This is where, nearly fifty years ago, Len Williams, father of John, the classical guitarist, began taking in the rescued pet ancestors of the present inhabitants, plus a few wandering Homo Sapiens eager to drop out of the hurley burley of the market economy and give the cooperative life-style a go.
Len’s creation was a challenge at that time to every zoo in the world with their cages, fences, moats, electric restraints and behaviour distorting confinement. It was a sanctuary, in deed a wild future, in which the Woolley monkeys could rediscover their woolleymonkeyhood. A world without fences.
Third Man and the Squire made a number of visits to The Monkey Sanctuary in the hot summer of 1976; enjoying their chance to sit at the feet of the great conservationist, who liked nothing more than frightening the hell out of Homo Sapiens he selected for trial.
In anything but usual zoo behaviour, Len would select an unlucky visitor, e.g. your scribe; rattle his tin of Golden Virginia in which he kept grapes as tidbits, and then encourage the alpha male of the pack to protect him (and those grapes) from the marauding stranger (a TM urgently trying to remember the appropriate submissive gestures used by Woolley monkeys).
The Squire reminded TM of these visits and humiliations when they both witnessed their all-time favourite batsman, Kevin Pietersen, poked and jostled through the symbolic bars that confined this wonderful freedom loving animal in a press conference on the eve of the fourth test at the MCG.
“Those who visit zoos and torment the animal ‘exhibits’, Third Man, are generally displaying their own ignorance and ineptitude. Put simply, the press are not fit to tie the Pietersen boot laces and because they know this in their feeble hearts they delight in his degradation and captivity.”
In the Squire’s way of thinking, Pietersen is a more important player in the history of cricket than even Tendulka, Lara, Kallis, McGrath and Warne, because he is one of the five or six batsmen and bowlers who have imagined and played out a revolution in the way a central facet of the game is played.
“To see that magnificent creature maltreated in this way makes me want to adopt the tactics of the animal liberationists. There’s a case for returning in the dead of night with wire cutters and explosives to set him free, TM.”
In the ‘presser’, Pietersen, had resembled ‘Guy’ at Regents Park behind his glass screen, the higher life form looking back on his so called observers with a mixture of bemusement and incredulity.
“How can they know so little?” both wondered.
A more respectful and thus emotionally a more intelligent analysis of these four test matches would focus on the inability of England batsman (excepting Stokes once) to post significant scores when once ‘in’. Thirties, forties and even fifties there have been, but these substantial foundations have been wasted. And for England bowlers not to be able to exploit early successes.
Why? Because Australian bowling, excluding Johnson, has quickly turned negative when once a batsmen has appeared to establish himself. Negative and effective. To the change in tactics by their opponents, England batsmen have … well, have continued blissfully on with their relentless, unintelligent attack.
“Of the two sides out there, only one is playing chess,” Guy would have gestured.
Australian batting also relies on the attack a l’outrance, but where their bowlers, sensing resistance, revert to the defensive line, England bowlers in the spirit of their batsmen blazon on meeting attack with counterattack in battles that they have lost more times than they have won. These poor odds once accepted have gifted Australia enough runs to set up three easy victories.
Even with the great form of Johnson in the mix, it has been judgements over when to attack and when to defend that have been the deciding differences between these two sides: tactical naivety in the visitors and tactical prowess in the home camp.
Australia have been the better thinkers, the higher primates.
Stripped of confidence and, in the case of some, devoid of the technical competence necessary in these confines, England is manifesting the neutered, aberrant, asocial behaviour of captive animals.
Today’s events (Australia nine down for chips) proves rather than disproves the point .of this piece written before start of the play on the second day in Melbourne. It was only a matter of time before Australia’s batting collided with the real world in the form of judicious, thoughtful bowling.
Notwithstanding the second day, England need to find a sanctuary in which to get their brains working again, to find their Englandhood again. TM suggests that, on their return to the Mother country, They all spend a day with the Wild Futures charity and Len William’s Woolley monkeys down in Cornwall.
“Watch out for the alpha male, Kev, he’s meaner than he looks.”