Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Test matches and OBEs and Engerland. And South Africa.

The third Test starts tomorrow.

I know. I too am struggling to contain my excitement.

To mark this occasion, here is a post written by my esteemed friend Angus on his most excellent blog, which he has kindly let me re-post here.

It's about an incident back in 2005. Something happened back then, now what was it... oh yes, that's right.

We lost the Ashes.


I think I speak for all of us when I say that beating South Africa in sporting contests is one of Australia's three most solemn duties (the other two are beating New Zealand at Rugby Union, and preserving the memory of Gallipoli).

Beating England is not solemn - it's a raucous affair. But beating South Africa is important, it is crucial, and it is satisfying.

I was speaking to Miss Field a while ago - who has been keeping another blog hidden in plain sight - about why losing to South Africa in Australia was less painful than losing to England in 2005 (in England).

Here are my top reasons why losing to England in 2005 was so hard to take:

1) The series of coincidences that went England's way

2) Australia could not have played ANY worse, we were lacking our best fast bowler (we dominated the one Test he played), and we still only lost the series by two runs.

3) England's team was full of crap players who played much better than they ever had or ever would again to fluke wickets and runs.

4) They treated a marginal 2-1 series victory as if THEY HAD RE-WON WORLD WAR II.

5) The English players went back to being crap within 24 hours of the final Test.

But one of the hardest things to take was something Miss Field pointed out: that any time an Australian mentioned that perhaps the English were over-reacting by giving their players OBEs for winning two Test matches, we were accused of being sore losers.

Ashley Giles. Useless cricketer. OBE.

It was not a great time to be an Australian cricket fan. Just like this past summer against South Africa. However, here are the key reasons why losing to South Africa is not as painful as that horrible 2005:

1) South Africa were the better team. Australia played badly again, but we had our chances to win it and we bottled it. We can acknowledge better teams.

2) The Proteas' performances were not flukes, and their players were not in some kind of never-to-be-repeated Indian summer. They had built their form up over the past few years.

3) They didn't carry on like flamin' galahs after they won two Test matches. Whatever the equivalent of the South African OBE is, they didn't give it to a bunch of blokes who did the job they're paid large amounts of money just to get done.

4) We recognise that our team is in transition and we're willing to cut them some more slack.

5) We've just gone and handed them a defeat on their home soil with three of our blokes playing their first Test.

The Ashes in 2005 will always be a bad memory, but hopefully, one day, Flintoff and Vaughan and co will come out and say "you know what, I probably didn't deserve to be made a member of the Order of the British Empire for barely winning two cricket matches." And I'd like to think that I will be around to say "EXACTLY!"


The Nightwatchgirl said...

We rarely have any good news, so when someone does well in some sport (take the olympics last year for eg), the Queen likes to get involved. Actually, to be more specific, it's not the Queen who nominates, it's the government, and not because they really recognise sporting achievement (read shock) when England (or GB) does something a bit better on the day than another country, but so they can look 'with the people.' Really it's more politics than anything. But, if England produce a miracle this summer and somehow win the Ashes back, expect the entire team to be knighted, given their own castles and start jousting. Just so you're not shocked.

Angus said...

Sir Collingwood does have a ring to it.

From the point of view of the English, they don't have to give a crap about what we Aussies think. They won the series.

And it was very therapeutic writing that post. I feel a lot better about the whole thing now. Just in time for another heartbreak this coming English summer...

Wicket Maiden said...

As always Geoff Boycott hits the nail on the head:
"I feel so bad about mine, I'm going to tie it round my cat. It doesn't mean anything anymore. It's a joke."

Rob said...

As an Englishmen I think its my duty to point out are wrong. They were given MBEs, not OBEs. Vaughan was given an OBE as captain.

Suhas said...

I kind of disagree about that England side being crap, much as the OBEs/MBEs were unwarranted. Like the South Africans last year, it (the series victory) was the culmination of some excellent performances over 2004/2005. They had a wonderfully varied attack (even considering the presence of wheelie bin Sir Ashley), and although they have fallen victim to their own complacence since, it is worth noting the vital contributions of guys like Marcus Trescothick and Simon Jones. Those two, along with a fully-fit Flintoff, have been badly missed.

cricketanalysisdotcom said...

The fluke English win was the best thing that ever happened to the Ashes for both sides. If the Aussies had held we would be looking at 12 in a row now. Nobody would care anymore. Look at this year. Australia drops a couple games to SA and India and the English actually think they can win! Crazy.

per head service said...

I really think that those test matches were good, not excellent of course, but they were good and that is important for the performance of the players

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