Saturday, November 04, 2006

Ashes Ramblings 1

Nineteen days to go until Freddie walks out at the Gabba to toss up with Ponting...


Talking of 'Rickeee' - doesn't he remind you of the nervy guy you see in most gangster movies - the one hovering in the background, unable to stand still for very long because he's so wired and uptight. The constant gum-chewing and nervous darting of the eyes, and frequent demands for reassurance when he's consulting with other gang members. Even in moments of apparent calm, he still comes across as a borderline psychotic - Travis Bickle in flannels if you will. If things turn nasty for the Australians, he could well crack - and Freddie knows it...


To the Australians last summer, I suspect Ian Bell was rather like the school new boy - earnest look on his face, pencils all sharpened and blazer clean and tidy, but very easy to torment and woefully wanting when the heat was put on him. Well now the 'new boy' has grown up over the summer holidays, so when they go back for the start of the new term, he's likely to give the 'bullies' quite a nasty fright.

Not that Bell is going to go so far as to pull a knife or anything, - though imagine how much fun that would be. The stump microphone picks up a muttered sledge from Hayden at first slip - which is followed up by an anguished squeal from Gilchrist - ''Jeez, look out Matty - he's got a blade!'' Next thing the players surround Bell, who's got a knife to the throat of a petrified Hayden and is shouting "I'll cut 'im, I'll cut 'im" - until Freddie has to intervene and pull Bell away with the killer line - "Sorry guys, he's liable to do this at any time..."

Up in the Sky TV box Gower would sound alarmed, Nasser would grin to himself, and of course, Botham would tell all and sundry that the knife is nowhere near as big as the one he used to use....

More likely is that Bell will take the opportunity for some serious revenge for past embarrassments. As I've mentioned here before, he's already strutting around as though he owned the place - where better to pick up the title deeds than Perth or Melbourne?


Andrew Strauss seems to have developed two public persona for the media - which is at least two more than Liam Plunkett - the early favourite in the 'surplus to requirements' stakes this winter.

Strauss has obviously thought long and hard about his TV appearances. Firstly, he almost comes across like a regretful Bond villian, sitting in the dressing room ponderously stroking a white cat, saying stuff like - ''Personally I abhor violence on the cricket field Mr Langer, but my colleague Oddjob (Harmy) isn't so fastidious''- but then he seems to remember his roots and puts on the 'Public School/Middlesex CC' act during a TV interview, and suddenly he's an updated Terry-Thomas - likely to turn round and tell the Aussie slip cordon that they are a 'frightful shower'. A bit like Mike Atherton's "when in Rome old boy" comment to Ian Healey at Adelaide in 1994 when the keeper took issue with Athers for not walking after a blatant edge had been missed by the umpire.

Read & Jones

Here's a new take on the Read/Jones debate. Think of them like girlfriends. In this scenario Jones is the absolute stunner who makes all your friends jealous when she's clinging to your arm, shows you the best possible time for a couple of months, but then turns out to have worryingly unstable moments, like stripping off at a party, or downing a bottle of bacardi in one. Fun, and for a short time exhilarating yes, but after a while you start craving the quiet life - which is where Read comes in. Read is the sensible choice - the girlfriend you can take home to meet your mother without worrying that she might make a pass at your father, or throw up in the flowerbed at a family BBQ.

Trust me on this - the first time Read goes across in front of first slip and makes the catch, rather than pushing the ball round the post which was a Jones speciality, you'll know exactly what I mean.


Talking of 'first slip' - it's all been very quiet on the Trescothick front lately. Unlike Ashley Giles, whose default position seems to be 'rentaquote', 'Tresco' has been Mr Invisible since the end of the season. I was half expecting him to turn up as a guest in the Sky Studio during the ICC trophy - a role which was just designed to attract the comment 'money for old rope' - but then perhaps he, quite rightly, thought that exposure to Charles Colville for longer the five minutes is enough to drive the most sober mind to turmoil, so maybe his therapist cautioned against it.


Different tack - In 'Good Morning Vietnam', Robin Williams makes a comment about the uptight Regimental Sargeant Major who has been making his life a misery, along the lines of "I've never met a guy more in need of a 'haircut' ". Actually, he didn't use the word 'haircut' - I'm using a subtle euphamism as this is a family site. Well Alistair Cook seems the painfully quiet type, seemingly very much in need of a 'haircut' - after which he'll be giving it out to the Aussies in spades - to the extent that he'll be looking to have his 'haircut' every day....

Pietersen & Lee (!!)

When Kevin Pietersen comes up against Brett Lee in Brisbane , the testosterone will probably be visible from the stands. Beforehand, Duncan Fletcher should make Kevin watch the classic film 'When we were Kings' and start talking to him about Muhammad Ali's 'Rope-a-dope' philosophy which made such a mess of George Foreman that he turned into a kitchen appliance salesman.

Translated to cricket, 'rope-a-dope' will mean letting Lee blow himself out during the day with a series of bouncers and short pitched balls, then absolutely weighing into the exhausted, weak-ass stuff he serves up in the last session. If Pietersen can contain himself sufficiently when three out of six balls are aimed at his face (A HUGE 'if') then it could change the course of the series. If he can't then we're likely to see the Test Match version of the old backgarden game - 'six and out'.


A philosopher once said that only three things in life are ever predictable - life, death and taxes. Let me add a fourth - before the end of the series Saj Mahmood will provoke Glen McGrath into such an irrational strop that the Australian's head will explode in the middle of the pitch like in a scene from 'Scanners'. We've already establsihed that dear old Glenn is the sort who could start an arguement in an empty room. Add the fact that Saj seems to be a 'wind up merchant' of the highest order, and we could be in for a very entertaining series!

That's all for now - more soon.

PS - The shoulder is much better - thanks for asking!

No comments: