Friday, 28 August 2015

Column 29, 2015 – Alternate thrashings

Printed in The Cricket Paper, issue 132, Friday August 28, 2015.
[Full text below]

It’s an odd situation to find yourself in, that of suddenly winning.

Not just winning either, but really convincingly being the ones doing the thrashing, rather than the ones being thrashed.

This Ashes series has been most bizarre. Surely the most one sided 3-2 scoreline ever. This was far more one sided than either of England’s 5-0 down-under drubbings in the last decade. It’s just that it wasn’t always the same side being drubbed.

After Trent Bridge I touched on that curious suspended limbo a team experiences when staring down the barrel of an almost certain heavy defeat, and how that detached air of inevitability robs the game of drama.

It’s extraordinary to have had that for all five matches in a series. Five Tests between England and Australia, the conclusion of each not in doubt from early in the piece, and played out with a total absence of tension.

In club cricket, such roller-coaster inconsistency is normal. Weekend warriors with more important things to worry about all week than where their off stump is, can expect to swing wildly between competence and ineptitude.

But when the very best in the world meet to battle it out in five games over five days (A five day Test match! Can you imagine such a thing?!) such reckless profligacy is as disappointing as it is baffling.

Don’t get me wrong, it’s great that England won. But it’s hardly as much fun as a proper, competitive, knife edge, can’t-call-it-till-the-death game of cricket, is it?

As you may have gleaned, Damerham have been on the receiving end of our share of heavy defeats of late, to the extent that, with just two games to go, we found ourselves flirting with relegation.

Last week we self-destructed from 100-2 to 120 all out. This week, in our own tribute to this Ashes of ferocious contrasts, we bowled the opposition out for 66 then knocked off the runs without loss before tea, for a most emphatic maximum-point win. We were done by 4.30, in the pub by five (five!).

Recently I talked about the ritual dissection after the game: who did what, the turning points, the successes and failures. Well, we’ve never really had occasion to find out before, but it turns out that winning that comprehensively leaves a lot less to talk about. There weren’t exactly any awkward silences, but once you’ve got over the initial novelty of being in the pub by five, (five!) it turns out there’s just less to say. “So. We did pretty well and they did pretty badly, eh? Mmm.”

Again, don’t get me wrong. It’s wonderful to be a thrasher rather than a thrashee for once, and I’m delighted we catapulted ourselves away from the relegation zone with such unaccustomed panache. But it’s hardly as much fun as a proper, competitive, knife edge, can’t-call-it-till-the-death game of cricket, is it?

There’s just no pleasing some people.

- ends 485 words -

No comments:

Post a Comment