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Sight Screen

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

The tandoori Ashes?

'ashes' lower case, what's more? Tanya Aldred in The Guardian, on the Indo-Pak series.
For years the rest of the cricket world pretended to be bewitched by our beloved Ashes contests and their cultural references to shared soap operas, the weather, convict jokes well into their third century and Richie Benaud, allegedly still in his first. But times they have a-changed. Now India and Pakistan can admit to finding their own contests just that little bit more thrilling than ours, stoked up as they are with the blood of partition, Kashmir, the oscillating threat of nuclear war, the curiosity of the closest of neighbours and the odd pelting with stones of a captain who finishes up on the losing side. And tomorrow it all kicks off again in Lahore - the passion, the madness, the cricket - for the first of three Tests followed by five one-day internationals.

Also, this:
There is plenty of spice on and off the pitch. The ongoing Sourav Ganguly affair for starters (the former captain was dropped against Sri Lanka but then included in the touring squad for Pakistan after parliament debated the issue and effigies were burnt of India's coach Greg Chappell in West Bengal).
Also look out for . . . The re-emergence of the lacquered locks of the Rawalpindi Narcissus Express Shoaib Akhtar. The stamina of Sachin Tendulkar - will he still have the hunger after overtaking Sunil Gavaskar's record of 34 Test centuries? The growing stature of Inzamam-ul-Haq as captain and his alleged coming together with exercise. The rivalry between two foreign coaches - Bob Woolmer, who took over as Pakistan coach in June 2004 inheriting what he called the most unfit side he had ever come across, and Chappell, who became coach of India last May and amid torments of leaked memos ended up giving the media the finger from the team bus. There is even a row about Indian broadcasting rights that would make the ECB feel at home - Dordarshan, the state-owned channel, will not show live footage of the series but 90 minutes of each day's highlights, much to the delight of the bosses, who might now actually see some of their staff turn up for work.


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