A little bit about me and my little blog

This is by far not the first cricket blog to be written and it certainly won't be the last (or necessarily the best). But it's mine.

This is mainly an excuse for me to carry on about a sport that has been something of an obsession since I was knee high to a middle stump. An obsession which has never left throughout the many highs (behave, there have been some) and lows (and boy have there been many of those…..) of being and England cricket fan in the years since.

The views and opinions in this blog are entirely my own. Sometimes light-hearted, occasionally irreverent, hopefully never offensive.

What gives this fool the right to have an opinion on this great sport? Where are his credentials I hear you ask? Well I think my catch at mid-on in the inter-house final at Heath Grammar school in 1981 speaks for itself…..

Sunday, 8 December 2013

The Ashes 2013/2014 -part 3: Infamy Infamy. They've all got it in for me!

I'm not sure when or how IT happened exactly, I simply know that IT did. I do have a number of theories as to how IT took place; 

One theory was that sometime in August I was abducted by Aliens and therefore IT isn't actually happening, IT is simply the result of the nightmarish alien induced hallucinations that I'm forced to endure whilst at this very moment being strapped to a device on some spaceship somewhere in the outer extremities of the galaxy (please, no mention of Alien probing, lets keep this piece clean for once people). Their experiments of just how much horror one man (albeit one of brave and noble character as myself) can endure psychologically obscene material before running headlong into the nearest oncoming traffic are horrifying, truly horrifying.

Another theory is that a month or so ago while I was skipping gaily and nonchalantly on my way home I inadvertently wandered through a rip in the Time/Space continuum and was taken back in time to a dark and depressing time in the history of humanity that often saw IT not only happening again and again, and with an ever more surreal and soul-destroying appearance. Yes my friends, I'm talking about watching English Test cricket in the 1990's.........enough to send a shiver downs one spine.

There is however another theory, and one that strikes this blogger with pain and terror. The theory is as follows: IT is really happening, we are at the moment getting our cricketing arses well and truly thumped by a better team. Not only that, we are not the same team we once were, some players are best their better days and there seems to be a genuine lack planning on how to counter the opposition. I know for some that will be a bitter pill to swallow - but it is painfully true for all to see, so far in the Ashes series we are being beaten well.
And that my friends is the truth of IT.

I will leave it to far more qualified and knowledgeable people to analyse in detail where exactly the fault lies with Captain Cook and his band of bashed-around men. However, the self-opinionated so and so within me won't be able to let things go without offering some form of jaundiced opinion of course....because believe me there is some fault, whether it be in the back-room and and/or on-field approach. I have lost count in the past week or so the theories for the gradual demise in batting form over the past year or so for example, and the subsequent numerous suggestions as to what should be our most effective batting order. The debate for example of who should bat at number 3 after Jonathan Trott's personal problems depart the tour for home has more resembled an old Abbot and Costello routine in some areas of the Twittersphere. (For those uneducated in classic comedy I suggest you type 'who's on first base?' into your youtubey search thingamajig. So I suppose one more opinion won't harm, will it?

However before I think about our own problems, perhaps, just perhaps, we should be looking more to the opposition, because quite frankly so far in the first two Test matches they have out-bowled, out-fielded, out-batted us and out-sledged us. Apart from that there hasn't been too much difference between the two teams.......

Which brings me onto a certain Mitchell Johnson. I mentioned before this series that the continual treatment as the cartoon clown and pantomime villain of the Aussie team was frought with danger. Yes he may have had a penchant for bowling very much to the left and just as possibly to the right, but many people seem to have forgot along the way just how lethal he could be when he gets it right.....and I think that it's safe to say that so far in the series he has sort of got it pretty much right. I have to admit - when it comes to the art of bowling I'm more of a lover of the fast bowler than spin bowler. It could be the result in growing up in the era of Lillie and Thompson and 5,000 West Indian bowlers which led to this love, I'm not sure. What is for certain that for all his genius, I would always enjoy watch Shane Warne bowling, but would much prefer to see the likes of Shoaib Akhtar steaming in to bowl.

So, as a lover of the art of the fast bowler old Mitch's performance in scaring the living crap out of our batsmen has been nothing short of monstrous. The third day of the 2nd Test was a case in point when we witnessed one of the great Ashes performances of all time - and believe me, as an England supporter this is not easy to say. However, said it has to be, as the three overs after lunch saw Johnson take five of our wickets. Not only that, overall in 26 balls he grabbed six wickets for a mere 16 runs. In amongst the carnage this all included a triple-wicket maiden - not bad for a cartoon villain. At the time of writing this, he has a grand total of 17 wickets at an unbelievable average of 8.93.

I think it is safe to say that he is enjoying repaying some of the (often justified) stick that he has been on the receiving end from English players and fans alike for the past few years.

On the other hand, some of our play and decision making has been a little baffling to say the least. I could be wrong (and I often am, as my family and friends would testify to) that in an effort to counter the fast paced chaos of Mitchell et al it had been decided by our coaching staff that we were going to do the same. In essence, fight aggression with aggression. At least that is the only explanation that I could come up with to suggest the need for some hari-kari batting from Captain Cook and the boys. Cook's dismissal as he was caught hooking (yes you read that correctly) to long leg was so alien to his normal style of play meant that I had to rewind the coverage to make sure I had seen it right.  

Oh god, have we had another team meeting with Graham Gooch? It seems that way because I would have normally put that shot down to the pressures of a captain under the severest of Ashes pressure, except for the fact that this seems to be something of a developing trend after Michael Carberry decided to try the very same thing.

I can see that meeting between Gooch and the team right now....."Right then boys,  I scored a million runs against Malcolm Marshal and the rest of those so-called quickies back in the day when it was me and a pants team against the rest of the world, so this is how we're going to do it. That Mitchell Johnson deserves a good tonking for that nasty sledging that he's doing, so while I know that we have to bat it out for two days to save the Test, but that doesn't matter. Lets give it them boys!!!, boys?"

The simple facts are that the Aussies are outplaying us. In three successive innings our once renowned middle order so far in the series has now been blown well and truly away. We lost six wickets for nine runs in the first innings in Brisbane, four for nine in the second and now four for six currently in Adelaide. So far not so good.

I don't particularly care about the incidents of sledging, that should be no excuse. Yes once again bad feeling seems to be permitting through the exchanges between players, but as long as threats to break opponents arms are kept to a minimum I have no problem with some of the theatre that it brings.

I write this on the eve of the fifth and final day where we need to bat out the day with just four wickets in hand. Yet even amongst the gloom and despondency I have a splattering of optimism. Will we save this game? Probably not, but there are faint glimmers of hope. Joe Root at least seemed content to bide his time on the 4th day and accumulate runs slowly and Bell still remains imperial at times. - but Bell MUST bat at three (see, I just couldn't stay away from that debate!). Many will disagree with me but Swann now seems to be a shadow of the bowler he once was - sentimentality should play no part, he needs to be replaced - probably by Monty as a like for like.

And for crying out loud, will somebody give Graham Onions a ring and tell him we're very very sorry, have made a terrible mistake and that there's a first class ticket to Perth waiting for him at Heathrow??!!

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