Ashes 2009 - the story so far


When I think about the Ashes of 2009 through the first two tests, I’m reminded quite vividly of the film Mission to Mars.  Haven’t heard of it?  I’m not surprised.  It wasn’t exactly what one would call ‘a box office hit’.

In fact, it barely registered a blip on the radar.  This however, is not why I’m reminded of the film after the first two tests.  Rather the storyline (and I use that word loosely) of the film exactly follows Australia’s progress in the series so far.

The film starts off with an unexpected awesome passage of people getting torn to shreds by hurricane winds, much similar to the English top order getting torn to shreds by Hilfenhaus and Johnson in the first session of the first test.   In short: good times.

Then, slowly but surely, the film draaaaaags on and you start to get pretty darn bored – a lot of mindless exposition about why a spaceship needs to be sent to Mars.  This was the same with the Aussie bowling.  Sure they got wickets every so often, but it was always after a long partnership and you never got any sense that England were in any danger whatsoever.   Bad times.

Then, suddenly, Australia come out to bat and dominated the bowling in a performance reminiscent of Ivan Drago knocking out Apollo Creed in Rocky 4.  Sure I just mixed my movie metaphors, but it’s my column.  I can do whatever I want thank you!  Anyway, in Mission to Mars, the ship’s journey to the red planet is impeded by a serious of awesome obstacles and culminates in Tim Robbins removing his helmet in deep space, freezing him in milliseconds in front of his wife.  Whoa!!  Again, good times.

The Aussies batted for almost two and a half days with four century makers, and England was suddenly in the foetal position sucking on their proverbial thumbs.  If this wasn’t good enough, Aussie responded by knocking over England’s batting line-up with precision and speed and it seemed nothing would get in the way of another famous Aussie Ashes triumph.

Think again.

For some unknown freaking reason, our bowlers have no skill at bowling out tail-enders.  It happened in Australia.  It happened in South Africa.  And now it’s happening in England.  England scraped out with a draw and inexplicably headed to the home of cricket with... momentum.

Again, the parallels with Mission to Mars are everywhere.  The crew lands on the Martian planet and basically hang around for ages doing absolutely nothing.  The movie goes from high awesomeness to low suckiness.  Hold your horses though, because the analogy doesn’t stop here.

In the movie, Gary Snise (in his least famous role since Of Mice and Men) finds an alien (in a completely boring way) and somehow learns to breathe underwater – stealing the only interesting bit from the immortal Ed Harris film, The Abyss.  Then, for a fleeting moment, the film looks like it might redeem itself with a massive alien vs human war... only for peace to reign and a new civilisation of humans start life on Mars.

Oh man... truly a terrible ending.  However, this is just what happened at Lords.  When all hope seemed lost thanks to awful bowling and muppet umpires (more on those soon) there emerges a glimmer of hope.  Michael Clarke and Brad Haddin seem destined to make history because they are both in the form of their lives.  Could the impossible happen??


We end up losing by 115 runs and terrible service has been resumed.  What went wrong I hear you asking?  Well, ask no more because I have identified 5 causes and solutions to our Ashes problems.

Problem 1: The umpires are muppets.

Yep, if Rudi Koertzen and Billy Doctrove are striving for the award of worst umpire ever (held for years by the immortal Darryl Harper) then they are off to a fine start.  The number of decisions these guys have got wrong is absolutely astounding.  The problem is, Rudi was in his 100th test, and it’s pretty obvious that he’s been utter garbage for the last 30 of them.  As for Doctrove, he’s umpired 25 tests in 10 years, and was involved in the famous ‘DQ’ test at the Oval not long after he was promoted to the elite panel.  In short – the guy’s hopeless.

Solution 1: Fire them both and convince Peter Willey and Simon Taufel to umpire the series.

A good solution.  One English and one Australian umpire, both of whom are widely recognised as being the finest umpires going around.  Willey retired a few years back for family reasons, but what the hell?  He’s still under 50 and was widely respected by everyone in the game.  As for Taufel, he’s been voted as the game’s best umpire for about 10 years running, but he’s Australian.  So this means Australia will never be umpired by the best umpire in cricket.

That, my friends, is a crock.

So, bring them both on board and I guarantee the umpiring controversy will be long forgotten by the time the 5th day of the 5th test rolls around.

Problem 2: Mitchell Johnson is dead.

I’m not sure of the cause of death, but he definitely is a decrepit corpse right now.   If Mitchell Johnson was still alive, there’s no way England would be 1-0 up.  At the very worst it would be 1-1.  However, he is dead, so it’s just something we’re going to have to deal with.

Solution 2: Get him to spend some time away from females.

Yep, the answer, I think, is that easy.  Why?  Well, he has the hottest girlfriend on tour – and Clarke is married to Lara Bingle, so that’s saying something!  A girl that hot can only be a distraction.  However, she’s also causing friction because his estranged mother has appeared from absolutely nowhere to claim that Johnson never sees or talks to her anymore because he spends his time with his girlfriend.

Well, this just won’t do.  The man is bowling for his country in the Ashes!  He can’t have a hot woman arguing with an estranged mum, because I guarantee that means he is going just a little bit insane.  If I were the Aussie coach, I’d send Johnson off to the golf course for a day, send his girlfriend home, and totally remove him from these female issues.  He doesn’t need this in his head!  His goal is simple.  Bowl fast and straight. 

Problem 3: Most seriously: Mike Hussey.

Yep, the so-called ‘Mr Cricket’ has been a shadow of his former self.  The man who was once averaging a cool 74 in test cricket and was being hailed as the next Bradman has been anything but.  His test career has somewhat followed the trajectory of Lindsay Lohan.  Started with a bang and was the hottest thing going around, then suddenly he looks like a bit of trailer trash and is fighting to stay relevant.  He’s dropping catches, struggling with his footwork, his timing is woeful, and he’s turned into a bit of a mouth breather too. 

Solution 3: Drop him.

Yep, you heard it here first.  I have no confidence that Hussey will turn it around this series.  Every time he strides to the crease, he looks like Nemo and he just wants to go home.  If I were a selector, I’d drop him for the next test and put in... wait for it... Shane Watson!

Yep, I have confidence that Watson has 2 more tests in him before he breaks his spinal column or some other injury.  Like it or not though, the guy will score more runs than Hussey, and will also give us a 3rd bowling option.  If he’s no chance of playing, then why the hell is he there???  Put him in and let’s take a chance.  After all, it’s better than the 4 and 17 Hussey will score in Test 3.

Problem 4: Nathan Hauritz.

Now, I must say, Hauritz has grown on me slightly in test 2.  He tried really hard and he even came back out to bowl after dislocating a finger.  Now that is awesome.  However, he’s simply not a threat.  Sure he’ll get a few cheap wickets, but when England knuckle down or try to hit him out of the attack – it always works.  See his 2nd innings bowling to Flintoff and Prior last match?  Not cool, my friends.  Not cool.

Solution 4: Bring Warnie out of retirement.

Yep, you heard it here 6,078th.  He proved in the IPL that he’s still the best spinner Australia has by a country mile.  Plus, he instils a serious amount of fear in the England batsmen.  You think we’d have trouble wrapping up the tail if Warnie had the ball in his hands?  No chance!  Bring him back I say, and watch him weave his magic once again.

Problem 5: SBS’s coverage.

Whose idea was it to give Stuart MacGill the hosting duties and why haven’t they been shot yet?  Also, the idea of putting Damien Martyn in a suit and having him speak is up there with the Twitter release of a novel as one of the top 5 worst ideas this year.  How do they expect Australia to win if they have such appalling coverage?

Solution 5: Pay Ritchie the $6,000,000,000,000 he is demanding and poach him from Channel 9 along with Dean Jones.  Keep Greg Matthews.

Now that would be a great panel.  Ritchie is the godfather of cricket, Deano’s the racist and most hilarious of cricket analysts and Greg Matthews seems to be aiming to become the Bill Walton of cricket commentary.  This would be a three man booth I’d be more than happy to listen to for analysis.  Ritchie would be the ultimate straight man to Deano and Mo’s funny men routine.  You can’t tell me you wouldn’t enjoy that panel.  So would the Aussie cricketers, and it would help them win... maybe.

So there you have it; the problems and solutions for Australia.  Essentially our Ashes success comes back to Mitchell Johnson’s corpse.  If Troy Cooley can’t find a healthy dose of epinephrine, and fast, our Ashes chances will disappear faster than the Miami Sound Machine’s time at the top of the charts.

And that isn’t good for anyone.

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Mission to Mars had its moments,
but was overall a monumental failure.

Ricky Ponting has had happier
starts to a test series
Rudi Koertzen needs to retire... now...

Mitchell has too many female issues
surrounding him to perform.
Why is the greatest bowler
ever not playing?