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Soup of This Day #322: Take More Than A Doctor To Prescribe A Remedy

July 14, 2013

Golden tiger
A rare golden tiger, coming in off a long run-up and arrowing for the timber – Photo: Dave Pape, 2006. Dave Pape is not affiliated with Longworth72. Image cropped by Longworth72.

When I was young, my parents bought a double-album of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s greatest hits.

And then they played it a lot.

Jesus Christ superstar did they play it a lot. There were days where it seemed like 1 endless and jumbled matinee in our house – Evita with a cat’s tail and a technicolour coat, riding around on rollerskates while being pursued by some lovelorn spirit escaped from an opera house.

Maybe that was Mum and Dad’s idea of a show. Me not so much – You know how you have that thing where you grow up listening to your parents’ music and against your best wishes it infiltrates your DNA, twisting the strands and imprinting them with a familial love for Mom and Dad’s tunes?

Didn’t happen to me for Andrew Lloyd Webber’s greatest hits. Instead, I used to slightly, but crucially, mispronounce the ‘hits’ bit in that title. Still do.

It’s generally the singing that does it. Because in hardly any instances in my life have I thought, in a dramatic moment, ‘You know what? This would go better with a song.’

Even in traditional settings, like Mum’s funeral, where a selection of her favourite songs played (I vaguely remember that there was something from Lloyd Webber), the whole thing just didn’t fit. This was partly because the emotion was pretty raw but also because my brother had recorded some of the music to a tape and he hadn’t managed to fully erase the Bon Jovi that had been there before.

Although ‘Bad Medicine’ was kind of on the money and I reckon Mum would have had a good laugh at that.

We didn’t sing it though, least not out loud. It just wouldn’t have helped.

And that was a pretty dramatic moment. You get some of them in sport too, but almost always it’s not a good idea to burst into song. I can use me as an example – When I’m running I might like to play a track inside my head, something motivational.

Like ‘Eye of the Tiger’.

Wouldn’t sing out loud though – That would be a waste of the energy I’m going to need for the homeward stretch.

Then there’s swimming. You almost need the music in your head – Something with a driving beat to match your kick to.

Like ‘Eye of the Tiger’.

Still wouldn’t sing it out loud – There’d be less of a musical vibe and more of a swallowing of the water followed by the drowning thing. There’s some irony there in that tigers are 1 of the few big cats that are comfortable swimming. They’re not so good with the singing though and this would fit – Tigers are big game and big games and singing just don’t go together.

Take cricket for instance – The abbreviated experience, the smaller show, that is T20 plays along with a soundtrack of brash dance beats and a backdrop of dancing. Which is fun, or so the kids of today say, but it doesn’t bespeak a big game experience – It’s less taking a close-up photo of a tiger in the wild and more taking a photo at a local revival of Andrew Loyd Webber’s Cats musical. Sure the latter is a good show for some but it’s not really got the same thrill of staring down an actual tiger.

The former has a song about memories. The latter has a high probability of scars. Which are a physical reminder of memories.

The tiger in Australian cricket is the Ashes – 5 Tests of tension, stalking across the grass and around the stands of timber, patiently seeking an edge, a moment of control, all the while hoping that you won’t get pounced on and mauled.

It is a serious endeavour and so there is no singing, bar an occasional guttural roar or a keening of defiance, and the only dancing is a sway outside the line or a rapid shift of feet as the big cat paws at you.

With a cricket ball.

On paper and this should be England’s series for the taking – They are handily positioned in 3rd via the International Cricket Council (ICC) Test rankings, just the 4 points adrift of India, a team they comprehensively flogged in England just last year. Australia are only a place lower on the table but are 7 points behind their Ashes opponents. In terms of points, Australia are closer to the 5th and 6th ranked teams (Pakistan and the West Indies) than they are England.

So there is a gap in form, at least as far as the ICC rankings can indicate. There’s more bad paper news for Australia too – As the holders England need only draw the series to retain the historic Ashes urn – They could conceivably be rained out of all 5 Tests and still be declared the winners.

Not that the England team would want that – They won’t be praying for rain, although they will be hoping for overcast skies. Under the clouds you see, there is a greater chance of the ball swinging prodigiously and the English pace attack has not unsurprisingly honed its ability to swing the Duke cricket ball to near perfection. Certainly in Jimmy Anderson they have the master of that art in their retinue. He’s currently placed 7th in the ICC Test bowler rankings.

He isn’t their best bowler though according to those rankings. That honour falls to Graeme Swann, the enigmatic off-spinner, who is more than capable of breaking an opponent off of his own tweaks and twirls. While Australia can put up a battery of pace bowlers to cancel out Jimmy the Swinger, they have no known counter to Swann.

And that’s with the ball in hand. Sadly it looks for all the world like Australia has a similar deficit with the bat – Of the top 25 Test batsmen, 5 are playing for England, including their superlative captain Alistair Cook, ranked very handily at 6th. By contrast Australia can place their captain Michael Clarke above that English high spot at 5th, but he is the only Australian to grace the top 25. The next best is the mercurial Dave Warner at 33rd, and his place in the team and squad have been placed in jeopardy by a pre-Ashes engagement with England tyro, Joe Root (43rd).

Warner punched him in a bar.

That wasn’t a good look but it pretty much fits with how Australia’s rated – Scrappy, belligerent and done for class.

A scrappy, belligerent and done for class tiger is still a tiger. Maybe it’s stripes are faded, maybe it’s front claws are askew – That’s all ok, because it’s a tiger and you can never be sure which way it’s going to leap.

That’s the Ashes for you.

I started writing this post before the 1st Test started, nigh on 5 days ago. The game since has been an extraordinary 1, with many glimpses of tigers and more twists, turns, ups and downs than you’d get from lobbing 1 of those big cats on a roller-coaster.

And as I conclude this post I have no idea who has won – A scant 10 minutes ago Australia needed 15 runs for victory, but were down to their last pair to get them. England therefore needed a single wicket and surely the odds were with them to get it.

In a sense it matters not which outcome has prevailed – This is Test match cricket and this is the Ashes – I don’t need no needle to be giving me the thrill. And I don’t need no anaesthesia or a nurse to bring a pill. I got a dirty down addiction and it does leave a track.

A track that’s 20.12m long and 3.05m wide. Best be bowling some balls down that – The tiger is waiting.

Take More Than A Doctor To Prescribe A Remedy

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