November 24, 2017

Horse 2344 - The Ashes Is Too Hard To Predict

In the age before climate change finally renders life on Earth unsustainable, the whole notion of the seasons ebbing and changing is fast becoming a nonsense. At least in Australia, the summer is officially defined as beginning on December 1st and ending on February 31st, thus allowing for the fact that the arbitrary overlay of the calendar is equally variable and also a nonsense. When coupled with the fact that the summer doesn't line up with the already arbitrary overlay of the calendar and falls in two calendar years, the playing of cricket in an Australian summer is just the overlay of a nonsensical game, over the top of two other nonsenses.
In my mind, summer in Australia begins at precisely 10:30am Queensland time (because Queensland sensibly doesn't use Daylight Savings Time; which is yet another nonsense), when the first ball of the First Test is bowled. That means that in my arbitrary nonsensical scheme of things, the summer started yesterday when the first ball of the first over of the First Test was bowled. Welcome to the summer.

I would have said that the first day's play was likely to be an indication of the relative strengths of the two teams this summer.
Australia can not rely on the assumption that they are the best team in the world and that everyone else is just grist for the cricketing mill, because recent evidence would suggest that they have difficulty finding their way out of a wet paper bag, with holes cut in the side and with neon signs pointing the way out. (By the way, have you tried to get a paper bag fitted for neon signs? I tried and found it very difficult to find someone who would operate in a workplace that small.)
England on the other hand, always operate on the assumption that they are terrible. We always remember Our Lady Jenny Bull Of The Perpetual Assumption Of Rubbishness (amen), and that England being crap at cricket is just one in the long line of being crap at every sport including football, rugby, running, swimming, netball, hockey and losing an empire. The only sport which England seems to excel at is motor racing and Lewis Hamilton has proven that by becoming Formula One World Champion again, but even that falls on the predicate that he is driving a Silver Arrow which has been engineered by Germans.

The first day of this summer defied expectations by providing us with precisely zero information about the two teams in this Ashes series. Both team's recent form is like looking into a bag of Scrabble tiles and expecting to find "quixotic" but only finding "ham". When the rain came, the score was England on 110-1 after Cook fell cheaply and that should have given Australia cause to drive their Size 9 Dunlop Challenger gumboot firmly into the neck of England but they simply failed to do so. Every single one of Australia's supposed front line attack bowlers, failed to show any kind of intent at all and what the Courier-Mail had crowed as the "Gabbatoir" was more like the "Gabba Bottom Paddock" as both the Australian bowlers and fielders wandered around like Brown's Cows (The "Gabba Bottom Paddock" wouldn't have sold very many newspapers, I fear).
England on the other hand also failed to show any intent, as Cook fell for 2, Stoneman 53, Vince 83, and Root was trapped in front for an LBW on 15, and the day's play ended on an acceptable yet boring 196-4. The biggest highlight of the day happened when Australia took the new ball in the 81st over and Moeen Ali complained that the light was failing. The next over, Starc claimed that he'd managed to trap Dawid Malan leg before wicket but when it was referred to the third umpire who also couldn't see the ball in the dim light, Umpire Aleem Dar finally agreed with Ali's complaint.

Let's assume for a second that England manages to lose all six remaining wickets in the first over today (because as an England fan, finding new and impressive ways to be rubbish is par for the course. If a 1983 Ford Granada were to suddenly fall out of the sky and take out an English batsman's wicket, that wouldn't be anything particularly out of the ordinary). All out for 196 wouldn't be all that bad on this pitch. Dare I say it, it might be even defendable.
I would expect that given a new day and six wickets in hand, 196 runs already on the board is a pretty handy thing to have. Trying to guess any kind of outcome either for this match or indeed the rest of the series, is again like looking into that Scrabble bag of destiny and pulling out the word "pots", or is it "post", or is it "tops", or is it "stop", who knows? It certainly isn't "quixotic" because that would be as pointless as tilting at windmills, with a cricket bat, while riding on the roof of a 1983 Ford Granada falling out of the sky. It's just another layer of nonsense being laid down. Welcome to summer.

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