having secured the essentially meaningless number one ODI ranking until they
get annihilated in India
in January, the final game of the series was basically played for pride alone:
the wheee of a win as opposed to the meh of a draw. Still, (Confucius, he
say) winning’s a habit and all that…
However, without Flower’s forbidding dressing room presence,
were undone by what the experts call ‘sh*t batting’. And there was a
carrot-topped streak of indiscipline running through it.
First, Resilience’s Ian Ronald Belly-Lad, having prevented the ball from hitting the stumps by stopping it with one of his pads, a mode of dismissal known to the selfsame experts as ‘leg before wicket’ (or lbw), decided to spunk the sole review of the innings in the fourth over (the very fact that he had to discuss it at all ought to have told him to shuffle off for a dose of medicine…but then, he has a history of not wanting to go when dismissed on this ground). This was cricket’s equivalent of putting all your cash on the roulette wheel (red, obviously) on the first night of a once-in-a-lifetime’s-savings-funded fortnight in Vegas.
Then, after the awful inevitability of Ravi’s failure (see below), Body Language’s Jonny Bairstow played a cameo from off of the balls of his feet, bopping hither and thither to prod down the hot tin roof of a pitch, ‘taking it’ to Big Morkel with aggressive intent, before unnecessarily walking across his stumps and chipping one to deep square leg. Red Bull at a gate. After that, Eion Morgan skipped down the pitch to JP Duminy’s nondescript, _____ offies and got too close to the ball, slapping it flat to mid on.
Clearly, these donkeys cannot simply be browbeaten into performing better. No, management need the optimum balance of stick and carrot (top).
There’s a story, perhaps apocryphal, of a young (and undoubtedly high) Ozzy Osbourne earning a living in Berlin in the 1970s by being on call for an eccentric German aristocrat (if that is not itself tautological) whose highly particular fetish involved lying beneath a glass coffee table while someone (Ozzy, in this instance) perched above it and… – well, there’s not a sufficiently delicate way to put it – defecated atop the hitherto transparent surface. Whatever turns you on, I guess.
For any workshy young deviant, one for whom the last vestiges of ‘self-esteem’ have long since flown the roost, that is truly a gig to inspire envy. Getting paid for dumping – unbelievable, Jeff! (Mind you, I’m not entirely sure one could get away with listing it as a legitimate ‘job goal’ when signing a Jobseeker’s Agreement.)
Anyway, I mention Ozzy only to illustrate the fact that the modern world is full of cushty sinecures and chancers blagging it in easy billets, all of which brings us to Ravi Bopara, continually selected as a batsman for an international cricket team and yet not required to make any actual runs. Nice work if you can get it!
“But he brings a lot to the party,” his apologists counter. Fine, but his bag of cheap Es and wraps of meow-meow are no use if you don’t fancy the adult confectionary.
It’s the Big (well, Medium-Sized) Debate: are ODIs just a sugar rush (and not quite as good a sugar rush as the new stuff) providing little in the way of nourishment? Maybe. Either way, we all know “sugar’s rubbish”. But the ECB tried to persuade us that a five-match Australia series shoehorned into the middle of the summer was a worthy sporting attraction, that those bright yellow jerseys would compete with the other prominent bright yellow jerseys of the summer’s sports stories – the ones that started out clean, with the everyman brilliance of Bradley Wiggins, and yet ended sullied, with the news that seven-time Tour de France winner Lance Armstrong was to be banned for steroids, WADA completely ignoring the fact that he has beaten cancer and thus had immunity from everything… Yet this hasn’t been the only sporting drugs story of late. Oh no.
Many felt that the ECB were clutching at straws when they accused the Saffers of being drugs cheats. Sour grapes, they said. Yet, after the crushing Oval Test victory that set up the D’Oliveira series win, Graeme Smith could scarcely have been more candid: “we owe a lot to hash”. He then skipped off to fashion a makeshift bong from a Gatorade bottle. Conclusive and damning evidence, no?
Amla, meanwhile, went of for some throwdowns. He was reported to have lent his prayer mat to Alistair Cook.
“the sun always shines on TB” (A-ha!)
After some deliberation while he located the correct shelves in His omniscience, God, a.k.a. the Supreme Being (sometimes referred to as Allah or Yahweh), has given his final verdict in the great debate taking hold of Midlanders East and West – i.e. which city is the better:
or Nottingham? – and he has done it through
the medium of weather.
The game here was played out under pale blue skies (prior to the floodlit part, smartass), as had been the T20 game against the West Indies and the four days of the Wisden Trophy Test. Down the road in Brummidge, things haven’t gone quite so swimmingly (well, you know what I mean). Three out of five days of their Windies Test were washed out, as was the Cashraker ODI against
missing the ambivalent hipsterism of Stuart Broad – “I’ll give the Barnet and
clobber a whirl, but I don’t want to commit to all the sh*t on my arm” – it was
good to see a frontline seamer of real batting ability at number 8 (a pet topic
of someone of this
“He could be whatever he wants to be,” pundits are wont to say of young cricketers of promise. Well, given that young people want to be things like dragons and drones and drills, it is doubtful whether one should adhere to that notion. Even so, his naked batting talent, the excellent positions he gets into, the instinctive movement of his hands, the range of strokes, all augur well for England’s search for Test-class all-rounders: here may be a fourth seamer eventually capable of batting as high as number 6.
* NB. We have made it five in honour of
short-changing the crowd to the tune of 29 balls, thus allowing SA to knock off
with 93 balls to spare. Please take it up with the ECB. England