Tag Archives: Ashes 2010

Start-rite – An Ashes Album Page 1

The modern ritual of Test cricket allocates two half days to each side for pre-match preparations at the venue.  This keeps the sides apart and gives each, for a while, exclusive use of the territory. 

At the Gabba, over the years, this has most often been the only time a visiting side has experienced such a sense of ownership.

Here at the start of this winter’s Ashes series, Team England in its entirety of more than two dozen meet the Gabba which when empty looks like a random piece of mosaic but when full can take on the daunting qualities of a bear pit.

All but a couple of the squad are dutifully summoning the positive through joy, a mental technique advocated by Andy Flower.  Only Swann (far left) allows his mind to wander towards the camera, like a schoolboy who finds it hard to concentrate on teacher.  While is that Anderson behind them, out of the union, surveying curator Kevin Mitchell’s handy work?  

Having won the toss and chosen to bat, Andrew Strauss revs onto the field swinging his bat, briefly obscuring his partner Alastair Cook.

The old comrades touch gloves before the enforced parting known to openers, who must each ultimately face alone their cricketing destiny.

Strauss misjudges the width of the third ball of the series when England have yet to score and, cramped for room and off balance, he slices upwards rather than cuts downwards the delivery from Hilfenhaus. 

He shot a Kookaburra in the air

It fell to earth he knew not where

For so swiftly did it fly, his sight

Couldn’t follow it in its flight.

Like a heat-seeking missile, the ball locates the solitary life-form in a huge expanse of the Gabba behind square, the solitary Michael Hussey, who clutches it in the amazement a hermit shows when encountering an unexpected pilgrim.

England’s toppled leader strikes his helmet with an opened gloved hand and in self-chastisement solicitis an explantion from himself, “What have I done?”

Note: The images are supposed to take on the dream-like quality of fading memories.  If you are looking at this in a year’s time they may have disappeared or transformed themselves entirely.

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Days Like This

When it’s not always raining
there’ll be days like this
When there’s noone complaining
there’ll be days like this
Everything falls into phase
like the flick of a switch
Well my momma told me
there’ll be days like this

When you don’t need to worry
there’ll be days like this
When noone’s in a hurry
there’ll be days like this
When you don’t get betrayed
by that old Judas kiss
Oh my momma told me
there’ll be days like this

When you don’t need an answer
there’ll be days like this
When you don’t meet a chancer
there’ll be days like this
When all the parts of the puzzle
start to look like they fit
Then I must remember
there’ll be days like this

When everyone is upfront
and they’re not playing tricks
When you don’t have no freeloaders
out to get their kicks in
When it’s nobody’s business
the way that you wanna live
I just have to remember
there’ll be days like this

When noone steps on my dreams
there’ll be days like this
When people understand what I mean
there’ll be days like this
When you bring out the changes
of how everything is
Well my momma told me
there’ll be days like this

Oh my momma told me
there’ll be days like this
Well my momma told me
there’ll be days like this
Oh my momma told me
there’ll be days like this
Oh my momma told me
there’ll be days like this

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Declining and Falling

Watching six Australian second innings wickets fall pell-mell on the third day of the fourth Test in Melbourne in a demonstration of abject inferiority, it was difficult for Third Man not to sense the tremors which attend the reallocation of that easy pleasure enjoyed by the culturally dominant as one civilization declines and falls and another strengthens and rises.  And in the instant to experience also the intuition that it is always only a matter of time. 

As Turner sought to express in the painting above, when the sun set over Carthage and the enervated Carthaginians surrendered their arms and their children to Rome, somewhere not far away Vandals awaited their day. 

MCG: XXVIII.xii.MMX

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There is More

Before Kingston, before Adelaide, even before Kennington, they were playing cricket on this, the very first ‘Oval’ hewn from a hillside on the north side of the Ribble Valley with its dramatic view of Pendle Hill.  

From this frequently windswept vantage in September 1870, Gerald Manley Hopkins apparently watched the Northern Lights and from it, if the reader could look back over the photographer’s shoulder, he or she could see, uninterrupted by anything higher, a spot many miles inland from the coast of French Guiana.  Now there is a thought for a Christmas morning.

As the England and Australian cricketers make their way to bed, Third Man would like to thank those kind enough to read and contribute to his ramblings on this most peculiar social phenomenon called cricket with its power to reveal character, to instil joy and to make us think deeply about the nature of our existence in a brief, intriguing and captivating interval of time and space.

As the players take the field for the fourth Test, indeed as anyone of us takes the field in cricketing days to come, as we step across the boundary rope to mark our run or take our guard we utter, “What I do is me: for that I came.”*

But there is more.

* from As Kingfishers Catch Fire  by GMK

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How Good Was Jimmy Anderson*

Cricket is a batsman’s game.  Third Man won’t even bother to look at who won Man of the Match at Adelaide, and not just because he’s already made up his own mind, which of course he has.

Over at Wisden Cricketer, Edward Craig, writes a few hundred words on Player Awards for the Test without once mentioning the Lancastrian whose first innings figures were 19 overs, 4 maidens, four for 51.

Anderson’s wickets included three of the top four in Australia’s batting line up – Watson , Ponting and Clarke.

As Anderson would know from his days playing for Burnley, in the Lancashire League, they take the cap round for a batsmen when he scores 50 and then again when he scores 100.  You have to take 5 wickets as a bowler to have a cap taken round for you. And many clubs give batsmen special trophies for scores of 100, but ignore bowlers with Michelles and better.

So how do we put a batting valuation on Anderson’s performance?

We could say that 100 and a 5fer are equivalent which values a wicket at 20 runs.  That’s what they do for the honours boards at most Test grounds.

But does a score of 100 at Adelaide really compare with a 5fer?  And is a 5-fer which includes nine, ten, jack as good as a 4-fer that takes out an opener and numbers three and four? 

Let’s try this: you might expect a ‘par’ first innings score of around 500 for 6 at Adelaide.  England scored 620 for 5, so that ‘par’ calculation isn’t unreasonable.  This means that 8 batsmen contribute on average 62.5 each.  Anderson’s 4-fer would work out as the equivalent of 250.

On the other hand, we could take the Test averages of Anderson’s victims and add them up: 41, 54, 48 and 14 or 157 in total, except that we should take their averages for their first ‘digs’, which would be perhaps 25% higher, giving a equivalent of close to a double hundred. 

Yet what do Watson, Ponting and Clarke average ‘first up’ at Adelaide? Higher still, surely.

In the end perhaps a qualitative evaluation is the only sensible one.  Australia never recovered from the shock of those two fantastic late swinging deliveries, each of perfect pitch, that removed Ponting and Clarke. They set the psychological tone for what followed.  Talk about targeting the Captain (and Vice-Captain!)

It was as if Jimmy had barged his way into the Australian dressing room and on the facing wall painted in blood: Your Defeat is Inevitable.

* How Good was Jimmy Anderson could be a question or a statement depending on the choice of punctuation.  Third Man leaves it to the reader to make their own decision.

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Shared Experiences in the Two Hundreds

As Kevin Pietersen probably discovered a few hours ago, when you get into the two hundreds your memory can become a little spongy about earlier stages in your innings – you may also become prone to mild hallucinations.

As regular readers know, Third Man is about 290 not out*, having been born in the late 1720s.  He was therefore a mere strip of a boy when the Laws were re-written at the Star and Garter during that very fine season of ‘44

‘Lemonade for the Boy,’ had said his Grace the Duke that night, “And bring paper, a quill and ink. We can’t let it happen again.”

So, when Third Man woke this morning and scraped the ice off the time machine to check the batteries and to see that everything was as it should be, he was surprised to find that a few readers had been travelling back to a long forgotten post in the log for the 1st of September, 2010 – Will the Old Kevin Pietersen Please Stand Up 

TM has been banging on about the changes Pietersen had made to his trigger movement which had the effect of surrendering the radical positioning his innovating genius had created for him.

But as this scoring chart for his innings of 213 not out, made in 296 balls identifies, the return to something like his old trigger is getting him on the right side of the ball and producing a 60:40 ratio of on-side to off-side scoring. 

This and the use of his huge reach on the front foot meant that, in his first 100 runs, not a single one of them was scored in the quadrant behind square on the off-side.

But TM still thinks that O’Keefe who bowled KP in Hobart (see here)  might have posed more problems than poor Master Doherty. 

On the other hand, Hauritz, must be walking round Sydney tonight with a smile on his face.

Here at the cottage on the Squire’s estate at World’s End, the worst of the hallucinations seem to have passed and TM can’t for the life of him find anywhere that old mobile phone (pictured at the top of the page)  – he must have been dreaming.

*As AE theorized, and TM knows only too well, travelling through time  plays havoc with the aging process.

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Mister Cricket no Mystery Man

Yesterday England too often drove across the line at full deliveries and paid the price.  Today Mike Hussey showed the wiser alternative, playing straight and ‘shutting the door’ on the full delivery.  To anything short he attacked. 

Where he could,  he endeavoured to dictate the bowler’s length – pushing it back to a point where he could, pressing off the front foot, rock back to pull and cut. 

 Hussey played 11 pulls which brought him 40 runs.  What a ratio!

England batsmen and bowlers could learn from that simple game plan: batsmen defend on the front foot, attack on the back; bowlers, use line and field settings to tempt batsmen into attack off the front foot – as Siddle did yesterday.

It is always a pleasure to see an experienced professional rise to the challenge, apply that experience and demonstrate his temperament.

It must have been like that to watch ‘Patsy’ Hendren (top of the page), long ago – another Mister Cricket.

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