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Sight Screen

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

The Urn - Telegraph

1. Sometimes, cricket writers run into a problem: A series turns out to be so gripping, you pretty much exhaust the thesaurus by the halfway stage, then struggle to top superlatives for the second half. It is a problem English cricket writers are now facing -- if you notice, the copy, so full of fire and fury at the start, when England gave the first indications that this series might not go per script, is increasingly tame, tired. Sue Mott, here, evens things out a bit with a piece on the roller coaster ride thus far, and why she doesn't want it to end.
Cricket, wonderful, glorious, nerve-racking cricket, has truly come of age. Demanding of intellect and redolent of theatre, this Ashes series has provided the most riveting sporting spectacle of the new century. Add to that the best loved, most charismatic villain since Darth Vader in Aussie spin bowler Shane Warne and you have the ingredients that have left us all drained and spellbound simultaneously.
At its best, as this has been, cricket seems to combine the work of Hollywood scriptwriters and Shakespearean actors. All that we needed to make Sunday night's denouement more desperate was the injured Simon Jones to score the winning run by limping the length of the wicket. Mercifully, the hopalong tailender was not called upon but the rest was quite terrifyingly thrilling enough.

2. Chloe Saltau sees the state of the Ashes series from the vantage point of the man who brought it home to Australia -- Allan Border.
3. Derek Pringle can't -- if you judge by the exuberance of his own inebriation -- seem to know quite what to make of it all. And who can blame the bloke? When the world order changes -- as it seems to be here -- it's the historian, not the journalist, who might manage in time to make sense of it all. Meanwhile, you are left with a breathless string of questions:
Are Michael Vaughan's team the new Australia? Are Australia the old England?
Is Freddie Flintoff the new Ian Botham? Is cricket the new football? All have been floated as people seek context for the rush of hyperbole cricket is attracting. Now there is another. Is England's fast-bowling quartet the equivalent of the West Indies of the 1980s, a period in which their dominance was absolute?

4. Simon Hughes has his own take on why Australia is facing the end of its seemingly endless reign -- arrogance.
Now they are under siege, as they perceive it: from England, the press, the public, the umpires, the match referees. Everyone and everything is against them, even the Almighty (injuries, losing crucial tosses) and, with the exception of one or two, not-ably Shane Warne and Brett Lee, they don't know how to respond.
They don't know how to respond because they didn't remotely expect it. As this series has unfolded, it has become abundantly clear that they totally underestimated their opponents. They arrived with a Plan A, to batter the bowlers and suffocate the batsmen to death, and that was it. There was no contingency for potential hurdles, no Plan B.

5. The race to get Simon Jones fit for the final showdown is taking on the contours of a Michael Crichton sci-fi thriller, you think?


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