Today, a brief side-step away from the heavy stuff: England’s cricketers actually have something to be happy about – well, relieved, at least. They came out of the first test against Australia with a draw. And it tells you something about Ashes tests when a draw is regarded as a good thing.
Except not everyone is happy. Australia’s captain Ricky Ponting, for a start. His side needed to take one more wicket, and sooner rather than later. How so? Well, if they’d knocked over that last wicket before England had levelled the scores, the Aussies would have won by an innings – game over. After the scores had been levelled, Australia would have had to bat again, and that would involve a ten minute break. When time is counting down, that ten minutes can be the difference between winning and merely drawing.
And the way that England may have helped time count down is what is taxing Ponting. The hated Poms sent on the twelfth man and even tried to send on the team physio in the closing minutes. Captain Andrew Strauss claims that there was nothing sinister in the actions, but Ponting has gone into whinge mode. And the Aussies, for a side that likes to characterise the English as whingers, tend to that kind of thing themselves when they aren’t winning.
Back in 2005, when Australia needed to win the final test at the Oval to square the series and therefore retain the Ashes, they were frustrated by a blazing innings from Kevin Pietersen. The following day, the Aussie media was carping long and loud about KP’s South African origins. At the same time, there was selective amnesia about the time when South African players, during the apartheid era, fetched up in Australia. One notable example, Kepler Wessels, opened the batting for Australia a number of times.
But we mustn’t complain about that. That would be whingeing.