It seems that the England cricket team’s dressing room is not a happy place to be at the moment. There’s a lot of guys hurting in that dressing room, said player after player before, during and after the latest Ashes debacle. So much hurt and pain being felt, it must be terrible. Imagine a field hospital in the Crimean War packed with groaning casualties, but with a plentiful supply of energy drinks.
The Australians have hit England hard and often. It began before the squad even touched down, with merciless sledging by the Qantas cabin crew followed by a dull selection of inflight movies. Not even an 84 page dietary guide prepared by the backroom staff of, coincidentally, 84, was enough to equip the team to prevent phase two, kicking their arses on the field of play. First the batting then the bowling then the fielding was ruthlessly dismantled. With the series in the bag, the Aussies are now expected to have a go at the coaching staff, the PR guy, the bloke who puts out the cones and even the bus driver, who by the end of the 5th Test will be so lacking in confidence, he can’t get out of the car park.
It’s all gone hopelessly wrong. Swann, all round cheeky chappy and already talked of as a future team captain on every sports-based comedy show, found his usually reliable quips smacked into the stands by Australian batsmen who resolutely refused to find them funny. Meanwhile KP was outsmarted by cunning field placings that placed 3 men in his favourite scoring area for lofted Hollywood shots. But that’s the way KP plays – see ball, hit ball, hit ball down fielder’s throat. How after a mere 100 Tests is he expected to counter such a fiendishly clever strategy, except by maybe hitting the ball somewhere else?
Then there’s the sledging. Both sides do it, but it always sounds more threatening when delivered in an Australian accent. Somehow you can’t imagine Monty scaring opposition batsmen by threatening to piddle on them from a balcony. The quivering English players copped it from all sides. After Clarke warned Anderson to expect a broken arm if he stuck around, various ex players agreed that he had overstepped the mark. But not crossed the line. Obviously the line is somewhere different to the mark? In fact whilst the mark has been overstepped on other occasions too, so far the line remains uncrossed, even by Warner – who looks and sounds like Shane Warne’s idiot nephew, and seems to be on a mission to provoke the first punch up in Test history.
Where do we go from here? Is time up for Jimmy and Swanny? Can Cooky and Broady recapture their form? Do we need to find a fresh crop of players with better nicknames? Is growing a comedy tache the missing ingredient, and if so can we muster enough top lip decoration to be able to compete by the time it all kicks off again on Boxing Day?
Please make it stop