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In which I continue to seek part time employment as the ruler of the world.

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Sunday March 14 2010

My fellow BrianMicklethwaitDotCom sports correspondent Antoine Clarke emails with the link to this, which says, very amusingly, that the French rugby team are very good just now and fun to watch, while England are very bad just now and about as much fun to watch paint drying, in Birmingham.  Antoine is more than even convinced that the England players are okay, but that the coaching is all wrong.  Over-coaching.  That’s what he says.  I’ve DVDed the games, but have only watched occasional moments.  The England moments that I forced myself to witness on the day all looked dire.

I’ve been watching the IPL, as in Twenty20 cricket from India, on the telly.  Two big Amazing Facts so far: one, that Yusuf Pathan got a century in thirty seven balls for Rajasthan against Mumbai; and two, that Rajasthan still lost.

The complaint about Twenty20 cricket at first, and still, was and is that it is unsubtle.  But unsubtlety is really just ignorance.  When it started, they and we all had a lot to learn about how the game is played and how to do well and who is doing well, and what to do when you are doing badly, etc. etc.  How do you bat if you are four down for very little at the start?  How do you stop people hitting you for six?  As all concerned learn about these things, it gets to be a very subtle thing indeed.  (This reminds me of what I also like to say about newly liberated markets.  At first vulgar and dishonest crap abounds.  But then when everyone learns about it all, things calm down and get much better.)

The first two matches this time around (which is the third time around), were notable for being very exciting, and for being very fluctuating.  The first began with poor batting, then they recovered well.  Then the other guys started batting well, but then, from a commanding position, faltered and eventually lost.  The early complaint about Twenty20 was that nobody ever recovers.  Once you’ve fallen behind, you just fall further behind until it ends.  No see-saw-ing.  All see and no saw.  If you see what I mean.  But that first game was see-saw-see-saw.  The second game, the one where Yusuf got that amazing hundred, was all over bar the adverts, until Yusuf nearly won it for the other side.  And he would have, had he not been very unluckily run out.

Violence and subtlety can overlap, and in Twenty20 cricket, they do.

I think one of the things I especially like about the IPL is that lefties, I sense, don’t like it at all.  They preferred India when it was a basket case, taking its economic policy advice from them and from the USSR.  Now that it has liberalised, i.e. turned its back on lefty/USSR economic policy crap, India is doing outrageously well, at any rate by comparison with the bad old days.  And the IPL showcases that outrageous economic wellness for all the world to see.  Ludicrously rich Indian film stars owning entire teams that cost a billion quid.  Cheerleaders.  Spoilt rich brats making painted faces at the cameras.  And above all, Indians hitting sixes and bowling really fast and looking like ancient mythic warriors, rather than all thinking and looking like Mahatma bloody Gandhi and being glad if they scrape a draw.  Hurrah!

UPDATE: Hurrah!

I like that, especially the bit about India doing well after a bit of liberalisation.

Posted by David Davis on 14 March 2010

>> India is doing outrageously well

Indeed. Isn’t it excellent?

I got mail a couple of weeks ago from a young lady studying theology, asking how I feel about roads & new houses being built in the vicinity of remote scenic temples that I took pictures of in India ten years ago. I replied saying I’m all for it: desperately poor people in rural India need roads (among other things) in order to become less desperately poor, and if some of them can now afford to live in more comfortable houses, well, hurrah. A slight loss in picturesqueness is a small price to pay for a reduction in human misery.

She hasn’t replied yet: I suspect from the tone of her original mail that my answer may have caused a certain amount of surprise and discomfort.

Posted by Alan Little on 15 March 2010

I have mentioned this before, but the difference between the Australian and English attitudes to this is profound. Rather than getting worked up about how the rise of Indian cricket is a bad thing, in the way the English have, the Australians have made peace with it. “Made peace” here translates as “have done what the Indians asked of them in return for being paid a lot”. This isn’t just the current players and officials but also people such as journalists and retired players. I am struck by just how many Australian accents one hears when listening to Indian cricket broadcasts. Former players who didn’t get the commentary gig in Australia and looked further afield have often ended up doing very nicely out of it.

The fact that English cricket sneered at the Indians for some time before doing a deal with Sir Allen Stanford instead rather boggles the mind, actually.

Posted by Michael Jennings on 15 March 2010

Apologies, but I just can’t agree with the ‘subtlety’ bit about 20/20. Thirty-seven balls to hit a ton? That’s not subtle, that’s mindless, flukey bollox engendered by forced field placings. Give me Swanny, or Warney in his pomp, wheeling away in a test match and probing and prompting the batsmen into error over the course of 2 hours anyday over this new abortion of the game.

Boundaries and Sixes do not a game of cricket make. Intrigue and guile do.

It’s the same crappy argument that led to rugby changing its rules leading to the ridiculous scorelines we now see in tri-nations matches. A 65-35 try fest is not exciting. It’s boooooooring. The regulators mistook the act of scoring a try as being exciting in and of itself. Whereas the true excitement came from watching teams probe and test each other over 60 minutes: rolling mauls, skulduggery in the rucks, lineout barging and heaving scrums and then, with tired legs and minds finally taking their toll, a last 20 minutes of line breaks finally being made, desperate defence and slips and fumbles with results in the balance to the very last seconds. THAT was exciting. THAT was intrigue. THAT was worth watching.

Posted by Jez B on 15 March 2010

Apart from having a new boy (Ashton) playing on the wrong wing and not changing captains, I’m afraid the England line up for Saturday in Paris looks good: to have Wilkinson on the bench in case a drop goal is needed at the end is a niggle the French players will not want to dwell on.

If the players are not overcoached again (I’ve referred to them as robots in previous matches) I fear England will perform a lot better than anything we’ve seen since the same fixture last year… which ended 34-10 to England.

I think France are better this time, but I fear they will not appreciate just how much better this new line up from England might be.

I’m hoping the centres are told to stay well away from the number 10 and the wingers told to just keep hoofing the ball at Harinordoquy, Bastareaud and Poitrenaud. And can England miss nine or so tackles against the French centres like they did for the Irish, the Italians and the Scots? No chance. :(

Posted by Antoine Clarke on 18 March 2010

I didn’t see England v Scotland, but England could not possibly have been as bad as Australia were against Scotland before Christmas

Posted by Michael Jennings on 18 March 2010
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