Wednesday, 15 December 2010


The Clamour and the Glamour

The Aussies really are in a right old pickle. Fair to say that consistency of selection has well and truly gone out of the window, particularly in the spinning department.

Let's have a quick recap.

Nathan Hauritz dropped for Brisbane, replaced by Xavier Doherty. Ricky Ponting liked the look of him during a rare outing for Tasmania. Hauritz responds by taking career-best figures for NSW and even throws in a century for good measure. Doherty shows some promise at the Gabba and is retained for Adelaide...where he has a bit of a meltdown. Ponting probably doesn't like the look of him now.

Ok so young Xavier has to be given a break for Perth. Back to Hauritz right? Er, no... time for a Beer. Well, he has played a grand total of five first-class matches. Did fairly well against England, but wasn't selected in the original 17-strong Australian Ashes squad. Or for Australia A come to think of it. But no matter, he’ll be right.

Just like many of the petty rules in Australia, the whole thing really does beggar belief. Beer could end up taking 10 wickets against England…he could also end up seeing his pies express delivered to all parts of the WACA.

Surely now is the time to put the call into Warney. Or maybe a text…a tweet even.

They say in sport you should always make the move that the opposition would like the least...and for an English cricket fan the sight of Shane Warne bounding into the middle, baggy green on head, cherry in hand is probably top of the list.

Picture the scene. The MCG. Boxing Day. Warney's home turf. Australia scraped home for an unconvincing draw in Perth. One down with two Tests to play.

England wins the toss in Melbourne, Cook and Strauss strap on the pads and head to the middle. For the first hour they make yet more hay as Johnson/ Bollinger/ Harris/ Siddle/ Hilfenhaus/ Cameron/ Lee/ McGrath/ Hughes/ Thomson/ Lillee/ A.N Other Aussie Quick steam in with bluster but little penetration.

Ponting has seen enough and tosses the ball to that man, to predictable raucous cheers from the stands. England's openers look at each other with something approaching minor panic. Is it going to be the flipper, the top spinner, the googly, the slider, or the tried and tested rippin' leg break...? Can he still bowl all these variations?

Captain Strauss walks down the track, dabs the hallowed turf with his trusted willow and glances up at the great man as he casually spins the ball from one hand to the other. Strauss takes guard and here comes the blonde bombshell with that familiar Sunday-stroll-to-the-beach gait. The action and accuracy haven’t changed a bit and the ball pitches outside Strauss' off stump. Two nations hold their breath.

It's the conventional leg spinner. It turns murderously and smashes into the middle stump of the England skipper.

Might have a game on here.

There are a few twists and turns to come but the headlines after the final day in Sydney reveal that Warne has defied age, common sense and skepticism to win back the Ashes for Australia. A nation salutes its conquering hero. Twitter goes into meltdown. Hugh Grant texts his congrats.

There's a simpler story which goes something like this: Warne watches Ashes from London hotel room (Liz has got filming commitments, it's just easier this way), clinical England retains Ashes in Perth, wins series at the MCG with another thumping victory and by the time the bandwagon rolls into Sydney the home support and the Barmy Army have forgotten the cricket and are chilling at Bondi by day and partying at King’s Cross by night.

But that's no fun is it?

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