“Smith is like a honey dipped rose petal carefully placed on Egyptian cotton silk sheets”
We should have seen this coming. The warning signs were all there. The tsunami alarm siren was blaring.
But we all missed it. We didn’t want to entertain the idea. We needed to believe that this series is alive.
Ricky Ponting is an Ashes hero. He rings the 5 minute warning bell. That’s what heroes do at Lord’s. Last year, Ganguly had the honour. He somehow managed to attempt to ring it and failed. It still doesn’t make sense. Maybe the bell has a defence mechanism against anti-heroes?
Ponting gives a quick, slightly frazzled rendition. He is not careful with the aural ornament. He simply grabs it, rings it roughly and leaves. So very Australian.
The bell ceremony is complete.
Later that same day, here we are. A little shocked and a little surprised.
England are in a ‘New Era’.
New coach. New Director of Cricket. New team. New attitude.
This year, they have played in three different Test series. In each one, they took the lead after the first Test. Against the West Indies and New Zealand, they ended the series 1-1. They don’t have the ability to defend a lead.
England have won the first Ashes Test against Australia.
In the Australian outback, clapped out utes are the norm. They are not delicate pretty things. Rather, they are dependable diesel trucks.
They keep on going. They can take a hard knock. They probably lack functioning air conditioning. They crawl along. They are rarely discarded for flash new models.
Their owners love them. The soft latte sipping city folk don’t understand the attraction.
Chris Rogers is a clapped out ute.
Steve Smith is a gift from the cricketing gods.
He is a beautiful looking specimen of human existence. His middle name is beautiful. His batting is beautiful. Like a honey dipped rose petal carefully placed on Egyptian cotton silk sheets.
So is Moeen Ali.
However, one began his career at number 8 and is now cricket’s Nureyev. Dancing at the crease. Moves no one has seen before. Your eyes are locked.
Smith bats at number 3. He has made six first innings centuries in the last eight Test matches he has played.
Moeen is now batting at number 8.
James Anderson is a skilful bowler. In the right conditions, he is Blitzkrieg.
However, the ‘right conditions’ are not visible today.
The ball has stopped swinging. The pitch lacks bounce. The batsmen are letting balls go. The ball is not on a trajectory of hitting the off bail.
Come to think of it, the right conditions rarely appear for James.
He looks good in the first few overs though. That has to count for something right?
The honour board at Lord’s records centuries made at the ground. Smith will have is name up there. So too will Rogers.
Anderson has 0/64. He is only 36 runs shy of his century. The curator at Lord’s will probably choose not to honour this performance.
Like a vegetarian in a slaughter house, David Warner never looks entirely comfortable in the UK.
Yet, somehow he finds a way.
It is not the way of Geoffrey Boycott or Bill Lawry. It is not the way of a T20 slogger either. It is just his way.
In 15 overs, the patented Warner way ensured that the story of the remaining 435 overs of the match were already written. If it lasts that long.
Those lacking sight of cricketing nuance will bemoan his early exit. His rash shot. His brain fart.
But this is the Warner way. Like Thor, he swings his mighty club and pulverises all sense of hope from his foe. He does it quickly.
A Warner 30 odd is as practical as a Clarke 70 or a Cook 100. It has a similar impact.
We should have seen this coming. We should have known.
England are trying to be Australia. They show glimpses.
Like a young boy wearing the number of their favourite footballer on their back. It is cute. Sweet. Warming.
Australia are not trying to be England. It is not their aspiration.
For they are already Australia.
Reproduced with permission on First Post