Monday, August 8

thoughts on the live advert for Test cricket

My two-pie bit on yesterday, and indeed, the preceding 3 days. I might not say anything epochal, but then- what do I know, I just write.

Edgbaston was a rollicking ride that test cricket has always the ability to be, sometimes is, and often is supposed to not be. For even the hardiest of believers in the charm of Test cricket, though- old school or new- this was a roller coaster that threatened to leave you giddy with exhilaration. Much like a good long row of full beer mugs would, actually, but I digress.

The second test was pivotal, really, immeasurably so for one team- and that is the team that played the match with the desperation that they surely felt coursing through their veins in the lead up. A 2-0 deficit was always going to be virtually another end to another Ashes in the most hopelessly predictable of ways. It must have been a possibility England would have been all to aware of, with substantial help from their unforgiving media. We’ll never know how much of a boost the exit of McGrath just before the toss would have been for team morale, but it was definitely reflected on the pitch. Ponting’s call at the toss might have been right, but his call on whether to bat or bowl was not. It is a decision that, I suspect, he is not getting too much (neough) flak for as yet. A certain toss in Brisbane and a certain England captain come to mind, though conditions, and teams, were substantially different then. It is only at the end of the series that this call might look more, or less, telling.

Again, I wonder if it was the absence of McGrath that allowed the English batsman to play with such abandon in the first innings. More likely a combination of a plan and a matter of striking while the iron was hot, the end result was stunning. England racked up an astonishing 407 on the first day and set was would be an equally astonishing tone for the rest of the match.
All batsmen then batted with similar lack of caution that sometimes bordered on, and often was, reckless. It was the sort of batting that ensured we were on the edge of our seats, couches, beds or bar stools- but it was also poor play.

I am not sure what is better- uniformly rash cricket or good judgement from one team and not so good from another; seeing that the former is more likely to produce thrills of the sort we have just been through, while the latter is what we have gotten used to (and bored of) in Australia’s long reign at the top. It really works both ways, for both are fabulous to behold. Somehow, though, coming at the time it did- when Australia’s supremacy was starting to border on the dull, and when the oldest rivalry was being played out- I’m rather enamoured by this impetuousness that offers equality.

Australia almost entered the match on the same high they left Lord’s with, tempered at the last minute by the withdrawal of their most dependable performer. The feeling of loss that they then stepped onto the pitch with, was never really assuaged. England, on the other hand, had an unexpected boost to what was surely an already fired up mind and body. They never let either go.

Today, Australia will be smarting but can’t be expected to wallow in their loss. They will be charged up in a way they seldom have been in recent years, for they will be fighting for pride that has very rarely been attacked thus. England, on the other hand, might still be feeling the rush. Letting that disturb their focus is a worry that we should not have about this England team- as long as they are concerned about it. It’s the one thing that could ruin them- getting carried away. I don’t expect them to, though- and Old Trafford promises to be a cracker. The only thing is- how can anything top what we have seen till now?

And, can anything at all top the most diversely and bizarrely entertaining opening days we have seen at Lord’s and Edgbaston? I don’t think so, but then- what do I know.


Ashwin Ramachandran said...

I believe the rest of this series if going to be decided not by who can batter each other even more, but who can revert to playing the waiting game when the opponent's bullying instincts rears up. IMHO, Australia seem to have the ability to switch to that side. England has just discovered a way to beat the Aussies, but they almost found ways to lose this test match. And as much as they would like to soak in the moment, Vaughan would do well to let the blokes know that finishing off a match when it should be is what makes a #1 team....something India almost discovered again yesterday. But then again its you said, what do we know?

Avinash said...

:) Anyone here watching the Ind-SL final?

Ashwin Ramachandran said...

Yea! I'll be doin live blogging for alteast the first innings. That ends at about 8:00am my time and then I got to get to work. If it sucks, then I'll probably give up earlier and get a couple of more hours of sleep.

akr said...

impressive dedication, ashwin:) I don't get the cricket here, and will be loafing around the city through most of the match. well all of the 1st half and a bit of the second. then cricinfo and ahswin shall guide me to a famous Indian victory....
oh well.

Ashwin Ramachandran said...

Well, late last night and I refused to give any attention to the alarm meant that I got up at 7:45 promptly to see SL demolish India 5 bowling strategy. I'm watching the highlights and I think Greg Chappell has his hands full with working on the mental side of things for the Indians. Especially Zaheer Khan, who has shown a worrying tendency to wilt in a big-match situation. Remember the first over of the World cup final?

akr said...

oh well, I dunno what happened- right now I am just following the last moments, and it looks like we're throwing it away....or wait- i think we've already thrown it away

Avinash said...

we played exactly like we have been playing for the past year and a half. - careless cricket, sloppy cricket, dumb cricket. Jayasuriya was dropped twice, some run-outs were missed, what should have been a 250 chase became 282. We then leave the match poised so after 40 overs:
Ind:- 209/4
SL:- 209/4
and then lose 3 wickets for 15.

Anyhow...GC would now have seen the problems first hand, interesting to see what the response will be.

Gameboys said...

I can relate to the 'giddiness' that you're talking about - the whole game had a surreal feel to it and reminded me of the last time I felt that way - the Laxman test! You're right about the quality of cricket not being up there, but hey, do we really care?

Btw, the series so far is like Exhibit A for Boycott's case for four-day test matches. I'm not sure...

- NK

shakester said...

NK- no we dont care:) After all, sport is as much entertainment as a contest (not for everyone). Though of course, evena 'contest' needs to be between equals to be of value.
I suppose you could say that things ought to be of higher quality. In the sense, as and when Australia are toppled from their pedestal, it should be more because a team has raised their standard that high, than because Australian standards fall.
but that ought to a perfect world...

shakester said...

ashwin: re: gc. I know, but the problem I think will be that everyone in India will be waiting see his results overnight. "Now that he has seen us fail, how are we going to kick ass in the next series?" Isuspect he needs more time, though I hope he doesn't.

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