Michael Atherton, in The Australian, 20 November 2017, where the chosen title is “I’ve never seen a circus like this in 30 years of Ashes cricket
At one stage, it would not have been a surprise to see the Mad Hatter, the White Rabbit or the March Hare on stage. In nearly three decades of involvement in Ashes cricket, I cannot recall witnessing a more bizarre post-match circus than that which presented itself after the conclusion of the Gabba Test.
Cameron Bancroft, left, and Steve Smith following Australia’s Ashes Test win at the Gabba. Picture: AAP.
Michael Atherton, in The Times, 30 January 2014 with some liberties in altering the title
“A DONE deal,” is how, last Thursday, Giles Clarke, the ECB chairman, described the negotiations over the draft proposal for an overhaul of the finances, governance and future shape of world cricket. He was almost right. Yesterday the ICC issued a statement saying that it agreed, in principle if not yet in fine detail, to the proposal as it prepared to hand control to India, England and Australia.
As a body, the ICC will not be missed. Incompetent, wasteful, as the draft proposal hammered home time and again, and self-interested, the directors had a chance to make a stand for something better and brighter, but chose instead to accept the scraps and the concessions on offer. In this, of course, there was absolutely no surprise. Continue reading →
Don Hodges, courtesy of SPORT, 25 November 2013, where the title is“Ashes 2013-2014: Sooner or later, arms and ribs will be broken”
The news that Jonathan Trott is returning to England as a result of a “long-stand stress-related” condition puts England’s defeat in the First Test at Brisbane into perspective. Cricket is not, as Alastair Cook said at yesterday’s post-match press conference, “a war”. It’s a game. A highly professional, intensely contested, increasingly well remunerated game. But a game nonetheless.
It was very clear to everyone watching Trott’s nine-ball innings on Saturday that something was not right with the England number three. Normally so unflappable at the crease, he was unable to cope with the succession of short pitched deliveries fired down at him by Mitchell Johnson. We all thought it was an issue of technique. Now we know better. Comparisons will inevitably be drawn with Marcus Trescothick, the former England opener who was forced to return prematurely from their tour of India in 2006, with his own stress-related issues. But mental illness is by definition a personal condition, and no one but Trott himself is in a position to fully understand his reasons for leaving the tour. The best any outside observer can do is wish him well and leave him in peace. Continue reading →
Mike Atherton, from The Times and The Australian, with apologies for a change of title from that used: “Too much at stake for Kevin Pietersen and England’s permanent divorce”
Pietersen -Pic from AP
IT is unlikely that the England and Wales Cricket Board keeps records for the longest selection meetings but there is a good chance the one concluded yesterday, with the announcement of the squad for the final Test match, wins the gold medal. Inevitably the man who caused the disruption was Kevin Pietersen and the upshot of three days of discussion is that he has been dropped from the squad for Lord’s in a match that England must win to retain its No 1 status.
This has been a remarkable few days, and Pietersen’s axing will go down in the annals of famous non-selections, such as Ken Barrington, disciplined for slow scoring after hitting a hundred in a Test in 1965. The omission of the best player in the team, who only a week ago played one of the greatest Test innings seen in recent times by an England batsman, demonstrates just how far the relationship and trust between Pietersen and the rest of the England team and the management has broken down. Continue reading →
Mike Atherton, in The Times and the Weekend Australian, 26 May 2009, with title “Swatting balls in Delhi doesn’t compare to facing up at Lord’s, it’s just Gaylic”
Pic by Getty Images
LET’S call it Gaylic, shall we, the language of the modern, supranational, jet-setting Twenty20 cricketer. It is almost universal now, cricket’s version of Esperanto if you like, and it doesn’t matter whether it is IPL, BPL, Big Bash or the original, the Friends Life t20, the language is the same – cash is the game – and the building blocks of this new language are taken from its founder, the biggest, baddest Twenty20 cricketer in town: Chris Gayle.
Gaylic was being played out over the loudspeakers with deafening effects during the first Test at Lord’s. While his fellow West Indians were fretting about swing, seam and the slope, and other variables that make batting at Lord’s in May such a difficult task, Gayle was freewheeling for the Royal Challengers Bangalore. Every shot he played echoed all the way to Lord’s. Continue reading →
Michael Athertonin The Weekend Australian, 31 March 2012 and the Times, under a different title: “Fall of Galle leaves discordant Andrew Strauss in need of a big innings”
GALLE has rarely been kind to England captains. More often than not, they have travelled the coast road back to Colombo having been gently basted in the sun, knowing that they have come off second-best. No England captain has left Galle a winner. Nasser Hussain, Michael Vaughan and Andrew Strauss have all struggled there, both as captains and batsmen, Vaughan’s twin draws (hanging on, nine wickets down in 2003, and then saved by the rain in 2007) a triumph compared with the innings defeat suffered by Hussain and the 75-run defeat inflicted on Strauss yesterday.
Watching Strauss in the aftermath of defeat, it was Hussain I was thinking of. During England’s first ever Test match in Galle, Hussain was in the middle of a horror trot. Continue reading →
Michael Athertonin The Australian 8 February 2012 following the Times
WITH the fourth day drawing to a close – and after the opening thrusts of this Test, few would have thought that a possibility – a remarkable turnaround, on two fronts, was completed: not for more than a 100 years has a team bowled out for less than 100 in the first innings of a Test match gone on to win as Pakistan did in Dubai; and, even more remarkably, this by a team that was rudderless, disgraced and derided the world over less than two years ago.
Monday’s victory, the first whitewash by a Pakistan team over England, put the seal on the transformation that began on one of Pakistan’s darkest days at Lord’s in August 2010. Salman Butt’s fall opened the door for a 37-year-old who had been in and out of the team the previous few years, but more out than in, as more obviously talented players were preferred. Continue reading →