Monday, June 25, 2007

Nostalgia

...and over on channel 4, paint drying.


Ahh, it ain't what it used to be. Arf. As the West Indies gear up for another go, having been thoroughly trounced in the Test series I’ve been a bit surprised at the tone of the press coverage (particularly in the Guardian, unsurprisingly). A strong West Indian team is a great bonus for international cricket. A team as weak as the current lot does nobody any favours whatsoever. At best, they have one player who could have competed for a place in the side of the 1970s and 1980s, the obdurate and organised Shivnarine Chanderpaul – and even he is about as far removed from the swashbuckling big hitters of old as it’s possible to get.

England, in contrast, are confirming what they are: the second best team in the world. With Alistair Cook, Michael Vaughan and Kevin Pieterson, England have three of the world’s best batsmen; Matt Prior has solved the wicket-keeping problem; England have, in Monty Panesar, the world’s best orthodox finger spinner; and the fast bowling cupboard is less bare than we might have feared. England made the West Indies look even worse than they were – and that’s not easy.So why all the regretful nostalgia about days gone by? England have a consistently world-beating side in Test match cricket for the first time since the 1950s. The batting is explosive and elegant at the same time; we have a top-ten spinner for the first time since Derek Underwood and with Hoggard and Harmison we have a new ball attack that is actually capable of doing damage.

I see the point of articles like this, recalling Tony Greig’s ill-judged call to make the West Indies grovel, but frankly I’d rather be an England supporter now, when the main excitement is whether Pieterson can make a hundred in a session, not whether Sir Geoffrey can make it out of single figures.

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