On the Front Foot: It's the time of year for sledging but KP's 'witticisms' are snow joke

Greetings from the Boxing Day Test in Melbourne. OTFF can think of no better place to be. Australia v England, 1-1 in the Ashes series, the urn on the line, a sledging war being conducted, the ground full: name a better place to spend the holidays. So with the spirit of the season in mind, this column comes bearing gifts to the game from the MCG, known to locals in a wonderful display of one-upmanship simply as the G. In keeping with the times, the sledge of the year so far has to be Kevin Pietersen's attempt to intimidate Mitchell Johnson by asking for his phone number. Johnson subsequently called our Kev a smart arse, our Kev said he was merely trying to be friendly and "we're in cricket to make friends". There was, however, a twist when Kev was asked about his relationship with Mitch and, thinking he was off tape, said he had no relationship with Mitch. "I'm a bloke."



'Pitch switch' was a real turkey

The ramped-up non-story of the year, in a field fuller to bursting than tummies after Christmas lunch, also has a seasonal flavour. The tale of the switched pitches gets the nod. In the wake of England's heavy defeat in Perth, it was said by some fanciful sections of the UK press, the sort who think Santa Claus doesn't exist, that the pitch would be switched at the MCG on the orders of Cricket Australia to replicate the pace and carry of the WACA and play into Johnson's hands. This was wrong only for three reasons. First, the pitch wasn't switched because the groundsman, Cameron Hodgkins, always begins to prepare two strips on a "just in case" principle, which as it happened came into play. Secondly, he never spoke to Cricket Australia, mostly because groundsmen hate outside interference. Thirdly, there is more pace and carry in Santa's walk than at the G.



Twenty heroes

The G at Christmas is a long way from Barbados in May but it was there that the fondest cricketing memory of the year was made. England won the World Twenty20 and did so with a style, panache and hunger that should have made them team of the year in every award going. Defying sceptics, some of whom came from a quarter extremely close to this column, they picked a team for purpose. It batted, bowled and not least fielded to perfection. The England T20 team of 2010 performed the trick that is perhaps most helpful to any team: it was greater than the sum of its parts. By the end, they were the best team in the tournament by a mile and in the final they showed the cleanest pair of heels possible to Australia.



Tait and smile

The sight of the year, and it still makes the hairs on the back of the neck stand up, was provided by an Australian. It might have been only another one-day international but on a July Saturday late afternoon, Shaun Tait brought Lord's to its feet with a destructive spell of pure fast, full bowling that reminded all who saw it of the sheer thrill of outright pace – unless, of course, you happen to be on the receiving end. Merry Christmas, happy new year to lovers of the great game everywhere.

s.brenkley@independent.co.uk

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
  • Get to the point
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

Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

How a costume drama became a Sunday night staple
Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers as he pushes Tories on housing

Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers

Labour leader pushes Tories on housing
Aviation history is littered with grand failures - from the the Bristol Brabazon to Concorde - but what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?

Aviation history is littered with grand failures

But what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?
Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of Soviet-style 'iron curtains' right across Europe

Fortress Europe?

Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of 'iron curtains'
Never mind what you're wearing, it's what you're reclining on

Never mind what you're wearing

It's what you're reclining on that matters
General Election 2015: Chuka Umunna on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband

Chuka Umunna: A virus of racism runs through Ukip

The shadow business secretary on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband
Yemen crisis: This exotic war will soon become Europe's problem

Yemen's exotic war will soon affect Europe

Terrorism and boatloads of desperate migrants will be the outcome of the Saudi air campaign, says Patrick Cockburn
Marginal Streets project aims to document voters in the run-up to the General Election

Marginal Streets project documents voters

Independent photographers Joseph Fox and Orlando Gili are uploading two portraits of constituents to their website for each day of the campaign
Game of Thrones: Visit the real-life kingdom of Westeros to see where violent history ends and telly tourism begins

The real-life kingdom of Westeros

Is there something a little uncomfortable about Game of Thrones shooting in Northern Ireland?
How to survive a social-media mauling, by the tough women of Twitter

How to survive a Twitter mauling

Mary Beard, Caroline Criado-Perez, Louise Mensch, Bunny La Roche and Courtney Barrasford reveal how to trounce the trolls
Gallipoli centenary: At dawn, the young remember the young who perished in one of the First World War's bloodiest battles

At dawn, the young remember the young

A century ago, soldiers of the Empire – many no more than boys – spilt on to Gallipoli’s beaches. On this 100th Anzac Day, there are personal, poetic tributes to their sacrifice
Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves

Follow the money as never before

Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves, reports Rupert Cornwell
Samuel West interview: The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents

Samuel West interview

The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents
General Election 2015: Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, on what the leaders' appearances tell us about them
Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

The architect of the HeForShe movement and head of UN Women on the world's failure to combat domestic violence