‘O England, My England, what hath happened to thee and thy mighty game of cricket’! The proud nation which gave cricket to the world, ended a much hyped about ‘Ashes’ series against Australia when its players indulged in a special kind of celebration, some of its illustrious players peeing on the Oval pitch. By the way, England did win the series 3-0.
There was enough rain during the match to prevent any definite result. But there was more water from English heroes Stuart Broad, James Anderson and batsman, Kevin Pietersen. As play ended and darkness enveloped Kennington Oval, the English celebrations shifted from the dressing rooms to the pitch and Australian reporters, looking round for ‘special’ stories discovered a real special one. Embarrassed English media and its cricket authorities did not know where to look. Former Test players who had performed noble deeds at the Oval tweeted funny comments among themselves. In the ‘Ashes’ triumph every rash act could be forgiven.
Just think, if the sacred Oval turf had been polluted by the pee of non-English players, hell would have broken loose. The British media would have torn apart India, Pakistan or Sri Lankan teams for the same misdeed, calling them names and demanding their expulsion from international cricket. Obviously, English pee was holier than others and the Peeers having won the Ashes series, all would be forgiven and forgotten. Curator Cam Sutherland came out with a mild rebuke, “it was most unfortunate and the pitch did not have a good look.” There was total silence from the English Cricket Board.
Had peeing become endemic in English cricket? Some days back, Sussex and England spinner of Indian origin, Monty Panesar went berserk inside a pub and with too much alcohol inside him, peed on the pub’s bouncers. Not cricket’s short-pitched bouncers, but the tough looking guards in the pub. Sussex suspended him, but he was snapped by Essex and may yet find himself on the flight to Australia next October for a return ‘Ashes’ series. But if Monty were to be ignored for selection on the Pee issue, what about Broad, Pietersen and Anderson, stars of English cricket. Future English selectors could no longer ignore the ‘Pee factor’ while selecting teams
For the third time running, England won an ‘Ashes’ series but the cricket provided fell far short of expectations. We all expected Australia to be slaughtered 5-0, but that happened only in the first test. The 3-0 result was misleading, with a bit of luck it could have been 3-2. Poor team selection, disorganised batting order and unimaginative captaincy did not help Australia. Add to that some horrendous umpiring, poor interpretation of DRS and acrimony between the teams did not help matters . Cricket’s sporting spirit was thrown to the winds by men like pacer Stuart Broad. His snick accepted by the Australian wicketkeeper would have been heard even in Pakistan but the ‘honourable’ umpire from that nation ruled ‘not out’. Broad, to his eternal shame’ did not ‘walk’ which prompted Australian team manager Darren Lehman to label him a ‘cheat’. Broad besides a lean build, also possessed a ‘thick skin’ and celebrated his success in the series by becoming a member of the ‘Pee brigade’.
The ‘legendary’ Ashes series was full of farcical moments. The Australian top order was chopped and changed numerous times but remained a joke. Another joke was Shane Watson’s position in the batting order. Captain Clarke and the team Think Tank could not decide whether Watson would be effective at No 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10 or 11 and finally discovered No 3 was the answer. Clarke suddenly discovered he could not handle bouncers from Stuart Broad. 35-year old Australian opener Chris Rogers who had appeared in only three tests in the past turned out to be the best batsman for the side! The lower half of the team always scored more than the top half!
England too (barring the first test) never looked like the No 2 team in the world in Test cricket. Captain Cook despite being provided with the best ingredients and recipes could not produce a decent dinner. At the slightest ‘threat’ from Australia, he went on the defensive. His batsmen crawled, the bowlers took their own time completing their overs and his fielders were spread out everywhere. It was hard to identify who between Clarke and Cook was more incompetent. It made me think of the days when the West Indians and Australians were top dogs in the game and played to win under any circumstances.
And now the Ashes fiasco will be repeated from next November in Australia! At least this time, they should get more competent umpires.