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Watching the Ashes

I am watching that supreme embodiment of the Anglosphere culture at the moment – cricket, surely the finest game invented by Man. England are building on their first-innings batting performance against a rather shaky-looking Australia, although the Aussies have a chance to draw the match I think thanks to a superb batting effort by Shane Warne. Warne is normally and rightly famed for his leg spin, able to make the ball move in a bewitching fashion.

The Ashes series, as the England vs Australia Test matches are known, are currently shown on the Channel 4 terrestrial tv channel. The channel has made a huge success of its cricket coverage, I think. Its commenators are excellent, intelligent and don’t interrupt the flow of play. Even the adverts shown during a brief pause in play don’t irritate me like I thought they would. Simon Hughes, a true cricket geek, does a fine job of explaining key terms and tactics to novices. Cricket is a complex game and yet the presenters seem to make it accessible without dumbing it down.

Four of us Samizdata scribblers are split down the middle on this Ashes series, I guess. Two Aussies – Scott Wickstein and Michael Jennings – pitted against Brian Micklethwait and yours truly.

Update, despite the so-far snarky remarks in the comments sections, my joy continues to rise thanks to today’s batting performance. Summary of the game here.

16 comments to Watching the Ashes

  • Chris Harper


  • Michael Farris

    The secret of cricket is that it doesn’t exist. It’s just a bunch of jargon that those in the know can toss around to make it sound like they’re comfortable talking about this really complicated “game”. Those who aren’t in on the joke are mostly too embarassed to say anything and assume there really are things like test matches, wickets, leg spin, blah, blah, blah. To keep up appearances, people will stand around for hours and days pretending to play this made up nonsense (getting on with the real business of drinking beer and telling dirty jokes when they think no one is watching, which is most of the time.
    I feel exactly the same thing is true of bridge as well, except that bridge “players” probably drink gin and tonic instead of beer.

  • nick

    Just like religion then? 😎 See you for worship 1030 am GMT – go Aussies!!!

  • dearieme

    Without being in the least anti-American, one might ponder the huge gulf between the admirable TV coverage of cricket, and the feeble dross that is TV coverage of baseball.

  • I am a true believer – sod all you cricket atheists – and I have been watching the final day’s proceediongs.

    There has just been a truly horrible LBW decision given against one of the best Aussie batters, Damien Martyn. who was playing very solidly. The commentators, Boycott in particular, having proved immediately that the verdict was horrifically wrong, then immediately opined that it really is time the umpires had the same -techno-toys that the commentators have.

    How true. As it was, not only did every TV viewer such as I know within seconds that it was definitely not out, but so did everyone in the ground. They were all shown it on a giant TV screen! This verdict could be the difference between a gutsy draw and a nasty-taste-in-the-mouth England win.

    Not a day – not one day – has gone by in this series when there has not been at least one, and often several, umpiring verdicts which would definitely have been different if the umpires had technology to help them. As it is they are less well informed than everyone on earth watching the game on TV. It is a ridiculous situation and it has to stop.

  • On the other hand, Damien Martyn maybe should have been out, caught behind off Jones’s first ball. The snickometer clearly demonstrated that there was a click sound. But no England player appealed!

    Not that Martyn would necessarily been given out if they had appealed, the way he should have been. But that does provide evidence for the swings-and-roundabouts keep-the-game-moving argument.

    Katich caught in the slips off Flintoff! 165-4 with many hours for Australia to survive yet.

    Somehow, I don’t think my mouth is actually going to taste very nasty, if England win.

  • England have once again bowled very well this evening from what I can see, and Australia’s batting, Ricky Ponting apart, have not been up to the challenge. 171 for 4 at drinks, and still a long long way to go.

    Rather odd about the not appealing, but cricket is like that!

  • Scott

    I think what this series illustrates is that batting when your bowlers are being outbowled by the opposition bowlers is a whole lot harder than batting when your bowlers are dominant, as Australia’s have been for so many years.

    Their bowlers could yet win this series for Australia, the way they won it at Lords, if McGrath gets fully back into the groove for the final two games, and if Australia can find someone half-decent to replace Gillespie, who has been dire in this series.

    I never believed all this stuff about greatest team ever, if by that was meant that every Australian has been a world-beater for the last decade. Australia has had one world class bowler, McGrath, and one All Time Greatest Ever, Warne, and plenty of capable batsmen.

    It is, in particular, a whole easier for a wicketkeeper-batsman to flog the opposition to all parts when batting, if your bowlers are world class and either have already got the opposition on the run, or can be relied on to ruin them if you give them half a chance.

    With Warne and McGrath in your side, both playing at their best, and two or three other decent bowlers, which until this series Australia have always had, being an Australian batsman has been a whole lot easier than being, e.g. an England batsman batting against Australia during the last decade.

    But now, look at what Strauss, Bell and even Jones were able to do yesterday for England.

    Hah! Gilchrist caught Bell bowled Flintoff 4. Australia 182-5.

    See what I mean?

  • JSAllison

    I’m still continuing my battle with espn to bring in at least ‘some’ cricket coverage. They periodically show highlights from sumo, for god’s sake. Doubt that a full test would be palatable but at least an occasional one day match…

  • Pete_London

    Ponting’s just got his century and a dodgy LBW decision against him right now certainly wouldn’t leave a nasty taste in my mouth. A draw’s looking likely although the new ball will be in out hands soon. Either way it’s been a bloody enjoyable summer so far.

  • Johnathan

    Superb piece of reverse swing by Jones to dismiss Clarke. God, this is almost unbearable.

  • Ted Schuerzinger

    JS Allison:

    I wouldn’t be surprised if the sumo wrestling on ESPN (assuming you’re in the States) is a “time-buy” — the organization that holds the event pays ESPN for the TV time, in exchange getting the rights to sell the advertising themselves, as well as use of ESPNs graphics to make it look like ESPN are responsible for it.

    Events as high-profile as women’s tennis (Indian Wells this year) have been time-buys. It’s one of the dirty little secrets behind why ESPN’s programming is so warped.

  • Michael Farris

    But Sumo totally rocks! I mean it, you have to watch a lot of it to realize what makes it interesting, but it’s one of the two coolest sports on tv (the other is, of course, curling).

  • Pah. Cricket is king, all others are pale imitations.

    And a DRAW???? after all that.

    What an excellent match. I only wish I could have seen it all, from the stands.

    The last Test match I saw was, unbelievably, in 1971, South Africa against Australia at the Wanderers in Johannesburg. After that, the sports boycott and emigration intervened to deprive me of one of life’s greatest pleasures.

    I hate you all. Lucky bastards.

  • uk05england05uk

    The 4th test is at Trent Bridge woot woot!
    I live in Nottingham so I may take some time off work and pop down to Trent Bridge and watch the mighty England pound the Aussies aswell as getting rat arsed. WE ARE THE best in the world and it will be proven…. come on ENGLAND!!!!

  • John K

    What an excellent match. I only wish I could have seen it all, from the stands.

    So do I Kim, but I was one of the 10,000 locked out on the final day. Still, that did give me the chance to spend the day watching the match on the telly in the pub, so all was not lost.

    I did feel a bit sorry for the three chaps dressed as schoolgirls who didn’t get in. Wonder what they got up to for the rest of the day?