Dash off and away

It has been a disastrous day for the hyphen. Nearly 16,000 of them have been cast into oblivion by the Shorter Oxford English Dictionary, according to the BBC.

The sixth edition of the Shorter Oxford English Dictionary has knocked the hyphens out of 16,000 words, many of them two-word compound nouns. Fig-leaf is now fig leaf, pot-belly is now pot belly, pigeon-hole has finally achieved one word status as pigeonhole and leap-frog is feeling whole again as leapfrog.

“So this is what it’s like to be English”

The Australian paper The Age today has perhaps the most interesting and thought provoking article about Australia’s problems at the moment.

In it, it is said Richie Benaud has already forecast defeat for the Australians – as has Christopher Martin-Jenkins who, frankly, isn’t known for his early forecasts:

Australia may have retrieved some ground after their humiliation against Bangladesh, but if Harmison bowls as fast and rhythmically as he did yesterday, England will win the Ashes.

Blimey. This is what I feared, and probably what Vaughan fears: over confidence by English media. Yes, of course they’ve every reason to feel pleased with their team’s performances so far. Yes, Australia have underperformed but, as The Age is keen to mention, “We are only two weeks into a 14-week tour and the first Test is a month away.”

The following part of the article drew me in most, though:

ances before losing the series in 1995. The question is no longer whether Australia is too dominant for the good of cricket (and Bangladesh’s win was good for world cricket). Instead, Australians in England are enduring an uncomfortable role reversal; they are feeling what it is like to have been an Englishman in Australia for the past 16 years. It must be hoped that the Australians can restore discipline, shake off the rust (any complacency is surely gone) and take advantage of a kind itinerary to find form before the Tests. The past week has offered a sobering foretaste of what losing the Ashes would be like.

I think therein lies the elation for the English in the past week: Australia, this is what it feels like, and aint it nasty? The clouds of pain and humiliation of years of Ashes defeats have been lifted in a week of sunshine and victory. But I don’t subscribe to Benaud or CMJ’s views about the Test series, yet; all this week has demonstrated is England are a force, and are making Australia take notice. Nothing more, nothing less.

Duncan Fletcher: wanted man

There’s been a bit of speculation recently as to whether Duncan Fletcher will stay as coach of England or not. And, given his success (yes ok – he’s no John Buchanan, but he’s done bloody well for England), England are desperate for him to stay. Personally I think an Ashes loss will be the final nail in the coffin for him. Last summer there were rumours flying around that he wanted to write his memoirs: I’d love to read them, Duncan, but not for another 5 years please…