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Samizdata, derived from Samizdat /n. - a system of clandestine publication of banned literature in the USSR [Russ.,= self-publishing house]

False hopes

Samizdata, despite Antoine’s admonitions, has been getting very depressed and depressing lately, so time for some more sports news. It’s only a game, it doesn’t matter, no dead bodies or territory changing hands, good way to let off fascist steam, blah blah blah.

Too bad the English news isn’t that good there either. Oh well.

Anyway, cricket. (That’s the one of which an American once said to Brit interviewer and sports journo Michael Parkinson: “And they do all that on horseback?”) I wish I’d told you earlier in the year what I thought of the England batting, which is that it is a collective Graham Hick. Graham Hick was the Zimbabwean who never quite did as well as he should have as an England batsman, and who got lumbered with the soubriquet of “flat track bully”, that is, good against bad bowling, but bad against good bowling. During the last couple of years, England have been racking up big scores against second-rate test bowling attacks, with very few flops, and it was being said that this time, this time, the Ashes series in Australian this winter just might be different. I thought then that this was folly. How you murder second-raters says very little about how you’ll fare against the likes of McGrath, Gillespie and Warne.

As Warne said before the first test in Brisbane, England will hold their own if they are at their absolute best, but if they slip up Australia will be all over them and they’ll crumple. Too right mate. England had one good day at Brisbane, but in the end were humiliated. And now at Adelaide they started with a good batting day and duly held their own, but then they had two bad days and are heading for another crushing defeat.

I saw this coming half a year ago. I did. But how can I prove it? I can’t. I said it to Antoine, I think, but will he back me? Antoine? I doubt it. Maybe I imagined that I even said it.

So? What of it? Well, I can now see another disappointment being cobbled together by over-optimistic English sports commentators. England have just defeated New Zealand, Australia and now this afternoon South Africa at rugby, all at Twickenham (which incidentally is the town-stroke-suburb where Patrick Crozier lives), the English national stadium. The first two they only just squeaked past by the narrowest of margins. South Africa they did slaughter, but the South Africans played for an hour with only fourteen men. All three visiting teams were manifestly using these more than somewhat insignificant fixtures to test new men and new moves and new combinations. But never mind all that. Hurrah!! England are going to win the World Cup!!

I don’t believe a word of it. England always peak between World Cups. And someone in the Southern Hemisphere, usually Australia, peaks at the World Cup. France play badly but not badly enough in the early games, then play one dazzling game, then get knocked out, and a Southern Hemisphere team wins it. England always contrive to look tired at the World Cup, presumably because they always are tired. All that peaking when it doesn’t matter takes it out of you, I guess.

You read it here first.

I guess I’ll have to cheer myself up with some more politics.

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