British Cycling’s psychiatrist, Steve Peters, wrote a book called The Chimp Paradox. The basic premise is that the emotional, impulsive parts of your brain can almost be considered a separate being – the inner chimp. We respond to things emotionally, but it’s often better to suppress these reactions and first apply logic before deciding on a course of action.
David Warner strikes us as being someone who doesn’t have a real grip on his chimp. There have been a whole series of events involving him which smack of a bloke getting het up about something and then acting without engaging the higher part of the brain.
The verdict from many is that there is no higher part to Warner’s brain, but whenever he’s interviewed in a calm state of mind, he seems to us to be a bright, self-aware kind of bloke. We actually quite like him. He appears to see the crowd’s treatment of him for what it truly is – pantomime – which is easier said than done when you’re the target. He also managed to joke about being caught by Joe Root, which was kind of endearing.
Warner’s the kind of guy who will do something completely moronic in the heat of the moment and then be genuinely remorseful, only to again react stupidly the next time he’s in an emotionally-charged situation. It’s not really about learning from his mistakes, because he knows when he’s an idiot. It’s more a question of whether he can keep his inner chimp from shrieking and flinging excrement when his blood’s up.5 Appeals
So where does this leave us? Ashes retention is technically ticked off, but the series is not yet decided. Australia have returned to Test cricket and England have been a little bit disappointing in how they’ve responded to that.
England’s bowling, Australia’s batting
Young Australian batsmen like Chris Rogers and Michael Clarke fared well on a flat pitch, but the team’s batting hasn’t suddenly gained the rigidity of raw spaghetti. Most of it’s still as floppy as cooked spaghetti. On the other hand, England’s bowling appeared as insipid as plain spaghetti.
Tim Bresnan probably is England’s third best seam bowler, but he shares many qualities with either James Anderson or Stuart Broad without offering anything additional. It’s a little like adding more spaghetti to a plate of spaghetti bolognese when it would benefit far more from some parmigiano reggiano.
On a livelier pitch or with more swing in the air, this trio of pace bowlers will doubtless function very well, but do England not need some sort of plan for when conditions don’t give them much to work with?
England’s batting, Australia’s bowling
One of the most damning outcomes of this match for England is that Australia may well not change their team too radically. That’s a sign of a missed opportunity. Australia have a few okay players and continued mismanagement of them has been improving England’s chances immeasurably.
We worry that England have allowed Australia the breathing space needed to cease tinkering with their line-up. The ideal scenario would have seen prolonged tinkeration right up until the end of the next Ashes series – basically, a self-imposed campaign of confidence erosion, both individual and collective.
Now what? Now they’ll sort of settle on a team who might perform a bit better than they otherwise would have done? What a sickening thought.19 Appeals
If we had to use a word to describe Kevin Pietersen in the field, we’d use ‘prancing’. However, he hasn’t been prancing in this match. He’s been cumbersome. We also saw a photo of him running during one of the warm-ups and he was panting with neck flab caught mid flap. Clearly, based on yesterday’s evidence, he has plenty more runs in him, but there are signs we should make an effort to appreciate his innings while we can.
Pietersen describes himself as ‘an old man’ and says that his knee was ‘a shambles’ in New Zealand and will never fully recover, but as long as the joint can do its bit and allow the other parts of his body to move in the correct sequence and at the correct times in order that sixes can be whipped over the bowler’s head, he’s still in business.
Looking at the forecast for this afternoon and Monday, much of the action in this match could be considered attritional preamble for the fourth Test, which starts on Friday. By that yardstick, England have scored 120 overs to Australia’s 146 and could conceivably secure a first innings lead.26 Appeals
There was a bit more fast-medium today, or maybe we finally dropped to medium-fast. Either way, it was all a bit ethereal. There’s a point in every massive innings where everyone in the field’s just resigned themselves to things. It’s usually about 430. After that, you get a watercolour painting of cricket – wishy-washy and of no real consequence.
Declarations change the vibe considerably. Everything sharpens. You go from each run being a mere 500th of the total where wickets are of no real consequence to a situation where every run feels vital and a wicket is effectively five per cent of the rest of the Test match.
Each of England’s pace bowlers got through 30-odd overs. Somehow only five overs out of 146 were bowled by part-timers. Joe Root bowled four overs on a pitch where the main spinner took five of seven wickets to fall. The next Test starts on Friday.
For his part, Nathan Lyon was good and fresh after being deemed surplus to requirements for the first two Tests. Skittering in with his big Mekon head, he created chances, even if we didn’t see a right lot of Jeff. We saw a nightwatchman though. Not sure why.24 Appeals
Chris Rogers did the hard bit. He faced the swing. He faced the fresher bowlers. After that, things all got a bit fast-medium.
Things getting a bit fast-medium is pretty much our worst nightmare when it comes to watching England. We might start using the phrase in other contexts.
“How was dinner?”
“It was… fine…”
“Fine? What does ‘fine’ mean?”
“Well, you know. It was just…”
“What? It was just what?”
“It was just a bit… fast-medium…”
Whatever the rights and wrongs of the various reviews, England just didn’t create many chances. We expected reverse swing considering the arid conditions over the last month or so, but we didn’t really see it. With this bowling attack, that pretty much leaves England with a bit of fast-medium.
Michael Clarke played well though. Once he was up and running, it was a day of deft cuts and perfect timing. It’s refreshing to see that kind of an innings because that’s not generally how batsmen go about their jobs these days. You feel like you’re seeing something unique and get a real sense that you’re watching someone unusually talented, rather than some sort of factory-produced, gym-built automaton.
For his part, Steve Smith looked awful; really, really hideously bad. We’ve no idea if that means anything with Smith. Some batsman look like smeared dog excrement but still score runs. Then again, he was only facing fast-medium.15 Appeals
The first morning of an Ashes Test has become a time when we all look forward to finding out who the hell Australia have picked and what sequence they’ve been arbitrarily put into.
- David Warner replaces Phil Hughes
- Nathan Lyon replaces Ashton Agar
- Mitchell Starc replaces James Pattinson
It’s probably the most sensible team selection yet, although Lyon would probably be feeling chirpier if he hadn’t recently been dropped in favour of someone who’d barely played first-class cricket.
David Warner makes more sense than Phil Hughes. Then again, picking 10 players instead of 11 makes roughly the same amount of sense as Phil Hughes.30 Appeals
Don’t know if you’ve heard, but they’ve tarted the place up. There’s lots of shiny surfaces now.
The Point has been joined by a couple of other Point-like buildings, so it’s a bit like there’s a whole family of fan heaters trained on the pitch. We quite like the effect.
There’s also a big wall of glass behind the pavilion. Not sure where that came from, but on a cricket ground it’s asking for trouble. Inside there’s a board room, amongst other things and we’re not sure how we feel about that. We don’t really like the idea of cricket encouraging ‘business’.
Most importantly of all, the capacity has been increased to 25,000 for Test matches. This is a good thing, particularly if the gents are no longer infused with the stench of decades of misdirected piss.41 Appeals
3.4 The bowler is up to the wicket now and he bowls and that is clipped away nicely through midwicket for at least two, the fielder is chasing hard and HE’S OUT! The fielder is OUT! Bert is down in a crumpled heap on the floor clutching his hamstring. Well that was a suicidal chase at his age. His teammates are gathering round in concern, worried that they might have to do more running now they’re a man down. And one of them has told him to stop whining and get on with it. And I think, yes, I’m sure that was the captain. Bert gets gingerly to his feet, obviously in considerable pain. Any reasonable man can see quite clearly that Bert is in absolute agony here. Anyone with any sense of humanity whatsoever can quite plainly see that Bert is in no position to run, barely even walk, and therefore needs both sympathy and care if he is to continue in this match. And as expected, the captain has moved him to extra cover with nobody at all on the off-side boundary, told him to drop to three-quarter distance and press in to save the single.11 Appeals
We’ve already done ‘Chris Tremlett’s back‘ once before. We’d hate to repeat ourself.
England have dropped the grossly-overtall Steven Finn and have replaced him with a man of similar height but who also has arms the size of thighs hanging off the sides of some sort of oil-tanker-cum-torso. Then there’s the mouth. Tremlett could definitely have a damn good go at swallowing you whole.
When a snake gets really ambitious with a mouthful and gets an animal lodged halfway in, it coughs up its windpipe to use as a kind of built-in snorkel. We have no doubt whatsoever that Chris Tremlett also has this facility. He is only prevented from using it by his conscience and the ancient code of the giants, which specifies that their kind may only harm humans through seaming deliveries which lift sharply off a good length.
Monty Panesar and James Taylor are also in England’s squad, but eating humans whole isn’t even an option for them. Taylor isn’t even human-sized himself. Take a look at this picture and this picture if you don’t believe us.28 Appeals
Phil Hughes has been talking about how frustrating it has been to have batted at every position from one to six on this Ashes tour, seemingly oblivious to the fact that all six slots have basically meant being an opener.
He also said:
“I feel like I’m very comfortable at the crease at the moment.”
Which may be because he hasn’t had time to feel discomfort. Think of flights or long bus journeys. Sometimes it takes a while.
Hughes does exhibit some level of awareness, however.
“When you lose it is not a good thing.”
So at least that message is finally hitting home.
But standards are still low. He describes David Warner’s 193 against South Africa A as “a big 190″.
Now 197 or 199 – they’re big 190s. Considering the 10 different possibilities, 193 is actually pretty disappointing.15 Appeals