Tag Archives: Melbourne Test

The Sage of Fitzwilliam

There is polite silence across the media about Geoffrey Boycott’s prediction , at 2343 hours GMT or 13 minutes into the 4th Test at Melbourne that, “I can’t see any way how England can win this Test from what I’ve seen so far.”

To which Jonathan Agnew replied, “But Geoffrey, they have only been playing for 12 minutes!” 

“But I know these things, Jonathan.  I am paid to know them.”

Actual result, England won by an innings and 157 runs.

“Close, oh Master, but no cigar.”

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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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Seeing the Wood for the Trees – Trott, Ponting and Cricket Australia D2 T4

Yesterday Third Man maintained that England cricketers were dominant even after their set backs at Perth because their minds were stronger than those of the Australians. 

Today, the mind of the captain of Australia fractured into smithereens before the eyes of the cricketing world, its pieces splintering into a thousand fragments each shard available to be used against him.  Cricket is cruel – just how cruel Ponting is about to discover.

Defeat no longer takes place solely on the field, if indeed it ever did. Today defeat takes place in the virtual field that connects us all.  The Punter’s rant (because it was a decisive gamble and one too many) against the umpires was a declaration not of strength but of impotence.

His thinking, confused and racing under the pressures that accelerate time, locked onto and magnified the importance of the unimportant – the cardinal error in decision making.

Institutions also think, so, shortly afterwards the feeble mind of Cricket Australia, in the person of their Chief Executive, was on show in all its mental confusion as it  elevated the importance of unity and ignored the importance of a total apology for its captain’s error of judgement. 

Cricket needed immediate contrition and a promise that Cricket Australia would take action independently of the match officials as well as accepting any decision that they might make.  Instead cricket got the wrong kind of spin.

A Trott in the Present

Meanwhile Jonathan Trott was giving everyone a lesson in excluding the unimportant from consideration.   For five and half hours or more he gave that which might only distract his concentration on the ‘now’ no head space whatsoever.

With training, thought and practice he has construct a technique founded on the firmest of bases, mentally and actually.  From this solid base he performs each element that makes up a precisely timed shot. 

After each shot he takes a mental rest.  Who knows he may even tell himself a joke. Sometimes he dallies with the past by looking up to the replay screen. Perhaps he mentally pinches himself and asks, “Am I really here?”

But this kind of excursion from the crease is brought to an end when he decides – yes, when he decides that it is time to get back to the importance of the present.  The path of the excursion he takes is trodden by a series of well defined and ritual actions that lead him unvaryingly back to ‘now’.

By this route to the present he wins for himself freedom from both the past and the future.  It is the liberty to play correctly from his carefully chosen and practiced palette of strokes.  So what if these tend by a ratio of 2:1 to favour the leg side.  He is not out 141. 

It is a joy to watch and a lesson in stripping out the unimportant – in seeing the wood for the trees.

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Believing is Seeing

Like so much in life, cricket is a mind game.  In this 2010/11 Ashes series, England’s minds are stronger than those of the Australians. QED.

They exploit the immediate past and its effect on the present better than their opponents.

Losing the toss in the fourth Test at Melbourne ten hours ago will have drained any hope built on the momentum from Perth.  Yes, there is such a thing as momentum but it is short hand for the influence of what has occurred on what is occurring – to borrow from the Welsh philosopher Ruth Jones.

Despite thrashing England in Perth, the Australians never truly believed that they could succeed – or more accurately they stubbornly believed they would fail. And so, therefore they did.  Action follows thought.  Time past too easily dominates and therefore determines the present.

[Time future – the wanting – is even more mercurial and, although useful to those with strong wills, can be disabling to the average Joe or Joanna.]

Sport is also territorial. It is about the seizing and securing of ground and of making that ground familiar. Possession is ten tenths.

In producing at the MCG a playing surface more familiar to a Yorkshire man and a side that plays at Headingley at least once a year – even down to the effect of cloud coverage on conditions – Australia surrendered home advantage.

Then, in leaving in their droves, the Australian spectators abandoned their field and left the spoils to a barmy army with, at its core, The Barmy Army who have never shouldered belief and have always been there offering unconditional support for their team.

The sun came out and Cook, especially, batted with an almost hypnotic rhythm as if he was making hay in the Squire’s meadow – homely and familiar stuff.

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