Ian Ronald Bell - the English No.4 also known as "the Sledgehammer of Eternal Justice" and once upon a time maker of "Slipstream Centuries" is, as a dedicated reader of this blog might know, the patron saint of this blog. His penchant for making "slipstream centuries" (a Bell century came only when another English batsman had also scored a century in the same innings) not only lead to the genesis of this blog but also provided its name.
So its fitting that Slipstream Cricket salutes Bell for having made his best Ashes century (in his words). According to Slipstream Cricket, the Agar fairytale and the DRS controversies (nothing unusual about it), should not let the Ian Bell century into slipstream. This was one of the better Test innings played. Certainly a game-changing one, putting England in command.
As for the game. 5th Day's play. 137 runs & 4 wickets. Its all upto the bowlers now on both sides (English ones with the ball & Aussie ones with the bat). A thriller is on cards. After all this is the Ashes, we are talking about.
Its probably the littlest trophy in the whole sporting world. Certainly one of the oldest. More have been written about the Ashes than any other sporting contest. And why not? After all it carries a little poem too.
When Ivo goes back with the urn, the urn;
Studds, Steel, Read and Tylecote return, return;
The welkin will ring loud,
The great crowd will feel proud,
Seeing Barlow and Bates with the urn, the urn;
And the rest coming home with the urn.
Its been a long buildup to the double headed Ashes that are going to be played over the next 8 months. 10 Tests between the oldest rivals.
It had been a long wait for the Ashes to commence. England had to play a 2 Test series with the Kiwis, followed by a 3 ODI series against Kiwis, followed by Champions Trophy, and a 2 T20 series against the Kiwis. Australia on the other hand had an even more action-packed start. They played(?) the Champions trophy, then lots of internal games, chopping and changing players, removing the coach, suspending brawling players.
Everyone expected England to turn up and roll over the Aussies. But in the greater interest, the Australianism is still there (thankfully). The greats may have gone, but some of the fight is still there. Inside 2 days of cricket, we have already seen many specials. Peter Siddle's fiver, James Anderson bowling Clarke, Phil Hughes & Steve Smith battling it out, and above all of them Ashton Agar. There is something about a 19-year old, making his debut, coming into bat at No. 11 with his team in deep trouble and then smashing a 98 breaking hordes of records. Its the kind of dream every kid (or even adults) aspiring to be an international cricketer has. It makes one fall in love with the game again after all the spot-fixing scandals.
A 130+ years rivalry, historic context, a good fight and a fairytale story to begin the proceedings.
India wins the Champions Trophy with an unbeaten record (including warm-up victories).
India goes to the West Indies and promptly loses its first two games in the tri-series also involving Sri Lanka.
Amidst this ever-going treadmill of international cricket, the Indian fan gets exhausted. They did not even get to savor their team's victory and off the team went on its next assignment. And after West Indies, there is a tour of Zimbabwe coming up. A good case can be made for coining a term like over-cricket to describe these unending series of meaningless tours. How does BCCI expect the Indian fan to keep cheering for the team if the circus is never-ending?
I can understand the perspective of the West Indies board. The economics from an Indian tour make a lot of sense, as described in detail in this article here. But what does the BCCI gain out of it? Isn't over-exposure going to lead to brand dilution? Already, viewer-fatigue has set in so deep that a live match involving India hardly creates any buzz.
Because of the day long delays, I slept through most of the second-half of the Champions Trophy final. But did remember to check the score, the first thing in the morning after getting up. For the ongoing tri-series, haven't even bothered to do that. I do get to know the results through the news but it isn't something that I actually care about.
The boards and ICC have to work at a better schedule (the current FTP is not the answer). Maybe arrange a Test-playing league along the lines of the Intercontinental Cup. A better revenue-sharing model will also help in containing the overkill & brand dilution.
Without any perspective the contests are meaningless. Cricket is on the way to becoming Tennis. Marquee events (like Tennis Grand Slams) will be followed by interest, while the others will not be. After all even the die-hard fans get tired of the endless grind.