The Light Roller: I don't like cricket, oh no, I hate it
I don't like cricket, oh no, I hate it
Tuesday 10 December 2013
Enough of these early-morning missives of despair
It honestly does not bear talking about does it? Two thumping defeats, more careless dismissals than Mike Gatting's had hot dinners, and about as many threatening balls as a randy rottweiler - which at least is better than none.
My brother, a fellow cricket addict, said he felt as if he never wanted to wake up. That wasn't quite the drastic statement it might appear but there is definitely a sense of trepidation at what one might find as the alarm heralds yet another shambolic report from down under.
Before this series began, I had envisaged that the dulcet tones of Aggers, Vic Marks, Michael Vaughan and yes, even the Katy Perry-obsessed Boycs, would be the soundtrack to a slightly sleep-deprived but generally happy, half-dreamed few months. Now, the only saving grace of the TMS coverage is that there are none of the gruesome images which must make Sky subscribers wonder why they are paying to watch such torture.
The difference between the teams is spirit, not skill
There are occasions when one team is so manifestly and intrinsically better than the other that you can shrug your shoulders and just hope for the occasional glimmer of light in the form of an exceptional spell of bowling or a gutsy eighty-odd.
But this is surely not the case in this series. The current Australia team will go down in history (and I'm tempting fate deliberately here) as the winners of the 2012/13 Ashes but they are not a great side – not yet anyway.
Most of the batsmen would have struggled to get anywhere near the starting XI a decade ago. And as for the bowlers, while they are working tremendously well as a unit and are riding the crest of Mitchell Johnson's surprise second coming as a tsunami, there are no obvious reasons why England - on fairly flat pitches after all - should keep being bundled out for such paltry totals.
Australia have made considerable strides to create the spirit that breeds success after a thoroughly wretched ten months. But the notion that their players are inherently better than England's is not borne out by anything other than the last two matches. And that is galling.
Add some Yorkshire grit
The recent appearances of Chris Woakes and Ben Stokes have been a reminder of how rare it is for genuine all-rounders to make it at test level. Stokes has got something about him and ought not to be a new recruit to the one-test wonder club. Yet the vagaries of England's squad selection and the likely nature of the WACA pitch mean that he may have to wait a while for a second cap, despite a reasonable personal showing in Adelaide.
The squad’s lanky lads have been a thorough let-down so far but Finn or Rankin will have to be brought in to add some firepower to a seriously undercooked attack. Bresnan may be required too. As for the spinners, even though it will be one hell of a tough call, Swann should step back.
Bairstow needs to be given a chance at six. His most compelling test performance came against the seriously speedy Steyn and Morkel at Lord’s in 2012 and, if his technique occasionally looks a mite ambivalent towards MCC handbooks, he can do no worse than Cook, Prior, Broad and co against the short ball barrage.
South Africa are head and shoulders above the rest
After fascinating back-to-back series against Pakistan, South Africa absolutely mangled India in the opening contests of their home one-day series this week. Having lost the soul of their nation last Thursday, the South Africans seem inspired by his memory.
India meanwhile, after their boisterous but largely tedious, run-soaked games against Australia, have also lost a great leader, following Sachin Tendulkar's retirement in November. He hadn't, of course, been part of the ODI scene for a while but the hullabaloo around his drawn-out departure from the game has left India looking somewhat spent.
All in all, South Africa are looking good value for their position as the world's best team. Their talents would surely be a match for Australia's newly-discovered winning streak. And fortunately, with a test series between the countries due in February, it won’t be long until we find out.
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