Thank god you’re here, Ashes

AshesssssRight, well, I’ve spent the last two hours watching the Ashes to use Tony Greig’s favourite sentence construction, and it’s just awesome. So I’m going to justify this lazy self-indulgence by blogging about it, even though it seems the entire rest of has been devoted to cricket coverage. I can’t remember being this excited about cricket since, well, the last Ashes.

Three commentators. What do you do when you’ve got a legendary but clearly aging commentariat, some youngsters like Heals and Slats (the two best so far I reckon, besides the obvious Mark Nicholas) who demand to be included on merit, and a requirement to include irascible Englishmen like David Lloyd for ‘balance’? tough decisions have to be made. And Nine’s really nailed it by having three. Revolutionary thinking, Nine. Revolutionary. No-one’s been kicked out, but they’ve augmented the team beautifully. It’s a great improvement – but what a challenge for the Twelfth Man to add three parody voices into his hilarious commentary spoofs?

Infra-red cam. What would cricket be without an extra camera? Some boffin has figured out that infra-red footage shows where a ball has hit the bat – making a huge white cherry in the bat. Now cricketers won’t be able to get away with pretending they didn’t get edges, and some of them might actually display some sportsmanship and walk. If only they could do something like this for divers in soccer.

Boony and Botham. There’s a talking Beefy alongside Boony for the Ashes, or Tashes, battle. Interesting addition but there’s no contest. Botham was a great player and is a controversial commentator, but he isn’t a legend of cricketing stoicism like our Boony.

Two beach cricket contests. Come on guys, surely you could have figured this out. Both Solo and XXXX are holding beach cricket competitions. Except XXXX’s has Allan Border. Oh well, hopefully there’ll be a Solo vs XXXX Beach SuperTest.

Stephanie Brantz. A woman? In the cricket coverage? Interesting innovation – except if she’s sitting in the middle of the Barmy Army and they cross to her for about 5 seconds. Seeing her Nine microphone, the Poms immediately started chanting “Channel 4”. Typical of their larrikin wit, which isn’t actually funny. Imagine having to spend all that time sitting among boozy men for five seconds of a pointless cross?

And most importantly, an earlyish wicket. Just when Langer and Hayden were settling in, Flintoff reminded us why England holds the Ashes with a beautiful delivery that moved off the edge of Hayden’s bat. I was starting to wonder whether this series would be as boringly one-sided as previous Australian summers – let’s hope not.

The one thing that hasn’t changed is that cricket’s worst TV talent, Simon O’Donnell, is still hosting The Cricket Show. I don’t understand how this could be possible. Most of the commentators were promised jobs for life after doing World Series back in the ’70s, but I just cannot understand how he’s kept the gig – did he save the young James Packer’s life or something?

Dominic Knight

Photo: Craig Golding