Test standard boos before celebratory booze

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The moment, when it came, was hugely exciting. Connoisseurs of booing had spent quite some time nervously anticipating it. A full series build-up and then a full day’s play where the prospect of a home win grew ever more likely. Just what would it sound like when Megatron finally turned up to spoil the party?

Before the sunset

After four days sitting in a comfortable armchair, sipping tea and watching repeats of Morse, England finally flung off their cardigan, kicked off their slippers and played some cricket on day five of the Oval Test. It was infuriating for the implication of what might have been.

Kevin Pietersen in particular showed that he is a better player when he moves quite some way towards the foolish end of the responsibility spectrum. Dead-batting his way to 100-and-odd ball fifties is no good to anyone. In contrast, when he calls on his full range of strokes, playing them only according to the field and bowling, you see why he’s so good and you also remember how he hands over a malleable bowling attack to the batsmen who follow him.

A 3-0 Ashes win is an excellent result, but England have been a reactive side. Australia have been proactive. It is wrong to cite the result as being justification for England’s approach, because a proactive England is not the same as a proactive Australia. Combine Australia’s approach with England’s ability to actually win and you’d have a decent cricket team.


Mike Gatting wasn't receiving the King Cricket email when he dropped that ludicrously easy chance against India in 1993.


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  1. The England players pissed on the pitch. Apparently. Maybe it was in homage to the absent Panesar. Or maybe it never actually happened at all. Don’t let the facts stand in the way of a good story.

  2. Hamstrung by the shackles of overwhelming favouritehood, wherein the mantra is always “Don’t lose”. It just confuses them and gives them doubt, like Henry V saying “Once more unto the breach, dear friends, but be sensible and don’t take too many risks”.

    England need underdog status like Lance Armstrong needs EPO. Unfortunately, against Australia they’re not going to get it anytime soon.

  3. BTW, on the subject of booing I thought the crowd yesterday had it just about right (boo everybody). I booed while watching on TV, in the following order of boo-deservedness:

    ICC – 11/10 for having an entirely predictable stupid rule
    Giles Clarke – 10/10, do I need to explain?
    Michael Clarke – 10/10 for being sporting right up to the point where he knew he was going to lose, then crying like a big baby
    The Umpires – 7/10 for not telling Clarke to fuck off and play cricket
    Shane Watson – 5/10, 4 for being Shane Watson, 1 for being Australian
    Alastair Cook – 2/10 because by this point booing was fun

    Since the ICC’s mistake was from when they set the rule, and Giles Clarke’s mistake was from when he was born, in terms of yesterday the biggest criminal was Michael Clarke. Had he the balls some people think he has, he would have taken the light meters off the umpires and thrown them away. But in fact, he was the one repeatedly asking them to check. He gave them no choice. He told them what their job was, and effectively forced them to do it. They ought to have been strong enough to ignore him, but he put them in an unnecessarily difficult position.

    1. Did you happen to read Coverdale’s piece on cricinfo where he lauds Clarke’s decision to declare while conveniently side-stepping the issue of him running away when he knew he was going to lose? It is remarkable for its hypocrisy.

    2. Australian sports is renowned for it’s hypocrisy. If an Aussie ‘legend’ pumps his team full of juice it’s a ‘misunderstanding’. If the Chinese women’s swimming team does it then that’s grounds for war.

    3. I have a hard time believing Steven Waugh would’ve started bitching about lights in that situation, so I am not going to generalize it to Aussie Sport in general. I don’t know enough about it.

      I’ve to confess I’ve no idea about the roid issue you’re talking about there.

  4. The thing I am finding very confusing these days is this cry of “Root”, which has a sound indiscernible from the sound “boo”.

    When England tour Aussieland in a few weeks time, with Joe Root breaking the Aussie spectators’ hearts, how are we to tell whether the crowd noise is the Barmy Army saying “Root” or the Aussie larrikins going “boo”?

    When a noise might mean one thing or the almost exact opposite, it is surely a failure of communication.

  5. It just shows how far English cricket remains behind the vanguard. Australian crowds were booing Clarke in the Fifth Test of the last Ashes series. England will next have to engineer a huge vacuum of batting talent to try to catch up.

  6. I’ve written a new team song for the Australians to sing for the next dozen years or so.

    Under the Southern Cross I Stand
    A sprig of wattle in my hand
    I might have scored more if I’d used a bat
    But actually, probably not

  7. ODI squad:

    Morgan (c), Bopara, Buttler, Carberry, Finn, Jordan, J Overton, Pietersen, Rankin, Root, Stokes, Tredwell, Trott, Wright.

    No Cook, Bell, Broad, Swann, Anderson, Bairstow or Woakes.

    1. That’s excellent, Sam. There is a lot to that idea of forgetting how to win. In my opinion, which admittedly is forged on the rugby field and badminton court rather than the cricket pitch, it is at least partly to do with your brain telling you that because your opponent is better at this game than you (as your brain perceives it), you have to do special things to beat him. So you don’t pass to the centre and just let him have a go, you half dummy an inside pass before cutting towards the wing and slipping an out-of-the-back-door blind flick to the full-back on a crash ball. “Knock on”, says the referee. “Bloody idiot”, says the coach.

      So you’ll be fine next season. Just relax. In Div 6, you know, you can relax and still win. Promotion beckons. Trust me on this.

    2. Thanks, Bert. I hope your confidence is not misguided. I shall endeavour to keep you informed of my progress.

    3. In squash, a sense of inferiority tends to manifest itself as a series of attempted winners which only result in the distinct bang of ball hitting tin.

    4. I’ve just guided my badminton team into Division 2 of the Manchester Badminton League. Admittedly, the place I’ve guided it from is Division 1, which does take the shine off somewhat. So most of that message of support was in fact aimed at convincing myself that this is what will happen. Certainly my experience of Div 1 was one of making double the number of unforced mistakes by playing too tightly to the net and the lines, in fear of our opponents imagined super-human abilities.

      To add to the stress, tonight is SELECTION NIGHT. In previous years I have approached the selection process by being chairman of the selection committee, which has been a considerable help. This year we have decided to let someone else pick the teams, an ex-international player who can’t be fooled. He’s coming to the club to watch us all play this evening. But all I have to do is just RELAX and play my NATURAL GAME, and it will be fine. That’s ALL I HAVE TO DO.

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