Weighing up waste: was India 2013 worse than the last Ashes?

Once the Australian cricketers return home and the last of the bruised fruit has been flung inside the arrivals lounge, let us make a pact as a nation to never speak of the horror of the last five weeks ever again.

The four Test tour of India was filthy, forgettable and farcical. It was sporting ipecac of the highest order that regularly evacuated the contents of the once formidable underbelly of the Australian cricket fanbase.

If I know us Aussies well as the bunch of easily-agitated cricket-loving convicts we are, then I reckon there’s going to be a fair amount of tense pitchforking and forthright questioning as the fallout continues over the coming days.

What game of cricket did the selectors see involving Glenn Maxwell making an effective contribution that compelled them to give him Test caps? Will Mickey Arthur continue to grace us with his presence on Facebook at least? And most importantly, was this the worst series by an Australian cricket side ever?

Maxwell may have bought someone flowers at Cricket Australia, and there’s a possibility that Arthur might have a proclivity for Pinterest. It’s really all up in the air.

Start the car. This series sucks.

Start the car. This series sucks.

And as for the series shame rating?

Without the advent of a Delorian nor the motivation to read, it’s difficult to make a definite determination without being witness to all of the series Australia has taken part in, as well as the general circumstances and expectations of the eras in which they occurred.

However, with my lifetime of cricket to look back upon, one previous series does stand out for its attributes as a source of immense torturous pain inflicted by sinister opposition, and that was the Ashes series of 2010/11.

Was this summer of self-esteem deprivation at the hands of the Motherland worse than the particular torching we’ve just received on the subcontinent?

Let’s stack up the garbage and see which piles highest, starting with the India tour.

It was the first time in the host country’s history of 80 years and 70 home Tests that they had won four matches in a series, making this Australian side the worst team to tour in terms of the final scoreline. Two of these defeats were inside three days with one of them by an innings.

There wasn’t even a scrapped-for draw or meaningless dead rubber victory to sweeten the super-sour deal.

Plus, of course, there was the disciplinary breach by the now-monikered Mohali Four, their shock suspensions, Shane Watson’s spit-and-fly and the perplexity of him being treated to the captaincy in the aftermath.

A thoroughly forgettable sojourn from go-to-whoa. Agreed?

I would give anything for some confetti to be stuck on one of my eyelashes.

I would give anything for some confetti to be stuck on one of my eyelashes.

But with this series failure occurring offshore without the maximum exposure of playing on our patch, is its significance reduced based on the ‘out of sight, out of mind’ argument? And do the powdery pitches that were served up also mitigate? Would Michael Clarke have made a big enough difference in the last Test to help the team save some face?

Let’s hold it up in the light next to the Ashes depression of a few years back.

On home soil and at the hands of our oldest and most despised rivals, Australia was soundly trounced to the tune of 3-1, with each of these defeats by an innings.

And what about these thoroughly discomforting scenarios that had us reaching for the psych shock therapy?

There was day one of the Boxing Day Test at our revered cathedral of the MCG, where the team was bowled out for a paltry 98 before England closed play with slipper firmly squashing throat at 0/157 in front of 84,345 fans.

Then there was the last day of the SCG Test when our hallowed arena of many past patriotic glories was viciously violated by being transformed into a Little London by hordes of travelling English supporters, all who were duly rewarded for their drown-out of the 25 local fans in attendance when their team steamrolled the Australian bats to complete another innings humiliation.

The series performance by the home team was so frowned upon that it triggered a extensive review of Cricket Australia’s policies and procedures in an attempt to never have to endure such prolonged taunting from prawn-fried Englishmen in our own backyard ever again.

A serious reaction to what was a gross butt-caning on our own patch.

But does the fact that Australia pinched a ‘live rubber’ win in Perth save the bacon of this series from being our worst? And does Ricky Ponting’s absence through injury for the last Test also soften the blow?

I’m sorry to make you all revisit these degrading episodes, but I think we should weigh up the waste.

Which of these two is the hardest to forget?

Let’s work it out, so we can start never speaking of it again.

Rebounding Black Caps can inspire Australia to clear the stench

Everyone is having a good laugh at Australia’s expense at the moment.

Our cricket team is stuck in the middle of the imbroglio and performance poverty that the game’s cyclical storms of various controversies tend to cause.

Right now, the dark cloud of despair is lurking heavily over the peak of the Baggy Green just like the flatulence your mate produces after a night of Coronas and spicy tacos, and a burst of unpolluted oxygen appears nowhere in sight.

However, we followers of Michael Clarke’s/Shane Watson’s/anyone but David Warner’s band of battlers should look through the haze across the Tasman for inspiration from our neighbours.

Bruce Martin: he's old, he's unfashionable and I wish he was Australian.

Bruce Martin: he’s old, he’s unfashionable and I wish he was Australian.

Cast your mind back. Remember the dense funk of doom that was perched on the door of New Zealand Test cricket just a few months ago?

It was the greatest drama to come out of the Shaky Isles since Outrageous Fortune, when the Ross Taylor fiasco meshed together with the unspeakable horror of repeated clobberings in South Africa.

Many claimed the game in its longer form in New Zealand had begun the process of a slow death by self-combustion, a demise theory that grew further legs upon the sparking-up of Martin Crowe’s blazer by it’s owner.

It seemed another collapse or innings loss and the team would’ve folded in on itself. Time to close up shop and just concentrate on one-dayers and rugby.

But now as their arm-wrestle series with second-ranked England moves into a decider at Eden Park, it looks as though a hardy nucleus of Black Caps is slowly germinating that should mean things aren’t going to be as dire in the future for our cousins as once predicted.

So far against the might of a world class English outfit, there’s been the unearthing of ‘Son of K-Ruth’ Hamish Rutherford, the reliable blue-collar slog of in-to-the-wind donkey Neil Wagner and the guile of honest offie Bruce Martin, the latter a man who has thoroughly out-bowled his slow-bowling adversary Monty Panesar in this series, and who at 32 appears to have at least another 18 months of straight-breaking nudes in him before the torturous symptoms of arthritis take hold.

Plus new skipper Brendon McCullum has sprung back to his bright and breezy best after a pair of high-octane knocks, both which should help to kick-start the dissolution of the ugly memories of his ironclad alliance to BFF and coach Mike Hesson throughout the Taylor saga.

Add to this the further rise in reputation of Kane Williamson and BJ Watling, Taylor’s recalibration into the team environment and the eventual return of Martin Guptill, and Kiwi fans are beginning to be able to watch their team bat again without the need for covering their eyes in fear.

Sure, these newly-cleared skies for New Zealand may be clouded by the fact there has been some dozy wickets, a standard dosage of precipitation and some sloppy sessions of trade from Alastair Cook’s men, but we shouldn’t let facts get in the way of a feel good story, especially if it’s helping a sad Aussie out of a rut of dejection.

The main point here is that McCullum’s men are beginning to emerge out the other side of one of the game’s ruinous storms by showing the ticker and talent to prove they don’t belong in the Test dump.

England’s mighty Test outfit may flex their considerable muscle and pinch the decider in Auckland this weekend, but nonetheless the Kiwis should be happy with their progress. There’s clear air beginning to take over that crudely pungent stench of recycled Old El Paso that was around before.

Take note, nay saying stone-kicking Australians. Let this light your fire of belief!

Or if you prefer, we can always just jump on the Black Cap bandwagon.

Dead coaches walking

The start of the NRL season is supposed to be a spectacular detonation of exhilaration and engrossment that results from the combination of various beefs from both on field and off.

With most players clearly on horse drugs, explosive knee-jerk sackings at administration level and indecisive young men everywhere struggling to keep their word on contract deals, it appears that the 2013 model is no different.

Quimby's stint at the Sharks lower grades was forgettable.

Quimby’s stint at the Sharks lower grades was forgettable.

Everyone seems seduced by the infectious fervour of the game, with even some players so fiercely committed to the cause that they have given up beer in exchange for lower-carb fruit fluids, as well as subjecting themselves to additional altitude training sessions whilst at home.

However, for a fan base used to the feeling of being gorged on footy’s fruits, too many laughs at platinum blonde footballers is never enough to fill the belly entirely, and luckily for us all there is a deeply treasured period of the season fast approaching to ensure the belts on our pants will be bursting in no time.

It’s that time of year when knives sharpen, boards give full support and the thickest bold setting is called upon for the cruellest sledgehammer headlines.

Yesiree you bloodthirsty gallery of schadenfreude savourers, it’s time for some good old fashioned gratuitous rugby league pressure-heaping on those suckers stupid enough to run a team.

It’s the coaches. The punching bags. The spittle trays. So relied upon, yet so expendable.

The poor sods are mistreated, unappreciated and there for our entertainment. I don’t know if they read their employment agreements, but when they take the job, they waive the right to receive a balanced and reasonable critiquing at any point in their tenure.

And it’s our job to smash that crap out of that loophole.

In my eyes, two arduous rounds of biff is more than enough evidence to make rude predictions on a man’s income source, so let’s beat Rothfield and his cronies to the punch by blatantly pasturing from the feedbag of lowbrow

Price: an uncontrollable barrel of pure hilarity.

Price: an uncontrollable barrel of pure hilarity.

sensationalism and go on the record with our predictions for the big sufferers of 2013.

My picks for an early contract payout form a tired and battered trio of the burdened that I believe have already taken on the appearance of a highly pressured Mayor Quimby surrounded in flames.

It might be safe to say this. Gents, have your desks packed up by noon, and return any company stationery to the receptionist, including that butter knife that’s lodged between your shoulder blades.

David Furner

Some may say this choice is mildly cray cray, but one must remember that the Capital’s Don was perilously close to forced free agency last year before his squad rallied for a two-month period of lime green flashiness.

Furner delivers a bona fide stink-eye.

Furner delivers a bona fide stink-eye.

On Sunday against the Titans, his team looked as porous as a rotting fish net. He’s also down an attacking trump with the cutting loose of Josh Dugan and up a headache with the second chance given to Blake Ferguson.

Whatever happens, Furner scores highly for his attempt at the ‘conventional cranky dad’ method of conflict resolution after driving to the sacked fullback’s house to deliver a voracious verbal dressing-down. If he has a daughter, don’t date her.

Could survive a cull if he times his next poor run of form with the Federal Election.

Steve Price

Anyone who backfills a spot left vacant by Wayne Bennett is always going to be on a hiding to nothing, but Price’s level of popularity has further glaciated to Mel Gibson temperatures. Just go by the demeanour of the playing group, who seem to be at concealed gunpoint when they tell the media they have the utmost confidence in his philosophies, and Peter Doust, who makes kissy-lips at anything with a clipboard and a heartbeat.

The poor fella is still cranky like 2012 and in need of some enlightenment. Perhaps he should develop a comedy routine to help counter his downtrodden public persona? If he needs material, he could do worse than by starting at one of his own training sessions.

His team are in severe need of some Ben Cousin-like expertise in finding the line, and if this doesn’t change soon, then I think he will need Centrelink to help find him a job.

Elliott: 'What are these 'tries' of which you speak?'

Elliott: ‘What are these ‘tries’ of which you speak?’

Matt Elliott

This guy is a deadset larrikin with the glass half-full mentality. It’s a convenient disposition, because he’s probably going to have to smile for a press conference that is held at the wake for his career at some point this year.

The playing group made it perfectly clear last year that their preferred coach was Tony Iro and that anyone else could go and get stuffed, especially Australians. The smiley former Panthers coach was unwelcome upon appointment, and going by the two 80 minute protests staged by his players so far this year, it seems this hasn’t changed.

To see out the season, he probably needs one of those Tony Iro masks, a Stacey Jones comeback and/or a magic wand and a minor miracle.

Would be advisable to dig out the hangman’s tie if he still has it.

 

Footy’s individualism: killed by power-hungry suits

Let’s face it. Unless you are a cold-hearted gold digger, clean-cut smarmy types clothed in Italian suits with excess cash spilling out of their pockets have never been high on the greetings card list.

With their sickening charisma, unsettling corporate smarts and immaculate hair like a young Michael Douglas, you know they’ll steal your girlfriend and sue you twice before the dessert’s even been ordered.

Unfortunately, with the advancement of sport in to an era of professionalism, these businessmen are on every corner amongst the territory of boofy footy codes that we blue-collar oafs used to claim as our own.

The gilded buggers and their Saabs are a necessary evil in the day-to-day running of sports business now we’ve all twigged that money is important for buying goalposts, so their big words, clean teeth and uncanny ability to hypnotise with long sentences have all become part of the furniture whether you like it or not.

Up until now, they’ve known their place, meaning a calm but uneasy truce has remained. They would collect their bulging cheques provided they learned basic footy vernacular, posed for an awkward photo or two, handed over the trophies when required and feigned interest in the game, while always staying the hell away from the leather and letting the players do their thaaaaang.

As for playing bad cop when the necessity arose?

The game’s history made that a cinch for them.

When the players stepped out of line, bar the odd firearm possession charge or clandestine affair with a team mate’s wife, they would respect the working class values of the game by using the ‘boys will be boys’ approach to spanking those who have breached with a ball of cotton wool.

Dugan and his ill-fated night on the tiles.

Dugan and his ill-fated night on the tiles.

It was too easy. Look cranky for the Daily Telegraph, hand out a suspended fine, a few games off and a forced public apology, which they would usually pen themselves for the kid anyway, and within a few weeks it was forgotten and everyone was happy.

It was a simple agreement that maintained the balance of power between paymaster and drone in the world of local sports.

But not anymore.

Over the last few weeks, the all-powerful defenders of the bottom line have ripped off their shirts, flexed their pipes and then pummelled any individual within their organisation that is considered even mildly rogue, confirming their dark and evil side that we’ve all suspected has lurked dormant within.

Making it worse, this recent outbreak of brutality has been caused by a handful of two-bit misdemeanours that Warney would’ve performed on his ear in a drinks break amidst the spice of the transitional 1990s.

It started at Collingwood, where Dane Swan was fined by the head honchos for the unspeakable act of engaging in unauthorised palaver, before the clamps were really tightened with Travis Cloke’s docking of pay for parking his rig in the CEO’s spot.

The office power-playing continued in Queensland, where the Reds stood down Digby Ioane after he was allegedly found lingering on the outer fringes of a messy melee of beefy blokes, which to me sounds exactly like being three passes off a scrum, the exact thing which he is paid to do.

And in Canberra, what else was a tired, injured and thirsty Josh Dugan supposed to do?

When Generation-Y has a session around a pumping Akai listening to the iconic tunes of their era, ‘the roof is on fire’ means you are obligated under the rules of popular culture to climb up there with a fizzy pre-mix and check it out, otherwise you may be at risk of letting ‘the motherf*cker burn.’

Doesn’t Don Furner understand the basics of contemporary existence?

And geeeez, what about the iron fisting that was the exploding septic tank of Homeworkgate?

Don’t go there, sisters.

It seems that suits and ties have taken it upon themselves to move the disciplinary goalposts, and it’s killing the spirit of individualism in the footy codes.

Regardless of the magnitude of the indiscretion, the level of public reaction, or if the indiscretion was actually an indiscretion, the big dogs are coming down on whoever is found at the scene in their colours. And with added tax lumped on top of the wrist-slap.

Remember the good old days when Ken Arthurson would let you keep your job, even though you were spotted outside of the Empire Hotel looking like a statue because you were plastered to the ground by the stiffness of your own dried vomit?

Well footballers, if this week is a sign of the future, then those good old days of wholesome chunder-fun in the public eye are long gone.

Top office tyranny has slowly grown to disgracefully powerful levels and it’s eroding the characters in sport.

Someone please stop the rot by making a recently retired and heavily concussed front-rower the club chairman immediately.

Or just fast track Tony Zappia or John Elias on to the board of your club.

Debating #Homeworkgate

Let’s get to the bottom of the week’s hottest topic. No, it’s not the colour of rising smoke from the conclave, it’s cricketers gone wild-ish in India. Paddy from Warming the Pine knuckles-on with myself to decide who’s reputation stinks most after a turbulent week in the Baggy Green.

PADDY: Dane, since I’ve really just got nothing else going on in my life, I thought I would use my overburdening amount of extra time to fire off brainfarts of cricketing wisdom in your direction, in the hope that you would misguidedly respond to such a haranguing.

The topic, you ask? Well, realistically, what other topic is there? #Homeworkgate has been on every person’s lips, text messages, email flirtations and inane twittering for the past 72 hours, so I thought a discussion of exactly how right Cricket Australia were to do what they did was in order.

In my view, being the sycophantic Michael Clarke fanboy that I am, Mickey Arthur and the other faceless men behind the removal of our best quick bowler, best non-bowling all-rounder, best left-handed batting prospect and best left-handed bowler who can’t hit the pitch, got their decision spot on. It reminds me of the people who got rid of Kevin Rudd. True visionaries. Realistically, they’ve only got the best interest of the party, ahem, I mean cricket team at heart.

Four blokes. One baby. No brains.

Four blokes. One baby. No brains.

And now I hear that our vice-captain’s gone and sooked off home to “see the birth of his first child.” The number of times I’ve used that excuse to brush off my girlfriend’s family dinners! Good one Shane! Surely it’s time for the faceless men, along with Australian cricket’s Swan and Gillard to send Shane Watson to the back bench?
DANE: Ahhhhh Paddy old pal, I was awaiting this call. I knew #Homeworkgate would come a-knockin’ at some point, and now here it is to disrupt my application for status as a New Zealand citizen. Let me put down my Steinlager and reply to your maniacal points of view.

With all of the caterwauling and burning effigies around, I believe that it’s important to be level-headed about this whole thing.

What we have witnessed this week is the ugly manifestation of an Australian cricket administration locked in the vicious throes of emo-like self-harm. There, I said it. Cricket Australia is cutting itself while wearing eye-liner.

It’s been mega-fugly so far in India, but Test axings for homework makes it official; the Aussie game is dying a laughable death, and the residents of earth are staring and pointing as they capture the whole sordid episode on their smart phones, ready for upload to YouTube or Cricket’s Funniest Home Videos at any time.

Frankly sir, I’m flabbergasted that you can see a silver lining in the actions of Adolf Arthur and his chalk-clutching iron fist. However, I do agree with your comparison of Cricket Australia to the diabolical Labor Party; both joints stink to the back teeth, and it’s all thanks to those inside it’s rotting carcass.

And as for Shane Watson, he should’ve been chaired out of Sydney airport this week like the God he is for standing up to this heinous attempt by upper management to establish a fascist regime by clerical means. If this game is going to get up off the canvas in this country, his stoic fight against the machine makes him the obvious face of the team’s much-needed revolution. The board needs to lance this latest festering boil immediately by making him captain and shipping Mickey Arthur to the mail room, where the coach can really ensconce himself in A4.

I’m hoping your love for this whacky decision-making doesn’t extend to include Pat Howard too. There was no concussion rule in rugby in his playing days, is this the reason for his loose-lipped fire-starting after the news broke?

Dane, I see you’ve been sucked into the player power route too huh? I thought the last of the adherents to this foul doctrine were routed when the Brumbies’ revolution was quashed. But here we stand.

Arthur: evil genius or closet teacher's aid? Or just an arsehole?

Arthur: evil genius or closet teacher’s aid? Or just an arsehole?

Have you been watching the floundering flop Shane Watson has become with the willow? And now you want to raise the chap on a pedestal? He’s been given every opportunity there is by Clarke and Arthur, and right now Australia deserves better then two centuries in 40 games. When Shane Watson proves his bat can be as fertile as his loins then I’ll let him go attend his little hospital session.

Speaking of high, how high must have Shane and the rest of them been not to simply chalk down three points on a post-it note and stick it on someone’s door, signing “love Shane” or “Mickey, I think you’re really nice and very handsome,” or some pleasant touch like that? Instead, we have him spitting drivel about “accepting his punishment.” Nasty, nasty stuff.

Why does he have to shirk a simple task then shirk his responsibility to his comrades in arms by jetting when things don’t go his way?

Let’s not forget, Dane, players are dispensable. A disciplined coach and a headstrong captain is what we need to nurse our baby boys through to cricket adulthood. “Talent” is a misnomer. Attitude will take you further than talent ever could. Ask Warney. Or Brian Lara.

As for Pat Howard… We all know that he is single-handedly reshaping the Australian and international sporting landscape. His media performances are simply sublime. Telling journos he’ll take them through the details, then instantly retracting that? Genius! Suck on that, journos. No story here!

I know for a fact that Cricket Australia’s rotation policy, combined with this new homework policy, is the best thing we’ve got to show for ourselves at the moment. I hear the Icelandic curling team have already begun to institute a homework regime and learning syllabus, and the Finnish wife-carrying squad have been dabbling in rotating their carriers and their wives. It’s caused some relationship damage, sure, but wives and kids, like players, come and go.

And Dane, let’s not overreact and call comrade Mickey Arthur a fascist. He’s a man of the people, just like Michael Clarke. I have no doubt whatsoever that they know what’s best for themselves, everyone in the team, and probably you and I for that matter. This point was made very clear by James Pattinson in an interview he recorded where he completely endorsed Cricket Australia’s action. I forget the name of the media company and journalist who interviewed him unfortunately, otherwise I’d point you in the right direction…

You know what, Paddy? You’re bloody spot-on. That was a wonderfully authentic outpouring of purely personal thoughts from James Pattinson after he was jettisoned. In fact, it was eerily similar to some of the totally natural statements that used to be made in the 1980s ventriloquist craze by the smart-arse comedian Chuck Wood, a doll made of rare oak who like James was also honest, unhindered in opinion and 100% controlled by his master, lest he be made to sleep near a circular saw. Whether or not James also had a hand up his back at the time of the press conference is another matter altogether and totally unrelated to cricket, and I’ll leave that to those with surplus time and dirty minds to look in to further if they wish.

Either way, I’m sure the piercing sound of my warning whistle is now obvious. It’s definitely time to panic people, as our national team is now firmly in the grips of a regime that has begun with homework and will end with all of our players pissing off to England like half of South Africa has. Pattinson was forced to forego his true feelings about spewing deluxe in exchange for unabashed praise for his puppet-master’s supposedly superior thinking, lest he be made to sleep near a circular saw and/or the lively vege-lined bowels of Peter Siddle. Or if the truth is important, just made to miss a Test match.

That, my friends, is a garden variety reign of terror!

As for Watson’s captaincy prospects… OK, much like most weekdays and whenever I’m on the keyboard, I may have been mixing antibiotics with Kahlua this morning. But just for a fleeting moment, think of my crazy claim in this fashion. 

Wouldn’t you like a bloke in charge who doesn’t have a pool room wall adorned with ‘kills’ wearing Baggy Greens? Clarke may have 1200% more Test centuries than his 2IC, but he also has the dead careers of Simon Katich, Andrew Symonds and Mike Hussey hanging up like stuffed bison next to his cue rack, which is not only an outdated interior decoration, but also bloody frightening for kids and drunks alike.

For some reason, Clarke just shits people. And nowadays, he has the power to make those who are shitted by him totally disappear. Abracadabra and voila! There goes that hindrance back to Shield cricket. 

So if we are going to be run by an evil essay-obsessed South African who is masterminding for total domination of our game, then we might as well appoint a captain who can be endured by those around him for longer than seven consecutive minutes at a time. It’s a nice juxtaposition, and really, no business can survive with too many a-holes at the apex.

Does it make sense? Good. Now if you don’t mind me, I’m off to buy some pens. I’ve got a net session this afternoon.

Dane, you and your Howard-bashing have really upset me. In fact this debate has ruined my whole bath. I’m going to go towel myself like they do in the shampoo ads. Ciao!

Fleeing the scene like a common Watson. Have you knocked someone up?

 

For more insightful insights, log your log on to @warmingthepine and/or @playup_roosters. NOW.

Australia’s solution? Stuff the future.

Beg, steal or borrow anything that packs a diversionary punch and clutch it tight for the next three weeks.

The rest of Australia’s tour of India promises to be grievously nasty viewing, so unless you enjoy an existence paralysed by huff spasms similar to an AFL chief defending a rotation cap rule, you better get down to some serious Sudoku and/or partner reconciliation before the horror resumes on the 14th March.

From a batting perspective, this depressing trip around the subcontinent is now a certified smoking ruin, much like the bowling, fielding and wicketkeeping side of things. There’s no point in watching the remaining fragments crumble, nor reflect on the horrid funk and mess that has developed thus far.

So to kick-start the boost back to full coast-to-coast health, we must lop off the whole cancerous episode from our memory, lest our treasured national identity as committed fans of a commendable cricketing bully fades to new lows. If it hasn’t already. Which it has.

It’s at this point that we must give thanks to the BCCI’s hoarding of access to the game it rightfully owns, appreciate the difficulty of tracking the last two matches in the series and follow Julia’s one-time mantra of ‘moving forward’ so we can return to a secured state of sedation, a place which can only be found a billion nautical miles away from this horrific tour where it’s images and memories can’t harm us any more.

So to complete the last step in my Home Brand mental cleansing, we look ahead to England.

Currently there’s a total lack of opinion and debate on what Australia needs to do to clean up it’s act with the troubled willow before we shoot off to the Motherland, so here is my two quid on the way out of the moist and rotting pile of sink hair we have found ourselves in.

Chris Rogers: you could do worse.

Chris Rogers: you could do worse.

A fresh direction is required and this is the answer. In a total about-face on my regurgitation of a Gillardism, I say this to the selectors: whatever you do, don’t look forward.

Give youth the flick for the Ashes. Live in the now and stuff the future.

Stiffen the Australian top six by transforming it into a halfway house between the life-deciding confusion of the early thirties and the haunting day-to-day reality of the workaday forties. Don’t look at anything that is unable to recognise Daryl Somers and Ossie, forget the long-term health of the team and think only about the present by embracing the abilities of today’s mature and elderly.

That’s right, Australian cricket has to ferry a battle-hardened bunch of old boys to England and stem the flow of wickets with a big grey plug of experience. Send the dandelion-weakness of your Hugheses, Cowans, Warners, Wades and Maxwells back to concrete college and backfill with some thirtysomething patriarch power.

It’s short sighted. It’s mental. It’s unheard of. It’s probably really stupid. But you can’t deny it has a chance of working out more favourably than what we’ve got at the moment.

Coke-bottled Chris Rogers has had a blinding Shield season, so give him one of the opener’s positions. Galvanise the middle order with some balding domestic Pops in the form of Adam Voges and George Bailey, and if Glenn Maxwell can be passed off as a Test spinner because he can apparently bat, then why not give a chance to a calcified version with proven ability like David Hussey?

In a perfect world, I would implore the powers to coax his brother Mike out of retirement too, but I feel that kind of radical suggestion would just make this piece seem silly.

Any Huss will do. We are that desperate.

Any Huss will do. We are that desperate.

While we are stocking up on the weathered, let’s lump for a reliable wicketkeeper who competently catches deliveries that have passed by the batsman on strike. With seven first class centuries and hands trained to prevent cricket balls from coming in to contact with grass, let’s give Chris Hartley a boarding pass.

Think I’m on the crazy seeds? Then consider this.

If further rope is fed to the pack of jittery youngsters that we’ve taken to India, Australia could well be coming in to the Boxing Day Test with an overall 8-0 deficit and a generation of bats forever scarred beyond repair by the evils of conventional swing and spin bowling. With some disposable older fellows, comfortable in their own skin, in full knowledge of their limitations and with eons of know-how in dealing with domestic attacks and the failure of previous repeated non-selection, we could limit that deficit to around 3-0, thus saving face and making it safe to leave our houses again.

It makes sense.

Leave the young blokes at home, safe from the public stoning of a failed Ashes campaign, where they can ready themselves to make progress against the next defenceless minnow on the cosiness of our non-turning and bouncy home wickets.

Get in the old blokes, who may know the right end of a cricket bat.

This twin-series mission to slowly graft our way back to a reasonable level of credibility with a bunch of enthusiastic elders would be just like the loveable smash movie ‘Space Cowboys,’ an uplifting story about some reborn steamers lead on a journey by Clint Eastwood which I vaguely recall concludes with them winning back an urn of charred stumps in a cricket match against England.

See the connection?

And a tour of duty for a Dad’s army outfit would be the perfect opportunity to introduce Darren Lehmann as new coach. It just fits right.

Problem solved. Australia, you can thank me later.

Spray’n’Pine collide to preview the Hyderabad Test

Some say that when two strongholds of intraweb sporting opinion meet, they usually question what each want before one asks the other to piss off because they are in the middle of eating tea.

However, once tucker time is over and the washing up is finished, the respective brains combine forces to bring you, their smallish-sized readership, some of the greatest insights and LOLs you will ever witness in your electronic existence.

That’s what’s going down all up in this ‘hood right about now. Stand, Spray and Deliver has entered in to an agreement of cross-site chinwag with none other than Paddy from blog sensation Warming the Pine, and what better way to smash the champagne on the ship’s bow by getting down to the nitty gritty of Australia’s so-far doomed tour of India. Here I interrogate WTP’s Paddy for the downlow from the subcontinent.

‘My fellow alcoholic, I’m sure you will agree that Australia need changes for the second test. Will another spinner join the cotton soft-turning forces of Nathan Lyon? When will Warney throw his name up?’

“Well, it’s interesting you say that, because my fortune cookie this morning (leftovers for brekky, you understand) had an interesting foretelling for me: “Shane Warne will play in the Hyderabad Test.

Now aside from this cookie obviously being manufactured in India, a deliberate travesty which goes against every bit of my foodie fibre, I was appalled that it would be so bold to suggest that old man Warne would be up to the rigours of Test cricket. Sure, he’s got form behind the microphone, but the fact that he’s dropping more dollies than a three year-old girl in a toyshop suggests to me that we might have to look past Warne’s well-grazed pastures.

I think realistically we’ve done enough looking to the right of centre. Options must be explored. Graves must be dug up. Incantations must be muttered. Or we could just nationalise some of our opponent’s own; spinners who have been spurned by the BCCI more than an Aussie journalist. Murali Karthik and Pragyan Ohja come to mind. From what I hear they’re hankering to be true blue.”

‘Sounds like it’s time to clear the red tape from the immigration department then. Speaking of the spurned, Moises Henriques has been regularly run out of Sydney by angry mobs in the past. Will he now be excused from such pitchfork-waving and can we safely assume that Shane Watson’s lock on the all-rounder’s spot is now gone like Ricky Ponting’s real hair?’

“He did play well in Chennai.

Now that’s out of the way, can we just peer in from the outside from the moment and discuss the furore over a couple of half tons? Forget the fact that his bowling was as threatening as a Quade Cooper tackle. And now they’re talking about giving him an Aussie contract worth a couple of hundred thousand clams? Call me a wowser, traditionalist, dangerous sexual deviant, it doesn’t really bother me, but the last time I checked an all-rounder had to be able to do two things, and you can’t count catching regulation balls at short cover as one of them.

When he’s skittled a few Indians, or at least looked like somewhat unnerving an increasingly blind Tendulkar, you can get back to me. Until then, give me a pitchfork and I’ll stand guard at the airport.

As for Watto… Let’s just say that reentering the bowling fraternity is a lot harder than leaving it. He knows what he’s done.”

‘Let’s talk enhancements. I know dodgy supplements are kinda on-the-nose at present, but would it be too much to ask to have a Bulgarian scientist magically clone Michael Clarke?’

“It simply wouldn’t, and I hear Romania are doing wonderful things in this area as well and they are another avenue well worth exploring.

There is one thing that we should consider, however, and that’s the number of Australian men and women who would turn homosexual as a result. Many, many men, including myself, would probably go gay if they knew that they had not one chance, but say eight chances, of being with a clone of Michael Clarke. I assume that the cloning process would also yield some female Clarkes, so that explains the increase in Lesbianism.

I suppose there might be an issue with being with a clone in respect to the authenticity of the experience. Sure, it’s not the original, but neither’s Heinz tomato soup I’m told, and that stuff’s still pretty delicious. I’d probably go gay for a Michael Clarke clone.

Sorry, what was the question again?”

‘We’ll move forward. In a shocking case of workplace bias, James Pattinson was allowed longer smokos in the first innings compared to his fellow quicks. How long will this scientific shizen continue to influence Clarke’s game plan?’

“James Pattinson ain’t no slave to science. He’s a slave to one man and one man only, James Pattinson. He’s probably the only guy in sport who can get away with referring to himself in the third person. If he’s the only guy who can take wickets, then I say he’s earned it.

As far as I’m concerned, what James Pattinson wants James Pattinson gets. He’s an Australian fast bowler for heaven’s sake, and the more beers he can swill, the more durries he can puff, the more he can tell his own captain to go shove it, the better it will be for Australian cricket. Clarke is a batsman after all, and if there’s one thing that James Pattinson hates more than unresponsive Indian wickets, it’s batsmen. Which is why he’s still able to take wickets on painted sand.

After all Clarke is a dirty, dirty batsman. He’s so dirty he’s the best of all batsmen right now. James Pattinson hates batsmen. You do the deduction.”

‘More Marlboros for Patto it is. And finally, do you give Australia any chance at all on what is sure to be another beach of a wicket in Hyderabad? And if so, which Indian player will most likely be on the take?’

“So long as Pattinson isn’t rested, Clarke is still the best player in the world, they pick two spinners, they don’t jump the gun on Henriques and tell him his faeces smell like lavender and the rest of the team PULL THEIR FUCKING SOCKS UP, yes, I give us a glimmer of hope.

The curator at Hyderabad has already started the mind-games, however, and said that there will be a bit in it for the quicks early. If this results in our selectors blindly resubmitting the same teamsheet as the last game I believe they will have to be taken out the back and shot. Except Clarke of course, he can stay, but his rank sleeve tatts will have to be taken out the back and shot.

But I will offer the Aussies a piece of advice my great uncle Herb used to give me after a schooner or two of Drambuie: “Paddy, those Indians will probably smoke us in the 2013 tour, so don’t get your hopes up.”

He truly was a sage.”

“Paddy my man, YOU are the sage. Thanks for your time sir!”

Ladies and gents, it has been proven beyond doubt. Great sports chat is not confined only to this humble site, it can also be found at Paddy’s fantabulum wonderpalace known as WarmingthePine.wordpress.com or on his pants-pissing Twitter account @WarmingthePine.

But don’t bother looking anywhere else, as these are the only two places on the internet that such quality can be located.

Warming the Pine

Sport for those with comfortable couches.