Australian cricket, cremated

by Chris Bertram on January 7, 2011

I’ll be catching up on my sleep over the next few weeks, having spent many an evening up late in front of the telly followed by rising at six to see the last few overs. A tremendous achievement , almost without blemish, with records broken and many wonderful individual moments. One Australian I was drinking with last night claimed that the Ashes never meant much to them, because they could never take the urn home. Well, the fox who tried so hard reach the grapes claimed they were sour anyway. Open thead.

{ 40 comments }

1

glmmph 01.07.11 at 11:30 am

A right proper Ponting.

2

rwschnetler 01.07.11 at 12:09 pm

Enjoy while it lasts.
We will be back.

3

krhasan 01.07.11 at 12:30 pm

It was about time. Just like the great West Indies team of the seventies and early eighties, the Australians ran out of world class players.

4

a.y.mous 01.07.11 at 12:38 pm

#s 1 & 2 really had a blast enjoying top class cricket while some middle-aged men in tights were busy bemoaning a practice match in the garden over tea and scones.

Yeah. Consigned to ashes. How true.

5

Neil 01.07.11 at 12:59 pm

Your anonymous Australian is fooling himself (or trying to fool you). The Ashes is the only thing that matters in test cricket now for Aussies. Maybe he has a right to, though, given the number of people who responded to the long period of Aussie domination by saying that only football matters (of course, it is true for many English people that football matters much much more than cricket, but the people I have in mind had a sudden conversion in 2006.

6

chris y 01.07.11 at 1:23 pm

given the number of people who responded to the long period of Aussie domination by saying that only football matters

Yes, but for most if not all of that period, England were crap at football too and everybody knew it. Australia’s recent dominance at cricket has been extraordinary, and any Aussie who now turns round and says the Ashes don’t matter is open to having his record checked. But they won’t fall as far or as fast as the W.Indies, because they don’t have the structural problems and because, frankly, they still have a bunch of world class players and that isn’t going to change any time soon. I would put money on them winning the next home series fairly comfortably.

7

a.y.mous 01.07.11 at 1:44 pm

Huh! Chris? Australia went from #1 in 2009 to #5 in 2011, 126 points to 107 points. Two years, down 4. Windies took 4 years slide down.

8

JRoth 01.07.11 at 2:07 pm

Sour grapes or no, it’s worth noting here the charming way in which hockey fans almost do get to take the Stanley Cup home – the Cup spends the summer being toted around by players from the winning teams, and since hockey players are (by income and by custom) much closer to their fans than other world class athletes, it’s quite common for an ordinary fan to end up in a bar with the Cup (although I doubt many get to sip from it).

Famously, when the NY Rangers won the Cup after a 54 year drought (half of those years competing in a 6 team league), it was so dinged up from attending parties that the Hockey Hall of Fame had to completely refurbish it.

9

praisegod barebones 01.07.11 at 2:10 pm

. ʇsǝ┴ pɹƐ ǝɥʇ uı ʇɐǝɟǝp ɥsılƃuƎ ǝɥʇ ɟo ǝlɐɔs ǝɥʇ uǝʌıƃ ‘ʇıq ɐ ʇı ƃuıʇɐʇsɹǝʌo ǝq oʇ sɯǝǝs ,ɥsıɯǝlq ʇnoɥʇıʍ ʇsoɯlɐ, ʇnq ;uɐɯɥsılƃuƎ ǝʇɐıɹʇɐdxǝ ʇxǝu ǝɥʇ sɐ sıɥʇ ʎq pǝsɐǝld sɐ ɯ,I

10

BenSix 01.07.11 at 2:22 pm

One Australian I was drinking with last night claimed that the Ashes never meant much to them, because they could never take the urn home.

That’s like the hilarious case made in The Age

As magnificent a role as England the nation has played in making Australia the successful country it is, the Old Country no longer holds a central place in the Australian imagination.

Why does this remind me of the poor, crumpled Casanova who realises that he never liked a girl after she dumps him?

11

salazar 01.07.11 at 3:02 pm

“Why does this remind me of the poor, crumpled Casanova who realises that he never liked a girl after she dumps him?”

Well, I remember one Australian telling me many years ago his compatriots often feel culturally closer to the U.S. than to the U.K since the end of World War II.

12

Bryn Davies 01.07.11 at 3:38 pm

Australian culture might look initially as if it is closer to the US than the UK. But you don’t need to be there for long before you realise it has much more in common with Solihull than Syracuse. Forget the spiders and the bits where almost nobody lives. Most Australians live in suburbs that are inter-changeable with those in the UK; they just have more sun.

13

Anand Manikutty 01.07.11 at 4:28 pm

I might point out that “The Ashes” are not kept by the winning team in the series, unlike other trophies such as, say, the Border-Gavaskar Trophy which is kept by the winning team, and is currently with the rightful owners, viz., India. But you already knew that.

I think it is fair to say that the Australian cricket team has, in recent years, been really pushing the line in terms of hard-nosed, aggressive on-field behavior to the point where it could be considered unprofessional. There are few tears being shed for the Australian cricket team today outside of Australia.

14

Neil Levy 01.07.11 at 4:34 pm

Bryn, Aussie suburbs look and feel nothing like English suburbs. Semi-detached houses are not a lot like the Aussie house on its quarter acre block. The nearest pub is not around the corner in Australia; it is probably 3 miles away. The houses are built in the past 30 years, not the past 150. Few people walk. And so on.

15

roac 01.07.11 at 4:55 pm

Clueless Yank asks: Why was the stadium ground full of England fans supporters? Why did they get in free?

(“World Cup Fever,” by Eric Bogle, may be germane. Is that the greatest song about soccer football ever, or are there better ones?)

16

Neil Levy 01.07.11 at 4:58 pm

Roac, they got in free the usual way. People are admitted free just in case they have paid for a ticket.

17

a.y. mous 01.07.11 at 6:17 pm

This uniquely English, as in the Queen’s tongue, reaction, is very unsavoury. Series decider. Three innings. Three centuries each. Thirty wickets. Versus three innings defeats? Please! That is not gentlemanly. This year’s Ashes did not hold a candle to the India – South Africa series. Just did not. Yes. England beat Australia. Just not good enough, though.

18

Philip 01.07.11 at 6:27 pm

roac, there were Australian fans in on day 1 as the game went on it became clear that England were going to win the mat and therefore the series, though they had already retained the ashes. I guess the Australian fans didn’t want to pay to watch their team lose, and England celebrate, again. It was only free on the last day because there was very little cricket left to be played as Australia were lots of runs behind with only three wickets left.

19

Philip 01.07.11 at 7:21 pm

a.y. mous, I’m not sure what point you are trying to make but no-one has said that this Ashes series was better than the series in South Africa, that was a closely fought contest between the top two ranked teams in the world.

20

a.y. mous 01.07.11 at 7:38 pm

Philip, you must be new here. I, a.y. mous, am have been assigned the brown man’s burden. That’s my calling. Anytime the white man gets happy and proud, I am obliged to smite him with reality to wash that grin off his face, in an effort to civilise him. In their ignorance they call me a troll. I indulge those loveable delinquents. But with a firm keyboard. As an astute cricket connoisseur, you have peeked at the truth. That truth has to now be suffused into the English-speakers. Two top ranked teams. Not England. Not Australia. A bitter pill. But for good health. Cheers!

21

roac 01.07.11 at 7:38 pm

Ah. I see. Thank you. (I do know enough about the game that I should have figured it out.)

22

a.y. mous 01.07.11 at 7:56 pm

The ACB is a business concern. So is the ECB. Let us see what this test series throws up in the Indian Bazaar a month from now. Good moolah is as stake. Beer is a find. Clarke, Hussey, Hilfenhaus, Haddin, Johnson already are on the ramp to be bought. All are to be underbid. Pieterson led the auctions last time. Let us see how much Rupees Collingwood, Bresnon, Prior and Cook are over bid over the Aussies.

23

Philip 01.07.11 at 8:15 pm

I’m not a cricket connoisseur, more interested football and rugby union. I was born in the 80s and the Windies were the best team in the world the it was Australia. England have been pretty poor for most of my lifetime and I’m surprised we now seem quite good. Yeah gloating over this win is more about the past than the future, the tests against India and Sri Lanka will show how good England actually are.

24

Anand Manikutty 01.07.11 at 9:07 pm

One of the more interesting things I have been reading about Australian cricket is that the cricketers reportedly don’t use (as much?) sledging when playing in the Indian Premier League. Matthew Hayden (who has played in the IPL before and wants to play again in the future reportedly) actually admitted that one of his remarks directed at Harbhajan Singh were “insensitive”. Furthermore, he was reportedly “saddened” that he was disciplined by Cricket Australia for his action. Touching. But it sounds like he was trying his best to protect his wallet as professionals of any calling are inclined to do (as I argue in the linked post).

George Orwell called sport “war minus the shooting”. That is true only up to a point. Insofar as observable on-field behavior is concerned, he was quite mistaken. Sportsmen use abusive and offensive language only if the incentives are not appropriately structured.

25

ejh 01.07.11 at 9:15 pm

A number of years ago there was a very strong current in English cricket commentary – Mike Atherton was a particular offender – devoted to attacking the County system as leading irretrievably to low standards, compared to the Australian system which supposedly did the opposite. (The not-at-all- hidden agenda here was to cut down hugely on the number of professional teams in English cricket, a story with which we’re very familiar from other sports.)

I’ve not heard Athers on this subject recently. I think I’d rather like to.

26

The best 01.07.11 at 9:44 pm

The best thing about it was Ian Botham suggesting that perhaps England should propose shortening the series to 3 tests, given the poor quality of the opposition. (This is what some Australians suggested after the last series in Australia.) He really does seem like a bit of a pig-headed git all in all, but I appreciated that one.

27

nick s 01.07.11 at 10:17 pm

Just like the great West Indies team of the seventies and early eighties, the Australians ran out of world class players.

Had there been workable cryogenics, the Aussies could have frozen half a dozen of their second XI players and revived them a couple of years ago: plenty of fringe players back then would have walked into any other Test side.

28

PHB 01.07.11 at 11:54 pm

@nick 27

Yes, but how could they have possibly have known they would need them?

What if the game had become even more competitive and the 2nd IX-ers came out of the deep freeze to find that they couldn’t even keep their place in the second squad?

29

Zebbidie 01.08.11 at 4:01 am

A smashing result from England – the Australians were nowhere near good enough.

But the truth is that winning at 2020 or limited over is much more important to the players and the boards. Sadly the Ashes are becoming less important for the players, even if the supporters feel the loss Keenly. So the Aussie was not totallywrong, though to be honest, I would have been tweaking your nose if we’d won the way your lot did.

30

derrida derider 01.08.11 at 4:14 am

That claim that the Aussies no longer care about the Ashes is indeed sour grapes – the truth is that we are all in mourning over it (those of us, that is, who are not preparing some salutary lynchings).

It’s still the Ashes – as the oldest grudge match in world sport, it’s something to be pasioanate about even when, as now, one or both sides are a long way short of being the best team in the world. Rangers vs Celtic games lose none of their intensity just because there are better soccer teams than either. The India vs Sth Africa matches may have been of a much higher playing standard, but I’d still rather watch an Ashes series – and not just because I’m Australian.

And sorry Anand but the stuff about “sledging”, etc coming out of the subcontinent is mostly hypocritical rubbish. In particular, that infamous Fifth Test in Sydney was very much infamous for the behaviour of the Indians, not the Australians.

BTW, on Orwell’s bit about sport being “war minus the shooting” – you say it like it’s a bad thing. Wouldn’t you far rather our natural tribalism be expressed on the playing field than the battlefield?

31

Nine 01.08.11 at 5:19 am

” the Old Country no longer holds a central place in the Australian imagination.”

I’m not sure that sentiment is mere sour grapes where cricket is concerned. Many aussie cricketers & sports writers have spoken of India- Oz as the rivalry of the future & they were saying this well before Oz’s precipitous decline. IIRC, India/OZ fixtures of the recent past have been ah …. intense.

32

Anand Manikutty 01.08.11 at 8:37 am

> And sorry Anand but the stuff about “sledging”, etc coming out of the subcontinent
> is mostly hypocritical rubbish. In particular, that infamous Fifth Test in Sydney
> was very much infamous for the behaviour of the Indians, not the Australians.
>
> BTW, on Orwell’s bit about sport being “war minus the shooting” – you say it like
> it’s a bad thing. Wouldn’t you far rather our natural tribalism be expressed on
> the playing field than the battlefield?

If you had read the argument I linked to, you would see that this is me speaking from the perspective of marketing the sport of cricket and from the organizational economics of the sport. I am not arguing that the Australian cricket team is any better or any worse than any one else. It simply makes for better marketing when fans show up at a stadium and don’t have the players they are paying to watch use racial and other epithets at each other. How would you feel if the player you are paying to watch was saying something directed at your race? And how is it hypocritical when I am only arguing that sledging is not good for marketing the sport? In fact, if you read my post carefully, you will note that I am making no value judgement on Australians as such, but rather on the organizational culture of the Australian cricket team, which is an organization that happens to be from Australia.

My argument is simple : if your boss tells you to behave and you don’t, you might get fired, and so when faced with this choice, people, with their own self-interest in mind, (this is not directed at anyone) will tend to behave a lot better when organizations impose a strict code of conduct. I will go ahead and make the bold prediction that if the BCCI wanted, they could simply put an end to sledging within the Indian Premier League by imposing strict punishment. The point with quoting Orwell is to say that while an organization’s culture may be path dependent, it is shaped as much by incentives as anything else.

33

BlaiseP 01.08.11 at 2:03 pm

Since the advent of 20/20 and the ODI, the punters have seemingly taken over the game. Test cricket remains the arbiter of greatness, and there’s no shame in losing to the best. The first test was a squeaker, but the third test showed the Australia side were capable and effective.

I am impressed by the young Australians: it’s repulsive to see the horrid treatment of younger players such as Phil Hughes and Usman Khawaja in the Oz press. The world is sure to see more of then in future and Australia should be glad to have them.

34

Neil Levy 01.08.11 at 4:33 pm

“there’s no shame in losing to the best”.

Yes, but there is shame in losing very badly to the fourth best.

35

cricinfo 01.08.11 at 5:18 pm

36

Tom 01.08.11 at 7:52 pm

Phillip @23

“I’m not a cricket connoisseur”

So why bother with a post so mind numingly dull, uninformative and pointless?

a.y. mous @ 22

Why are you trying to equate Test cricket ability with IPL prices? There’s almost zero correlation. The prices paid by the IPL are an amalgam of lots of things, of which cricket ability is only a small part – see today’s prices and those players left on the shelf for proof.

Also, on what basis do you think Michael Beer is “a find?” Sure, he floats the ball nicely, but he just lets it go, there’s no real spin at all. He’s better than X Doherty, but certainly nowhere neaer as good as Haurtiz.

Zebedee @29

“winning at 2020 or limited over is much more important to the players”

This doesn’t make sense. Last Ashes England lost 5-0 in the Tests and won the one day series, yet I don’t remember the players talking about a successful tour. Paul Collingwood captained England to victory in the World 20:20 final this year, and yet winning the Ashes in Australia was, in his words, the pinnacle of his career.

The crowds at the games were generally high, I’d reckon about 750k bums on seats for the series, if not more. Unlike the IPL these will be seats sold at premium prices, not given away or sold for a rupee.

37

des von bladet 01.08.11 at 8:05 pm

ejh: Atherton has an easy way out, should he want it: everyone else I’ve heard express an opinion has said that county cricket has become a lot better (in the top division) since the two-division system was introduced.

And it is also claimed or alleged that the improved pay in the Shield has lead to modest players outlingering their likely usefulness, in contrast to the old days when international rejects would shuffle off to real jobs in their early twenties to make way for the promises of youth.

But I am bitter enough to remember that 2005’s English Pace Quartet was hailed as the good times that had been just around the corner all my life and how the rationalisations were swiftly adjusted when they weren’t, so I’m willing to wait and see.

Meanwhile, if India’s administrators had deigned to grant their team a warm-up match we would surely have a clearer idea of how things stood at the top of the rankings, and I would certainly like to see a.y.mous explain how that was actually my fault all along?

38

R. Fullinwider 01.08.11 at 8:06 pm

Revelations: 666 is the sign of the Beast; half of 666 is 333; the first part of 333 is 3; and 3 is the number of abject thrashings the Australian suffered at the hands of the English. The End Times are near.

39

Philip 01.08.11 at 8:45 pm

Tom, I was just responding to a.y. mous’s claim that the two top ranked teams not being Australia and England is a bitter pill to swallow, it really isn’t. Sorry if I didn’t do it an entertaining enough way for you.

40

ejh 01.09.11 at 8:50 am

But I am bitter enough to remember that 2005’s English Pace Quartet was hailed as the good times that had been just around the corner all my life and how the rationalisations were swiftly adjusted when they weren’t, so I’m willing to wait and see.

To be fair, they might have been: but Jones got injured. (If my memory serves he missed the Fifth Test, which is why Collingwood played, and never played Test cricket again.) The 2005 side was undoubtedly the best English bowling attack of my lifetime, anyway, even with Giles in it.

I don’t quite know why they unravelled, particularly because they’d been a good side for two or three years before the 2005 Ashes. Obviously Harmison all but disintegrated, and the Adelaide match gets mentioned a lot, but I’ve always pointed to a Test in Multan in the winter 0f 2005/6, where England were chasing 200 or less in the fourth innings and lost, with even players out sweeping. For some reason that struck me as a loss of nerve which seemed to have a decisive effect.

I’d want convincing that the 2010/11 side was as good as the 2005 version, even though the latter had three seriously underperforming players – Giles, with the ball, and Bell (who shouldn’t have played) and Jones with the bat. Perhaps that’s actually among the secrets of their success, that there’s been fewer passengers? Not everybody’s performed to their peak but only Collingwood seems consistently to have failed.

Watch out in a couple of years’ time for Cook’s batting average heading south after he becomes captain. A lot of people remember the Yorkshireman mainly as a fine captain and have forgotten how good a batsman he was beforehand. (Three big hundreds in a losing Ashes series away from home. That’s a marker.)

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