*Sigh*. England. Why are they ever thus? They win a couple of unimportant matches and all of a sudden they're World Champion Contenders.
The leading story on the smh website at the moment is an article by Scyld Berry, accompanied by a photo of Ricky Ponting in his best "Dubya" pose, with "Worried Man... Ricky Ponting" as the caption. Oh sure. I BET he's worried. Because after all, England have done SO well, lately, haven't they?
I was a little taken aback by the tone of the article, given that it's in the smh, until I finished it and saw "The Telegraph, London" as its source. So I went to The Telegraph website and found this, as well. Apparently Symonds was only getting his come-uppance when Harbhajan "called" him a monkey! Take that, boy! And back to the plantation where you belong.... I fail to see how you can hedge your bets on what was said and what wasn't, and then use it as justification for the behaviour. "We don't know what was said!! But he deserved it, either way!!!" Honestly. I expected better from a broadsheet. The first of the comments says it all - this is the sort of one-eyed, gutter journalism that England are reknowned for.
Let's examine the facts of England's so-called resurgance, shall we?
England are in rude health, to quote Berry in the Telegraph/smh. Riiiight. They lost this summer's Test series, their most successful captain ever, and their second in five years. Their new captain has won a dead-rubber Test, and the one-dayers against a depleted RSA side. Before that, they've lost home and away series pretty consistently since THAT 2005 series, and have basically been pretty ordinary for a long time. And what does precedence tell us about the side they've got at the moment? Flintoff is probably five minutes' away from his next injury. Harmison is probably 30 seconds away from his next crisis of confidence, and another form slump. These things might not happen - but my point is, let's see if they can keep the same XI on the field for more than one Test before they start crowing about how great they look.
An obvious implication is that they look great under Kevin Pieterson. Who has been captain for about five minutes, and more or less completely unproven. This is what the British press do, of course. They hover insanely between condemnation and hero-worship, and nothing in between. Someone new to the scene does well, and all of a sudden they're the Next Big Thing. You only need to look at what they've done with their 'keepers to see that. Each of Jones, Prior and Ambrose (and to a point, Nixon and Mustard) have been feted beyond measure after a handful of matches. And then, one-by-one they've disappointed, and become villians. I actually hope that Pieterson doesn't suffer the same fate, because I'm going to really look forward to us feeding his ego to him next summer. THEN they can do it to him.
Australia, meanwhile, haven't lost a series since 2005. The last one before that was in 2001. Regardless of whether you think we're worse off without Warne and McGrath, there has been no tangible difference in the results since they left. 2-0 against Sri Lanka. 2-1 against India. 3-0 against the Windies. No matter which way you look at it, the results favour Australia.
Next. Berry again, the IPL, and Australia's over-crowded schedule? Please. The IPL is Twenty20! Bowlers bowl four overs each, if that. Batsmen hit a few boundaries and get out. It's not physically demanding. Wear and tear does not come into it. Hayden's injury probably could have happened carrying the groceries as much as for his "demanding schedule". As for the rest, he fails to address the point that you don't need to use the same XI for every match.
What I love about both these articles is that they've taken complete red herrings and used them as justification for why England are going to win. England winning a one-day series? Symonds being (rightly) disciplined? Australia's "prissy" correctness? The schedule? Come on. As if any of those things are going to make a shred of difference.
I don't have a crystal ball. In fairness, though, neither do they. And it's just this sort of assumptive journalism that makes England such satisfying opponents to beat. For the record, I think it's going to be a good series, and I'm going to look forward to seeing it - but based on the sort of flimsy evidence that both these journos have given us, England are not, and cannot, in any way, shape or form, be seen as anything LIKE favourites at this point. One month does not a good team make.