Category Archives: Andrew Flintoff

Where’s The Ashes Spirit?

The Australians began their Ashes summer very quietly a few weeks ago, when they slipped into England as if they were a pack of smugglers in the kangaroo meat trade. The stealth cover has only increased after their spectacular exit from the Twenty20 World Cup (where the hell is Leicester anyway, and why are the Australians practising there), but I have to ask: should anyone care about the 2009 Ashes?

The query comes because a few observers have noted of late how muted the whole thing seems. Take Justin Langer, who contrasted this year with the 2005 atmosphere:

“I suppose my recollection of last time is especially vivid, because I arrived on the day of the London bombings,” Langer told Cricinfo. “I got into Heathrow at 7am, and within a few hours the bombs had gone off. It was an eerie feeling. The entire city felt like a ghost town. But well before that, the guys who arrived for the one-dayers (which preceded the Tests), said it was fever pitch from the moment they stepped off the plane. I’m not quite sure what the reasons are, but this time it seems much more low-key.”

Over at the Corridor, Will sees the same things; Continue reading

The Drama of a Batting Collapse

Is there anything better to watch? Alex Massie captures the sentiment:

All sports are on good terms with humiliation, of course, but there’s an extra-special comic quality to cricketing collapses that makes them much more galling, yet engrossing, than calamitous mishaps in rugby or football or other sports. It’s the sense one gets of a virus being passed from one batsman to his successor who proves equally susceptible.

While definitely mysterious, the batting collapse is also a sure sign of a team’s weakness and lack of confidence. You can’t really imagine Australia suffering the same fate, and until recently, you would have expected it of India (see “World Cup, 1996, semi-final,” or “Fourth innings, Fifth day, Any Test”). Continue reading

Tagged , , , ,

The England Batting Collapse

In case you missed it — or want to watch it over and over again — England’s shambolic performance is available on YouTube, at http://www.youtube.com/user/powen001.

This has my favorite wicket, the late-outswinging-yorker that cartwheeled Pietersen’s off-stump:

Tagged , , ,

Kevin Pietersen, Defeated

Have a look at the interview he gave to Sky News after he “resigned” his captaincy. It’s clear now that the whole problem arose when someone leaked his diagnosis that English cricket could not “move” forward with Peter Moores as coach. There’s an interesting moment here when the interviewer asks — for the third time, I think — whether Pietersen feels disappointed that “we” let you down. Pietersen replies — and rightly, I think  — that there’s no “we” and him, since he is English, and part of the ‘we.’

Which brings up a bigger point: Continue reading

England Sees Some Light

Finally, some sense from England:it removes Matt Prior from the top, since he hasn’t worked out consistently and isn’t good enough to be at the top (it reminds me of when India tried Nayan Mongia at the top, which was also dropped after a few matches). It then promotes Kevin Pietersen to No. 3, which is where he has belonged since he began in ODIs. The previous order made no sense whatsoever: why would you take O. Shah away from the lower-order, where he is more likely to consolidate? Geoffrey Boycott had it just right: Pietersen-Collingwood-Flintoff makes for an intimidating line-up, up there with the best in the world. 

There are some other problems: Continue reading

Flintoff’s (Second) Greatest Over

Edgbaston may be the place that buried Michael Vaughan, but it was also the setting that brought Andrew Flintoff back from the dead.

Facing a resurgent South Africa, which at this point was only 30 behind England’s 1st innings, Flintoff returned to “drag England back to the match,” as Mark Nichols put it. This is the over that removed Jacques Kallis. And this is what the IPL just cannot deliver. Enjoy.

Did Flintoff Just Admit To Cheating?

I’ve long had a deep affection for Andrew Flintoff, who takes turns being a romantic Australia-slayer and an affectionately flawed drunkard. For all his epic feats, he still resonates as a human figure, struggling to break from the pack. He took years to actually pull away and dominate batting line-ups, and since the Ashes, when he finally did, his personality’s complex strands — the fragility of his physical capabilities; his drinking habits; his immeasurable raw talent — have twisted even more. Like I said, it’s fairly compelling stuff.

His free-ranging interview about his recuperation, then, makes for a gripping read, especially when Flintoff admits, I think, to chucking, so as to compensate for that devilish ankle:

“Also in my thinking was the possibility that I just might not get another chance to take part in this kind of tournament again. In the event I was pretty much bowling on one leg, relying on my shoulder and maybe even a bent arm at times and the realisation grew in me that, if this was as good as it was going to get, it wasn’t enough.”

A bent arm? Is it wrong that I feel even more defensive about Flintoff than before? 

Tagged , ,

No Early Release For Katich

I agree with Uncle J Rod — Simon Katich, no matter what he just did in the Pura Cup, has not paid the price for his abject failure in 2005. Hell, forget that: he still has to answer just for this:

Crying for England

I found myself writing yet another pseudo-intellectual piece on masculinity in cricket, when I thought I should take a step back. Maybe it’s the approaching dawn, or the awfully saccharine John Mayer song playing in the background on repeat, but this blog has missed some personal, out-and-out emotion of late, and that won’t do. I’m Indian, after all, and this is a cricket blog: a little irrationality should be expected.

Well, I’ve been reading up on England’s performance against New Zealand, and it’s so tragic. Continue reading

Macho, Macho Men: Australians Reveal Their Masculine Side

The sun never set on the British Empire, but the same cannot be said of the cricketing world, its chief colonial legacy (apart from, you know, the rule of law and all that). Already a fairly small coterie of 10 or 11 countries (depending on Zimbabwe’s mood), it doesn’t help that several members suffer from regular terror attacks and general instability, including Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and even mother country, England.

It’s a sad state of affairs — so much for cricket’s civilizing mission — because international cricketers must regularly choose on the one hand between their safety and political ideas (especially with regards to Robert Mugabe) and playing the sport that they’re paid for on the other.

But while I don’t want to burden cricket with any more political baggage than it already has, Andrew Symonds has forced my hand. Although many on the Australian team have expressed reluctance to tour Pakistan in its current state, Symonds has been the most outspoken, joking last year about the number of bombs that form a part of daily life in that country. Even if the tour itinerary is shortened; even if security is beefed up; Symonds says he doesn’t want to go. Full Stop.

Obviously, I don’t wish harm on anybody, least of all cricketers, but Symonds — and the Australian team in general — cannot walk out of this corner without at least admitting to hypocrisy and, at the most, cowardice (Yeah! I’m calling ’em yella’, you hear!). Continue reading