Friday, September 9

Day 1 at The Oval

The Rock Star & the One Man Band
Shane Warne’s sheer poetry with the ball is drowned out by the clashing beats of his persona. Bowling with a majesty that is nothing if not riveting, his art could have been poetry if it weren’t for the way he is- he is more the in-your-face rock star than the beautiful poet, more Morrison than Blake.

Yesterday, he was a lone warrior. If there was one reason any English supporter (or a neutral who might ‘feel’ for them, and be glad that the dominating team is being challenged) would not mind Australia retaining The Ashes, it would be Shane Warne. He is the one you would feel bad for, his passion. And this defiance in the face of loss or adversity was visible yesterday. On a first day pitch that offered only a little assistance, amidst a bowling attack that looked toothless at worst and manageable at best, he donned his leather jacket and took to the stage in a blinding flash of drama and style. What followed was a mesmerising act, leaving all who witnessed it in awe of the depth, character and talent that characterise his performances. If Australia lose the Ashes, more than anyone else, it will be a travesty to this man.

Side notes:
Simon Katich had been speaking to Warne a few overs before the Strauss dismissal, and moving in straighter from his sill mid-off position. At one time, he and Warne chatted, and I could hear Warne say as he walked back to his mark “just ask punter”. Not long after, Katich took that stunner (photos 4 & 5) to dismiss Strauss.

Andrew Flintoff
Played beautifully, played with class. When he gout out, though, it seemed to me there might have been a bit of anxiety writ on his face as he walked off, knowing that England might be looking at a score lower than what would take the heat off (photo 18) them. Unlike Flintoof, who looks at ease and like he is enjoying himself most of the time.

It might just have been both teams were a tad defensive (safe) in the way they played yesterday- England once Warne was bowling, Australia most of the time Warne was not.

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