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Hey, quit this Pommie Bashing! 25 November 2006

Posted by TwentyTwoYards in Howzzat!! (aka the 'Honourable Game').
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Hmmm seems ’tis the season for England bashing! In reality, some of the bashing is excessively harsh on England – the series is only two days old so a long way to go. In any case, Australia are the better team, playing in conditions well suited to them, so of course they should, and will, win. England are accused of being obsessed by the Ashes, but are they really? Hardly, they had a very good summer against Pakistan when they comfortably won the Tests and drew the ODIs – yes, the Ashes is the most important cricket trophy for them, but they still managed to turn out a very credible Test performance against the Pakistanis!

In any case, England’s Ashes obsession is nothing close to the Australians – in England, Ashes ranks way below other “key sporting events” in the public consciousness, whether it be the Soccer World Cup, the European Championships, the FA Cup, the UEFA Champions League, Royal Ascot, Rugby Union World Cup, Wimbledon, even the Boat Race. Ashes is not even available on normal, terrestrial TV – all of the others I have listed are, and many have blanket wall-to-wall coverage on all times whereas for cricket, even for most important cricket like the Ashes, only some in England can see delayed and very brief highlights whilst the rest can’t even see that without stumping up a fat wad of cash for good ole Uncle Rupert.

Compare this with the Aussies’ Ashes obsession – where that is undoubtedly the most important sporting event in their most important sport – this in a country which is perhaps, per capita, the most successful in the most number of sports, yet is still fixated on a two inch urn. The Ashes has a very special place in their culture, and everyone, from the Prime Minister in Canberra down to the road-sweeper outside the Wolloongabba will be focused on one thing, and one thing only, for the next few weeks, and that will be Pommie bashing – that’s how it was in Douglas Jardine’s days and that is how it still is.  It would be a national calamity there if home Ashes were ever taken off Channel 9 and free-to-air terrestrial TV there and a tragedy of unprecedented proportions if Ricky actually managed to lose the Ashes twice in a row, given the personnel at his disposal. In national surveys, overwhelming majorities of Australians always confirm the Ashes as being the single-most important sporting event for them, in any sport, anywhere. Hence, if anyone is obsessed with the Ashes, its the Aussies – and frankly, why ever not – its a free world!

As for the oft-repeated mantra that England “don’t have bottle” or “are simply no good”, then, I am not so sure. After all, this same England side did beat us Pakistanis fair and square in the summer in the Tests, and to the surprise of many, even managed to draw the ODIs, this despite Pakistan having full use of its fabled and famed first-choice pace attack. Of course, us neutrals can prattle on for hours or even days about how England are woeful or the Aussies are past-it, but probably better to rely on the views of someone who is actually there.

I quote below from two posts by Seamer on WAT – this chap’s an experienced cricket follower. And he was at the Gabba for both of the first two days. He is a Queensland local, and as is the wont for residents of that state, is a staunch Aussie in every way, shape and form. He is also not someone who is averse to a bit of Pommie bashing. The views quoted below thus have added relevance, coming as they do from a strong Aussie supporter:

Post 1

A great two days for an Aussie fan. Glad i was there for them. I am not too keen to make series predictions yet though – i still think the series will be close, though there is little doubt Aus will go 1-0 up at the Gabba.

It was really bad toss for England to lose. A dry hard wicket that is already starting to crack up both down and across the wicket. There is still plenty of runs there, but batting will get progressively harder each hour the test goes on.

Anderson and Harmison failed to put the ball in the right spots and consistantly bowled too short or too full. Flintoff of course was superb and contrary to what others are saying, so was Hoggard. Giles tossed it up and to his credit bowled in a quite attacking fashion but he, Panaser or any other finger spinner was always destined to struggle on the Gabba

Flintoff is tactically inept IMO. So is Ponting too i suppose, so both teams cancel each other out in the captaincy stakes at least.

The hot, humid weather was brutal, but i was surprised at the level of England fitness. They bowled and fielded well for the entire innings. Hoggart’s effort to nail both Ponting and Gilchrist in his 29th over is an example of the tenacity showed by most of the English team (with the exception of Harmison – i would be absolutely ashamed of myself if i was him)

My conclusion is England are definately up for the challenge – England teams from bygone years would have broken but this lot did not. Despite the seemingly one sided state of affairs, England actually looked good from my perspective from the sidelines. Australia can be well pleased of their efforts too and there can be no doubt they are hungry and keen for revenge.

This series might well live up to the hype yet.

Post 2

Yes there are many reasons why the Aussies will be highly motivated. Revenge for sure, all the barbs at there age, and home ground advantage. They will take some beating.

But i am just saying that while on the surface England look like they are playing poorly, they are not. They were generally sharp in the field, and Flintoff, Hoggard and to a lesser degree Giles, bowled really well through the entire innings under very difficult conditions. Jones was awesome behind the stumps too.

I have been watching Gabba test for over a decade and this was the first time in ages that the opposition did’nt get mentally broken. They were bested, but not broken. They have earned my respect after watching them the last two days in any case. Drop Anderson, have Harmison find form and win some tosses and game on IMO.

So all in all, yes, England will probably lose the Ashes this time. But not because they are woeful, but because this is a truly special Australian team, playing together perhaps for the last time, in its own back-yard. These southern hemisphere types generally don’t need any additional motivation, but here, we can add in the sheer humiliation of being the first team to lose the Ashes for 18 odd years – the “Dad’s Army” of Antipodean cricketers would like to set the record straight. Two of them in particular: Warne & McGrath. All-time greats, both of them; would they really even countenance ending their glorious careers by losing to the Poms twice in a row, and this time, in their own back-yard?

Think about it.

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Comments»

1. orchid - 25 November 2006

Ahhh finally a cricket related update and that too not a moment too soon. I was having serious doubts about the validity of the tagline that mentions cricket twice ;)
As for the topic, how can one stop bashing when it hasn’t even really begun? As you mention yourself, the series is only 2 days old… and there is lot more falling left for England, then you’ll see what real bashing is ;) . For a team that has given silly excuses like ‘cabin fever’ for it’s dismal recent overseas performance, it’ll be interesting to see what we’ll hear this time!!
Ooh aah Glen…..

2. Abu Abdur Rahman - 28 November 2006

Orchid: I was having serious doubts about the validity of the tagline that mentions cricket twice ;)

You know what they say…never believe the marketing spiel. :-)

I never said this blog did what it said on the tin…

As for the rest of your comment, then well… gloat all you want, it’s water off a duck’s back as far as I am concerned. And I am sure you remember the scoreline this summer. What was it again? 3-0 you say? Oh ok! :-)

3. orchid - 2 December 2006

“What was it again? 3-0 you say? Oh ok! :-)”

Why would anybody want to bring up Pakistan vs England when we are talking Ashes is beyond me :) . However, England are doing pretty well right now, so I’ll just shut up.

Any plans on writing a tribute to Yousuf? Everybody seems to be doing it and he does deserve it.

4. Moderate Enlightenment - 3 December 2006

I brought up Eng v Pak as Pakistani supporters such as you have short memories. :-) Its easy to gloat at the expense of the poor Poms, but at least they beat us, fair and square (well okay, fair in two of the three games…the less said about the third, the better..was more square than fair).

Yousaf deserves more than a mealy-mouthed tribute from me. In any case, its no fun doing something when everyone else is doing it too – you should know that by now. We have the ungainly spectacle of even the likes of Kamran Abbasi and Osman Samiuddin, both perennial Yousaf-bashers and “Paki-liberals”, now jumping on the Yousaf-bandwagon. Of course, being Pakistan “liberals”, these guys wouldn’t have any shame anyway.

I’ll probably write a tribute to Yousaf bhai when he is again being vilified by the Führer and his acolytes for his beard or something… ;-)

5. orchid - 6 December 2006

What on earth happened to England on the last day of the 2nd test? Shock and horror really… No I’m not gloating, I actually feel pretty bad and sorry for them. It’s not fun to lose like that, I wouldn’t want that happening to Pakistan.


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