’

'Lack of ethnic minority and black faces on TV is weird'

Culture Minister Ed Vaizey calls for immediate action to address the problem
Artist Olafur Eliasson's latest large-scale works are inspired by the paintings of JMW Turner

Magic circles: Artist Olafur Eliasson

Eliasson's works will go alongside a new exhibition of JMW Turner at Tate Britain. He tells Jay Merrick why the paintings of his hero are ripe for reinvention
Josephine Dickinson: 'A cochlear implant helped me to discover a new world of sound'

Josephine Dickinson: 'How I discovered a new world of sound'

After going deaf as a child, musician and poet Josephine Dickinson made do with a hearing aid for five decades. Then she had a cochlear implant - and everything changed
Greggs Google fail: Was the bakery's response to its logo mishap a stroke of marketing genius?

Greggs gives lesson in crisis management

After a mishap with their logo, high street staple Greggs went viral this week. But, as Simon Usborne discovers, their social media response was anything but half baked
Matthew McConaughey has been singing the praises of bumbags (shame he doesn't know how to wear one)

Matthew McConaughey sings the praises of bumbags

Shame he doesn't know how to wear one. Harriet Walker explains the dos and don'ts of fanny packs
7 best quadcopters and drones

Flying fun: 7 best quadcopters and drones

From state of the art devices with stabilised cameras to mini gadgets that can soar around the home, we take some flying objects for a spin
Joey Barton: ‘I’ve been guilty of getting a bit irate’

Joey Barton: ‘I’ve been guilty of getting a bit irate’

The midfielder returned to the Premier League after two years last weekend. The controversial character had much to discuss after his first game back
Andy Murray: I quit while I’m ahead too often

Andy Murray: I quit while I’m ahead too often

British No 1 knows his consistency as well as his fitness needs working on as he prepares for the US Open after a ‘very, very up and down’ year
Ferguson: In the heartlands of America, a descent into madness

A descent into madness in America's heartlands

David Usborne arrived in Ferguson, Missouri to be greeted by a scene more redolent of Gaza and Afghanistan
BBC’s filming of raid at Sir Cliff’s home ‘may be result of corruption’

BBC faces corruption allegation over its Sir Cliff police raid coverage

Reporter’s relationship with police under scrutiny as DG is summoned by MPs to explain extensive live broadcast of swoop on singer’s home