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Soup of This Day #329: Would’ve Found A Way Out

August 2, 2013

Humpback whale
A humpback whale, wafting a fin, as if looking to glide a loose delivery from well outside off-stump and down to deep 3rd man – Photo: Richard Fisher, 2008. Richard Fisher is not affiliated with Longworth72. Image cropped by Longworth72.

This is Soup #329, which is a nice coincidence because 329 is the highest score in Test cricket of 1 Michael John Clarke. Pup, a favourite of this blog, is the current Australian Test captain and happens to be 1 half of the theme for this post.

The other half is Shane Robert Watson. Watto is not a favourite of this blog but is the current Australian Test vice-captain.

Pup and Watto don’t get along. This seems to be because they are the proverbial chalk and cheese. There’s nothing intrinsically wrong with that – A bit of difference can sometimes lead to a stronger bond. You can for instance draw an awesome work of art on a blackboard while making a Mars Bar cheesecake. Every post is a winner there with your chalk and your cheese.

Except in the case of Pup and Watto, the chalk is being wielded to good effect while the cheese is just stinking.

Watto is the cheese.

And so, instead of being a strength, the gap between 2 naturally talented cricketers has become a weakness, and it is hurting the team. So much so that Clarke has described his deputy as a ‘cancer’ within the team. Cancers are never a good thing. They spread, metastasising into other parts of the organism, and then, if not treated, they can kill it off.

The Australian Test cricket team has looked to be in palliative care across recent weeks. They’re 2 down in a 5-Test Ashes series against the defending champs – They must win the remaining 3 to reclaim the urn, and they must do that on unfriendly pitches and against English weather.

There’s also the small matter of England playing… Shudder… Better cricket. Simply, they have batted better and bowled better. Further aiding the English cause is that they’ve probably shaded the best of some dubious umpiring calls too. All-in-all, the Poms have been good value for their 2 wins.

This, to be honest, isn’t a surprise. On paper the Australians aren’t a bad outfit – In Clarke they have 1 of the best bats in the world. He’s got mercurial talent around him in the line-up too – Watson, Hughes, Smith and Warner – They all have the gift. With the ball too, there is more than enough fire-power in baggy green caps to trouble any line-up, particular where pace is concerned.

England though are even better. They have the willow to score big – Captain Alistair Cook rivals Clarke for run production and in Root, Trott, Pietersen and Bell, they have a formidable solidity matched to explosive power across the middle-order. And when it comes to bowling, particularly in England’s swing-friendly conditions, they are more than capable of taking 20 wickets a game.

Australia then has to be at its very best and then to hope that England isn’t at theirs.

Forget the latter, for the former has just not happened. With the unit fractured around the 2 leaders, there has been a lack of cohesion, a dearth of resolve even, and it has showed. Prior to last night, Day 1 of the 3rd Ashes Test of 2013, no Australian had made a century in this series. The closest had been debutante Ashton Agar, who had knocked out a composed 98 in the 1st Test, in spite of being in the team as: a. A bowler, batting at 11; and b. A teenager, playing at 19.

Glaringly in this lack of form, Clarke and Watson stood out for their mediocrity. The former because we grew accustomed to his big centuries in 2012, and the latter because he’s not been backwards in being forwards about himself.

Watson has no reason to be thinking he’s indispensable. He used to be, both as a stylish opening bat, and then as a 2nd change bowler, with his nagging fast-medium deliveries finding edges. Unfortunately his nagging fast-medium deliveries have also found injuries in Watson – Which in truth is not hard in a large frame that puts itself under all kinds of stress.

Those injuries have taken their toll, not just physically, but seemingly mentally as well. Perhaps because of long gaps in between match practice, Watson has had some technical deficiencies exposed – He’s very susceptible to a good length ball that nips back in – ‘Watson’ and ‘Out LBW’ seem to be words that go together a lot of late. He’s also vulnerable with the ball that seams away, edging to slip.

Clarke has no such regular chinks in his armour. Despite also suffering from chronic back issues, Pup has the footwork and the eye to deal with every type of delivery. He also plays for his team, as that 329 against India in Sydney demonstrated – It was a undefeated total, just 5 short of Sir Donald Bradman’s best and well within range of a slew of records. Clarke though eschewed all of them, instead declaring and giving his bowlers a decent shout of winning the game.

Which they duly did by an innings and 68 runs. That’s a more than ample margin and in hindsight Pup could have reasonably batted on for some time more.

And last night, still suffering from that back complaint, Clarke compiled a captain’s knock, 125 not out, to set the foundations for a team recovery, showing his colleagues how to progress. As I write this, he’s still out there, anchoring his team with 182 runs, more than twice as much as the next best. His role as always has been about his team – The individual stuff has just flowed out of that dedication to the national cause.

Watson by contrast has evidenced that the most prominent role he has out there is to bat for himself. He’s demonstrated this in his selfish use of the Decision Review System (DRS), notably wasting a review on a plumb LBW call against him in the 1st Australian innings of the 2nd Test. That was to prove costly as his batting partner Chris Rogers got out shortly thereafter and chose not to review a decision that would have been surely overturned.

Yep, Shane Watson is a bit on the nose right now. Funnily enough he endorses a deodorant, Brut. It’s not the highest class of scent is the ol’ Brut. My only use of it was when I worked for an aquaculture venture and a tank of yabbies (freshwater crustaceans, wonderfully and scientifically known as Cherax destructor) lost its power supply for a weekend. This left a lot of dead yabbies and as each was taken out of the tank the foul smell began to reach unsurvivable levels.

So we sprayed Brut throughout the room, seeking to drown the odour of dead yabby, much as the yabbies themselves had been drowned by un-oxygenated water.

We failed in a cloud of noxious horror. It turns out that rather than quell the smell of putrid shellfish, the Brut enhanced it, framing the vomit-inducing yabby stench with a slightly fruity and vomit-inducing cologne stench.

Shane Watson is not so much a rotting yabby though – He’s too big for that. Nope, Watto is more of your deceased whale washed up on shore, with nobody quite sure what to do with it. The whale clearly won’t listen to reason and it’s not going to take a hint, so sometimes you have to resort to more drastic measures:

Hard to see where this went wrong. The part where a highway engineer admitted that they didn’t know what they were doing is probably a good sign though that it was going to end with a chunk of whale crushing a car.

Ok, so obviously I’m not suggesting that somebody use 20 cases of dynamite to get Shane Watson out of the Australian Test cricket team. What could be done though is to take 20 cases of LBW decisions going against Watson, bury them on the leeward side and then see if that blows him all the way back to Australia.

LBW then, instead of being Leg Before Wicket, could stand for Little Bits of Whale.

Would’ve Found A Way Out

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