Notes from the pavilion for October 27th

Spinning Murali

The Australian Prime Minister, John Howard, is in the middle of an election campaign at the moment and I have just stumbled across a bloody good piece from Mike Ticher at The Guardian. Howard is a raging cricket fan and, like any dirty politician, attempts to misuse it to his advantage. Man of the people, and all that, when he quite clearly isn’t.

Howard’s application of clunky cricket analogies to politics is as elegant as his bowling action. In the last election he claimed at one point his Liberal Party was “three for about 268 [in the campaign] but the right-hand opener is still there.” This time it needs several hundred to avoid the follow-on, and is wishing it had dropped the right-hand opener before the series started.

Superb. But it gets better. Who’s coming to town? That’s right! Muttiah Muralitharan.

Murali has two Tests before the election in which to snare the nine wickets he needs to overhaul Shane Warne as the leading Test wicket-taker. Howard has form. The last time Sri Lanka visited, in 2004, he was instrumental in Murali’s refusal to tour, when he branded the spinner a chucker with the words: “They proved it in Perth too, with that thing.” That thing, to be more technical, was the biomechanics test that showed Murali straightened his arm to an extent that was then illegal when bowling the doosra.

Howard might have to bend the truth by only about, say, 14 degrees, to whip up a wave of anti-Murali sentiment. It is an edgy time. The visitors have already had anxious meetings about likely crowd reactions, and plain-clothes police are to be deployed inconspicuously (presumably dressed in body paint and watermelon helmets) to weed out the kind of troublemakers who have targeted Murali in the past.

If Howard could only harness that sentiment, then hold up Warne as the iconic national figure who represents everything good about Australia . . . no, you’re right, he’s a goner.

A cracking read.

Notes from the pavilion for October 20th

Links of note from the past 24 hours:

A cricketing future for John Howard?

The always enjoyable Spectator blog says John Howard’s tenure as Australia’s Prime Minister is coming to an end, if the (surprisingly reliable) opinion polls are anything to go by. Howard’s a self-confessed cricket nutter so what, if anything, will he do for the sport when his political career ends?

Howard feeds his addiction

Ah, John Howard. Rarely does a week go by, seemingly, in which “cricket” isn’t uttered by the self-confessed addict. And yesterday it was revealed he spent AUD$90,000 during his time in London last year to go to the cricket. Now, Australian readers will grab the Corridor shaped voodoo doll when I say this, but sod it: it must be brilliant to have a PM that loves cricket.

John Howard and Steve Waugh

Ours – for all his good points – doesn’t like the game. Ha! Actually, he does like it, but the New Labour dictatorship, brewed in 1997 and currently resting in a Tuppawear container in Gordon Brown’s apartment above Number 10, decided football was far too cool to ignore. And so it was that our Tony chose the “beautiful” game over the five-day drinkathon, otherwise known as cricket.

I thought I’d mentioned this before, that Tony was a closet-cricket fan, but alas couldn’t find it.

Anyway, have a look at Johnnie Howard’s expenses:

JOHN Howard and his entourage spent more than $90,000 on accommodation and meals in a four-night stay at one of London’s most exclusive hotels.

The visit last July, which included two visits to Lord’s for the Ashes Test cricket series, was part of a 10-day trip in which the Prime Minister visited his fellow Iraq war leaders, British Prime Minister Tony Blair and the US President, George W.Bush.Documents obtained under Freedom of Information laws show the trip cost taxpayers $613,947.57, or $61,314 a day.

Cricketers raise massive $14m dollars

A great day for Cricket, for cricketers of different countries to come together for charity. I don’t know why we can’t have this more often – perhaps I’ll write a letter to the ICC & ECB and see if they’re thinking about it.

  • It would promote the game incredibly
  • A great spectacle for cricket fans, and new to cricket
  • Stacks of money raised for charity
  • The distant possibility of one day Murali and Warne playing on the same team :)

Wonderful image here of Ponting and (who?) and presumeably a victim of the Tsunami. If any Aussies are reading, any chance of scanning a larger copy of the front page of the Melbourne Herald Sun? Would love to see it in more detail.

This is a great photo, courtesy of the BBC, of Daniel Vettori and Billy Bowden trying out some new moves!

And some very thoughtful, poignant quotes:

  • “Australia’s Prime Minister John Howard, a cricket fanatic of the highest order, said the game showed the sport’s “sense of social responsibility.””
  • The world of cricket is generally not one to be hurried but this game was organised in just 12 days.
  • Wendy, a shop assistant from the town of Bannockburn in Victoria, had bought a ticket just to “see Warnie in the flesh.”
  • Wendy was far from surprised at how quickly the locals had embraced cricket’s aid efforts.

    “The people here are sport mad,” she said. “Big events are absolutely their second love after beer.”