When the Ashes come around, everything else loses its importance

WHEN sport comes along, major sport that is, international contests, everything else is pushed to the background in Australia.

And you can’t get bigger than the Ashes, the contest for cricket supremacy between Australia and England. There is a lot of history which gives the contest its importance: for example, Australia is a former convict colony of Britain and that rankles a lot, even to this day.

This time around, it may not be the most even of contests, given that Australia is comparatively weak on paper and based on its most recent outings against other countries.
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Good riddance: Shane Watson quits

The vice-captain of Australia’s cricket team, Shane Watson, has stepped down from his post. Not from the team, just the post.

It’s good he did it, because that saves the selectors one job, of sacking him as vice-captain. Watson saw it coming and didn’t want to be humiliated.

But he may earn the ultimate humiliation anyway – he may not be in the team at all, the team that goes to England in June to defend the Ashes.
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Phillip Hughes rides again

At times, the manner in which a batsman makes runs provides evidence of his ability. But the reverse is also true: at times, the way a batsman scores is indicative of reasons why he should not be picked.

Phillip Hughes of New South Wales has again been awarded a contract by Cricket Australia. On the tour of India in February and March, Hughes failed repeatedly. He showed an inability to tackle spin – and that was about all that was doled out by the Indian team.

Hughes’ scores in the series were 6, 0, 19, 0, 2, 69, 45 and 6 as Australia was hammered 4-0 in the four-Test series. During the knock of 69, he was like a cat on hot bricks. He survived 166 balls through sheer luck, and zero ability. He was as jumpy as he had been during his previous five innings.
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Black money drives the IPL

Back in 1967, the then Indian finance minister Morarji Desai had the brilliant idea of raising taxes well beyond their existing level; the maximum marginal tax rate was raised as high as 97.75 percent.

Desai, who was better known for drinking his own urine, reasoned that people would pay up and that India’s budgetary problems would be more manageable.

Instead, the reverse happened. India has always had a problem with undeclared wealth, a kind of parallel economy which is called black money. The amount of black money increased by leaps and bounds after Desai’s ridiculous laws were promulgated.
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Brownwash leaves Australia shattered

Last month, Australia completed a miserable cricket tour of India during which it lost all four Tests, the first time this has happened since 1970.

On that occasion, a strong Australian team went to South Africa and was creamed 4-0; the South Africans were captained by Ali Bacher and included legends of the game like Graeme Pollock, Mike Proctor, Peter Pollock, Barry Richards and Eddie Barlow.

But in India, a weak Australian team came up against opponents who were not that formidable. The one thing that was clearly observable was the fact that the shorter forms of the game have had a bad effect on the Australians’ ability to stay at the crease and grind out the runs.
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Xenophobes in Australia about to choke on their cornflakes

THE xenophobes in Australia — and that’s a goodly proportion of the population — will find themselves in a difficult position if Fawad Ahmed is granted citizenship and selected to play for Australia in the Ashes cricket series against England later this year.

You see, Ahmed is an asylum-seeker from Pakistan. Asylum-seekers are a class of human beings whom the average Australian, with his/her devotion to a fair go, deems to be sub-human and only deserving of being sent back to their country of origin. Or drowned at sea.

Ahmed applied for permanent residence last year and while he was awaiting a decision, it emerged that he was a more than capable leg-spinner. Australia was a few weeks from taking on South Africa in a Test series and so he was asked to go over and help the Australians in their net practice. South Africa has a spinner of Pakistani origin, Imran Tahir, in its ranks and the Australians needed to play a good spinner to prepare to face Tahir.
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When the offenders become the story

IT COULD only happen in Australia. Two DJs stage a prank call to the hospital where a member of the royal family, Kate Middleton, had been admitted as she was suffering from morning sickness; they pose as Queen Elizabeth and her son, Charles.

The call is passed on by an unsuspecting nurse who is doubling as a telephone operator, and her colleague in the ward provides an accurate rundown of Middleton’s condition.

The DJs, from 2Day FM, play the recorded conversation without asking the hospital for its permission as they are required to do by the rules of their own station. The recording was played by several other stations and the nurse involved, Jacintha Saldanha, was made to look like a fool.
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British traders being disadvantaged by pathetic mail service

BRITAIN’S Royal Mail service is royal no longer. Indeed, one could question whether it is a mail service at all, it takes so long to deliver material for which people have paid. At times deliveries do not take place at all.

This comes at an unfortunate time for a country which was once known for its efficiency. The number of people buying things across borders has soared with the development of the world-wide web and if things are not delivered in time, then traders risk losing customers.

Nobody will come back to a trader who cannot send his goods across in time. This is unlikely to be the fault of the trader but that does not bother the increasingly self-centred customer.
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Anzac Day glorifies war

IN AUSTRALIA, Anzac Day is a means to promote militarism and nationalism. It marks the day when Australian forces invaded Turkey in 1915, entering World War I.

Sixty thousand Australians were killed in that war and nearly 16 million people died worldwide. It was no event over which to rejoice.

Anzac Day was initially used during the war to recruit people to fight on the other side of the world. In 1916 and 1917, Anzac Day became a means of supporting conscription.
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Some myths about the Australia-India Test series

EVER since the Indian cricket team was two months away from its current tour of Australia, the media and the PR people have been boosting it as being based on some kind of “traditional” rivalry. This is just one of the many myths that was being spread about this tour in an attempt to draw crowds.

There is no such traditional rivalry. Australian teams have been historically reluctant to tour India, because of the conditions. Indian teams have been similarly reluctant to tour Australia because of the one-sided umpiring. (A good example of this was seen in 1999 when Sachin Tendulkar was given out lbw in the second innings for a duck after a ball from Glenn McGrath hit him on the helmet!

The umpire was none other than the corpulent Darryl Hair, the same man who tried to extort money from the ICC after he was embroiled in a row after making Pakistan forfeit a Test in England.)
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