vol. 3 #16 - 05 October 2010
The Sentinel Amsterdam
Integrity, heart, humour
MY INDIAN TAKEAWAY perspectives
CONNECTING DOLTS Lifestyles
MY LIFE DOWN UNDER OPINION TRENDs CARTOON SPORT CLASSIFIEDs
Photo: © Steve Marshall
In this issue FEATURE
p. 03 PERSPECTIVES P. 08 LIFESTYLES
My Life down under
My Indian Takeaway
“I’d arrived expecting to see nothing but soulless call centres and glass box software subsidiaries.”
“I should just say here that “Do you have a kangaroo in Indian phone manners are utterly your backyard?” unlike anything with which we are familiar in the West.”
p. 15 sport
Stud marks “No more ‘Bents’, just ‘Bench’.”
p. 16 more:
Ashes to Ashes
TRENDS Il Chianti Cinese “…opening stands were routine, now one wicket often becomes Film review two and a mini-collapse ensues.” Room 2C
p. 12 p. 13
CARTOON Premier Donna
SPORT p. 20 Fantasy Football Gold Champions League 2010-2011 CLASSIFIEDS
ColoPHon The Sentinel Amsterdam e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org website: www.thesentinel.eu
Editors – Gary Rudland & Denson Pierre Design, realisation and form – Andrei Barburas & No-Office.nl Webmaster – Simon O. Studios Webhost – Amsterjammin.com
Contributors: nascentguruism.com, Jules Marshall, Anand Chetna, Elsbeth de Ridder, Dirkje Bakker, David King, Graham Jones, James Naylor, Maureen Kamp, Shane Brady
Jules Marshall takes three months away from the increasingly constrictive Amsterdam scene to delve deep into himself as well as the urban soul of the worldâ€™s largest democracy, of sorts
My Indian takeaway
By Jules Marshall
When your life is going nowhere, just going somewhere – anywhere – can feel like a step in the right direction. Only retrospection can determine whether this was true, or not. When my well-paying freelance gig with Amsterdam’s promoters ended abruptly in autumn 2009, I missed the regular money but the release from the all-consuming anxiety of the situation was almost worth the loss. Almost. As winter turned to spring and financial belt tightening edged into full-blown famine, my confident assertion that I was simply making room in my life for something better began to sound increasingly hollow. The truth was I felt rejected by the city I had been writing about for 20 years, unsure whether my life here was even viable any more, and whether I had the energy and desire to make it so. When I read on LinkedIn that JP – a Dutch software entrepreneur who had bought an international features agency I worked for and relocated it to India – was passing through Amsterdam, I arranged to meet him for coffee. I was interested to hear about how his plans to take the agency in a new direction were progressing. The media industry is undergoing its biggest upheaval since the introduction of moveable type 500 years ago, as the internet changes how media is created, distributed and paid for. With readers migrating en masse to the Web and ad revenue following, ‘magazine writer’ is becoming about as viable a profession as ‘scribe’. Likewise, ‘professional photographer’ is becoming an oxymoron and the role of an agency that has traditionally brought the two together and marketed their stories is in need of an overhaul, too. Leap of faith JP’s counterintuitive blog posts on how we could make money by giving our work away for free had intrigued but
by no means convinced me. Nevertheless, as he explained his ideas to me face to face, I suddenly found myself blurting out: “Why don’t I come to India for a few weeks and help you flesh out and articulate this?” A couple of days later, having run the idea past his fiancée, an offer was made: I could stay with them in Bangalore for 10 weeks and work on a room-plus-board-plus pocket money basis. I had a month to find a tenant for my flat and sort out the details.
“With readers migrating en masse to the Web and ad revenue following, ‘magazine writer’ is becoming about as viable a profession as ‘scribe’.” Having renewed my passport and eventually a tenant for my apartment, my seven-year-old Apple Mac suddenly died. A friend agreed to lend me the money to replace it and buy my plane ticket, and my late, late visa application came through the day before I was scheduled to fly. But suddenly and incredibly, by late May, there I was sitting on an Emirates Airbus headed for Bangalore. Different world Located on the volcanic Deccan Plateau, 2,000 feet above sea level, Bangalore is cooler than the bigger and betterknown urban centres of the sub-continent. This relatively mild climate prompted the British to turn it into a military hub, after subduing the local Maharaja back in the 18th century, and the weather was a major attraction for the city’s current expat and foreign investment boom. I’d arrived expecting to see nothing but soulless call centres and glass box software subsidiaries intermingled with dusty Mumbai-like overcrowding. But the business parks are largely on the city periphery; the centre is almost Mediterranean in character. In the Indiranagar district where I worked, the abundant trees shade the idiosyncratic
villas of the growing middle class; most spectacularly the frond-leaved gul mahur with their scarlet flowers and two-foot-long seedpods. Having undergone spectacular growth in the last decade, Bangalore is a multi-dimensional palimpsest in which the medieval, industrial and post-industrial co-exist. Western shops and modern malls rub shoulders with dilapidated shacks and one-man businesses on handcarts. The ubiquitous colourful Hindu temples are joined by more austere Christian churches of various denominations and mosques, all interspersed with the glass temples to the new gods of technology, both domestic (Airtel, Ubisoft, Tata) and foreign (Google, Adobe, Nokia).
â€œHaving undergone spectacular growth in the last decade, Bangalore is a multi-dimensional palimpsest in which the medieval, industrial and postindustrial co-exist. â€?
The local Kannada language and widespread functional English are supplemented through migration with half a dozen other Indian languages, which with the largely young and educated population creates a uniquely Indian cosmopolitanism.
The roads are clogged, but with judicious use of the horn, still just about functional. The mix of bicycles, motorbikes, auto rickshaws, public buses and private cars somehow manages to keep the population mobile, expanding and contracting to make use of every inch of the dual carriageway arteries. And there was visible progress being made daily on a new metro system that will link the city with the new airport, built by a cheap and inexhaustible supply of flip-flop wearing labourers.
My initial impressions were not all positive. The first week was hot; too hot to sleep. And the mosquitoes, even if malaria free, plagued me. Then the late monsoon arrived and for the rest of my stay, the days were warm and the nights cooler.
Out and about Walking, on the other hand, is not strongly recommended. The pavements are an obstacle course of broken stones, half-dug holes, encroaching Monsoon-sized storm drains, sudden dips, faults and absences. Riding in an open-sided
“India felt like the past and future of Europe, while the present Europe just feels sclerotic and moribund.” auto rickshaw was the best way to travel. A conservative state government has passed similar anti-smoking rules to Holland and imposed an 11 pm closing time on all bars and clubs. Nightlife as we understand it does not exist and fraternisation between the sexes is minimal. The World Cup naturally dominated the first few weeks of my stay but the time difference meant three of England’s four matches were played at midnight my time – after the pubs had shut. In retrospect, watching them alone after everyone in the house had gone to bed was the best way to catch them. But for the Dutch games JP and I travelled to a variety of bars and restaurants, shared with a range of corporate expats and their families. Best of all was Mutu’s, a vast second-floor bar/restaurant open on all sides and with the right connections to allow its patrons to smoke. Completed with a large screen and fantastic menu, it was the perfect match-watching venue. Time for reflection With all cooking, shopping, cleaning and transport taken care of, a social life largely confined to eating out, and no childcare, my life was simpler than it has been for years. This had the advantage of allowing me to focus on my life and career, or lack thereof. While this was liberating – especially the luxury of long chats with co-workers and freelancers employed on “re-imagining the agency and a writer’s role”, the blue skies thinking and the grappling with techno-social issues – it was also emotionally tiring. Without the domestic downtime, being continuously ‘on’ was a big change of energy for me, as was going from living/working alone to living in a household and working with others. I also paradoxically became more passive without the little daily time allocation decisions to make, and more introspective when I was not interacting with others. JP had a gym membership and home workout routine, up on the flat roof of the house. When we added a yoga class to the mix, for a brief moment I was living a more active life than at any time since university, nearly 30 years ago. A week or so into this regime I developed acute lower back pain. After a couple of sleepless nights I took myself to an ayurvedic clinic. The Doc took one prod at the afflicted spinal area, I hit the roof and he ordered me a cab to hospital for an MRI scan; he suspected a crack. Despite excruciating pain, eventually I managed to stay still for the required 30 minutes. No crack, but there was inflammation. I was given three different ayurvedic pills and some rubbing liniment and told to lay off the exercise
for a week. Two days later I felt fine. After a week I was pronounced fine but told there was a 50% chance the pain would return unless I tackled the root muscular cause. This meant picking up the yoga even more enthusiastically than before and having a daily two-hour massage treatment for 14 days. It would be expensive and time consuming, but I figured better here in India than 10 times the price back in Europe. Lasting impressions But overall I really enjoyed Bangalore. It has a vibrant optimism and ‘just get it done’ attitude, compared to Europe. When the cable and electricity supplies to the house went on the blink, we were given the mobile phone number of a technician, who came right round on his motorbike. There’s a ‘hacker ethic’ to every aspect of life there: stuff is fixed and modified; bureaucracy is bypassed; even the beggars have mobile phones. Waste is re-used, things are made and done by hand that in the West get made or done by machine. India felt like the past and future of Europe, while the present Europe just feels sclerotic and moribund, obsessed with safety and regulation, more concerned with saving outmoded jobs than creating new relevant ones, mired in official paranoia about religion and terrorism. Though I did barely any tourist activities typical of an India trip, I found the experience of living and working in Bangalore more than made up for this. Of the BRIC tiger economies, India must surely for social and linguistic reasons be the most accessible and open (not to mention safe) for Westerners. I learned many things there but the single statistic – my Indian takeaway, if you like – was this: one million new adults are due to join the country’s workforce every month for the next 20 years. One million. A month. Krishna knows what they’re all going to do. Back home I feel that whereas in the 1960s Europeans visited India to find themselves, in the 2010s I for one went there to lose myself, albeit temporarily. As for my look at the future of the writing business, I’m anxious to see whether the new model works when it’s launched at this end of this year. Thanks to thecoverstory.com’s JP and my anonymous financial rescuer for making the trip possible, and to Sabita, Srikanth & Jayprakash for making it so rewarding. If you enjoyed this, please follow me on Twitter: @julesmshall
Connecting dolts By Anand Chetna
‘I live in the seventh largest metropolis in India’
I recently returned to India from Europe with my new laptop, which comes complete with Wi-Fi and which, incidentally, worked perfectly in Dubai Airport en route. I instantly discovered that there is no Wi-Fi connection where I live, however. Now I’m not talking about a bamboo hut in the middle of nowhere – I live in the seventh largest metropolis in India (thank you Wikipedia), the Oxford of the East – but in my particular area this wonder of modern technology is not available. And while we’re on the subject, I chatted online with a friend who was holidaying in a remoteish village in the foothills of the Himalayas and she had Wi-Fi. So I set about getting an internet connection. To cut a three-week, hair-tearing, wailing and gnashing of teeth story short, I now have a pretty good little USB courtesy of Tata. If you’re unfamiliar with the name, the Tata Group is, and again thank you Wikipedia, India’s largest business group and multinational company. There is a ‘help’ number for their internet connections, which I have had several occasions to call. Having done telephone work myself and in light of the tremendous strides being made by India in every direction, you would think that a multinational company would be
able to provide a smooth, easy, informative and generally pleasant service. First of all, you get the automated press this for this, press that for that, so I press 2 for English. Three times now, and this represents 33% of the times I have called the number, a voice has answered with the Hindi word for ‘speak.’ I should just say here that Indian phone manners are utterly unlike anything with which we are familiar in the West. When I arrived in the country, it was common to spend half a conversation saying “hello, hello,” to make sure the other person was still there. The updated version is a simple and usually peremptory ‘speak,’ or ‘who?’ So I say in Hindi that I do not speak Hindi (I know, I know) and ask him to speak English. Yes, he says and then repeats the Hindi for ‘speak’. English, I repeat. Yes, he says, in Hindi, speak (again Hindi). I ask to speak to the manager and after hanging on for some time my call is cut off. So I go through the whole rigmarole again, this time speaking English, only to discover that there is no explanation for why my connection has slowed right down to snail’s pace. I suggest that the server may be down? He doesn’t know, just that it will take twelve hours to fix. After twelve hours I call again and am told that this time I must wait twenty hours. Is it the server I enquire again, because this, I know, might well account for such a delay. No, no. It was the server. It did get fixed and I’m using it now. Sigh.
My Life Down Under By Elsbeth de Ridder
Australia is a great country to live in and would be perfect if it wasn’t so bloody far away!
Whenever I tell people in Australia that I’m from Amsterdam, I usually get the same response: “Does that mean you’re stoned 24/7?” Having lived here for more than nine years, I have finally found the right response: “Do you have a kangaroo in your backyard?” With all of the clichés out of the way, we can then have a normal conversation. Australia is a great country to live in and would be perfect if it wasn’t so bloody far away! I first came to Sydney about thirteen years ago, as part of a university work-experience programme. I had no idea what to expect but had the best six months of my life and fell in love with Sydney. It is one of the most beautiful cities you will ever visit. It has beaches, the harbour, great nature and, my biggest joy coming from Holland, the weather! People tend to think the weather is always nice in Australia and it usually is, but during winter it does get cold and we do even have snow, believe it or not. The road to Oz After completing my studies, I went to work for Heineken in Amsterdam. I then moved heaven and earth for Heineken to send me to the Holland Heineken House for the Sydney Olympic Games, in 2000. I got it, came back here and realised Sydney was where I wanted to live. I gave my notice to Heineken and moved back six months later, in July 2001.
With my huge optimism, I thought I would get a visa here without a problem. Well, that was a bit of a miscalculation and after a lot of blood, sweat and tears, not to mention working every brain numbing temporary job you can think of, I had to leave the country. I decided to move to New Zealand, as at least it was a lot closer to Australia than The Netherlands. Eventually, it worked. I found a job in New Zealand, got transferred back to Australia and had a sponsorship here as a sales representative with an international conferencing company. Given my visa conditions, I was married to the company for many years, so I figured the only way was up and worked myself up to Sales Director. After a couple of years, my boss wanted to send me to Melbourne to set up another sales office there, so I went for six months and in return he applied for my residency, which meant I could then stay permanently and work anywhere. Recently, I decided it was time for a career change. I left my job, went to South Africa as a volunteer for four months (and yes, I was there for the World Cup 2010!) and travelled all over Southern and Eastern Africa, before coming back and finding a job with World Vision (a worldwide non-profit organisation focusing on improving children’s lives) as a Regional Relationship Manager. Adjusting At first, working in Australia was a bit of a culture shock. Whereas in Holland we can be very formal, Australia is the complete opposite. Also, while Dutch people will always be early, Australians are very relaxed with timekeeping.
When I first arrived from Holland I couldn’t understand why people thought I was a bit rude sometimes. But now, having been here for so long, I understand: we are very direct and that is just not done here! Australians also abbreviate everything. It took me a while to figure out what brekkie (breakfast), telly (TV) and ciggie (cigarette) were. Then there’s the accent, the expressions and more, it took a while but I got there. What do I miss about The Netherlands? First of all, my family. The older your parents become and the more your sister does grown-up stuff like having babies and getting married, the harder it gets to be this far away. The chips with mayo, cheese soufflés and lots of other things I will also always miss. But on the other side, the lifestyle here is typically outdoor; nine out of 12 months per year there’s sunshine and social gatherings consist of BBQ’s, picnics, etc. The beaches are fifteen minutes walking distance from my house. What can I say? I love it! Come visit! Elsbeth de Ridder gives her precious time to: http://trans.worldvision.com.au/default.aspx (my current work with world vision) http://www.aviva-sa.com/ (for whom I volunteered in Africa)
‘we are very direct and that is just not done here!’
Il Chianti Cinese By Dirkje Bakker
Autumn started early this year, in August, while our minds were wandering south; dreaming with aching hearts of sunny days and warm nights, preferably accompanied by colourful cocktails. It’s really far too early to be retrieving duvets from the top shelf of the cupboard or turning up the thermostat; so what happened to summer? While the city is slowly being covered in a blanket of shrivelled brown, burgundy and golden leaves, reality sinks in. It’s time to start thinking about new winter coats and warm boots, preferably made in Italy, because that’s where high quality clothing was invented in antiquity and it’s one of the only reliable labels left in this H&M-dominated world. There is a fact about fashion that has always stood immaculately above all the rest, like Madonna above sad wannabe pop stars: if you want quality, look for the ‘Made in Italy’ label. While clinging to this last pillar of the old world, where craftsmanship is highly valued, something happened in a small town in Italy called Prato; a textile centre since the 13th century. For centuries, this town just outside Florence has produced some of the world’s finest fabrics, becoming a centre for ‘Made in Italy’ chic. The Italians there realised that it is impossible to compete with the Chinese on price, so they decided to focus on quality, not quantity. Starting in the 1980’s, Chinese immigrants came to live and work in Prato and slowly but surely started setting up their own businesses. Luckily for them, the Italians are famous for corruption and rule bending, and not so
luckily for the Italians, the Chinese have a great talent for this ‘Mediterranean’ approach to regulations. Now a thriving industry, some 3,200 businesses create ‘Made in Italy’ products, mainly using materials imported from, yes, China… It’s not clear if it was the heat or the history of corruption and rule bending that has resulted in the city growing into a largely illegal zone of Chinese creating ‘Made in Italy’ products. Meanwhile, the Italians are still not sure if the biggest resentment they harbour has to do with the undermined reputation of their products or with the Chinese beating them at their own game, working the famously impenetrable bureaucracy like the best of the Florentines. And it’s not just the Chinese making new money. So where does this leave us? Freezing in our garments from last season, we are lost in a forest of fashion without anyone to offer direction. At least the Vondelpark offers great autumn photo opportunities…
Room 2c ďŹ lm By David King
Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981) What a classic! This is a film that should be viewed over and again every few years, to remind us of what fun and cinema can be all about (and to banish the memory of that damned Crystal Skull!). With rip-roaring action scenes, immortal one-liners, Nazi-bashing and thousands of snakes, this movie gave us everything we wished for during childhood. Dig it out of your collection today and enjoy while munching popcorn in celebration!
Compost corner By James Naylor & Graham Jones
Vegetable of the month Potatoes There are dozens of different potato varieties, usually described as early, second early and main crop. The names not only indicate when they crop, but also give you an idea of how much space you’ll need, how closely to plant them and when. Concentrate on the earlier types if you’re short of space. Earlies are less likely to encounter pest problems, as they’re harvested before the pests really get going. Second earlies take 16 to 17 weeks to mature after planting, so you should be able to harvest them from very late June through to the beginning of August. Main crops are ready 18 to 20 weeks after planting, so they can usually be lifted from July through to October. Main crops take up the most space in the garden but they store the best. How to plant Start chitting in February, about six weeks before you intend to plant the potatoes. Chitting simply means encouraging the seed potatoes to sprout before planting (just like the shop-bought potatoes you have in the back of your cupboard!). Stand the tubers with the blunt end upwards in trays or old egg boxes with plenty of natural light. The potatoes are ready to be planted out when the shoots are 2.5cm long. Plant your chitted potatoes about 50cm apart, when the soil has started to warm up, usually from mid-March or early April. Start by digging a trench 15cm deep. Place the chitted potatoes in the trench and cover with soil. As soon as the shoots appear, earth up each plant by covering it with a ridge of soil, so
Recipe of the month that the shoots are just under the surface. You need to do this at regular intervals and by the end of the season each plant will have a small mound around it, about 15cm high. Harvesting Your potatoes should be ready for lifting from June until September, depending on the varieties and the growing conditions. Earlies can be lifted and eaten as soon as they’re ready. Second and main crop varieties can be kept in the ground much longer, until September, even though the above-ground growth may look past its best. Two weeks before you lift the crop, cut the growth off at ground level. This should give the potato skins sufficient time to toughen up, making them far less prone to damage during lifting and easier to store. Health: Potatoes contains vitamins and minerals, as well as an assortment of phytochemicals, such as carotenoids and polyphenols. The fibre content of a potato with skin is equivalent to that of many whole grain breads, pastas and cereals.
Crushed hot potatoes Ingredients Potatoes Chopped rosemary Chilli powder Salt & pepper Olive oil 1) Preheat oven to 180˚C. 2) Add as many whole potatoes (with skins) as you like to boiling salted water in a large pot. Boil until tender and drain. 3) Drizzle a baking sheet with olive oil. Place the potatoes on the sheet and gently press down on them with a potato masher. Rotate the masher 90 degrees and repeat the process, breaking up and slightly crushing the potatoes. 4) Brush the tops with olive oil and sprinkle over the rosemary, chilli, salt and pepper. 5) Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until golden brown and crispy.
Stud marks By Maureen Kamp
A tale of two Davids And then one day they had a lovely baby boy and they called him David. And by the time he was about 12, his mummy and daddy started to realise they may have struck gold with this one. Not only was he pretty good with a ball, he was pretty good to look at, too. So his parents guided him through the difficult years of puberty and kept him away from sex, drugs and rock ‘n’ roll, and by the time he turned 16 he had a contract at Manchester United. David Beckham went on to become captain of England, he married a Spice Girl, won lots of trophies and medals (and got something from the Queen), moved to LA and made lots of movie star friends, and became the most famous football player ever… And the richest. The End Nine years later... And then one day they had a lovely baby boy and they called him David. And by the time he was about 12 his mummy and daddy started to realise they may have struck gold with this one. Not only was he pretty good with a ball, he was pretty good to look at, too. So his parents guided him through the difficult years of puberty and kept him away from sex, drugs and rock ‘n’ roll, and by the time he turned 16 he had a contract at Arsenal. David Bentley then became captain of England Under 18s, went on loan to Norwich, got a bit of a gambling problem and got married. He became a bit unhappy with football but completely revived his career playing for Blackburn Rovers, becoming their player of the year. And then he
“Football looks so much better when David Bentley is on the pitch.” moved to Tottenham Hotspur and that was that. No more ‘Bents’, just ‘Bench’. Was it the wrong parents? Was his French not good enough for Arsene, his wife not dominating enough, did he have the wrong haircuts? I don’t know but it hurts me that he’s stuck on the bench. It’s wrong. Football looks so much better when David Bentley is on the pitch. So, not only have I put him in my FFL team, where he has scored me just two points, so far. He’s basically the captain of my Stud Marks XI, which is a massive leap of faith. So, come on Bents get back out there and show them what you’ve got, and soon you will save us from that powder-puff, chest-shaving, handbag-carrying, mummy’s boy (Cristiano Ronaldo), by brightening up our world with your Armani billboards! The End
By Colin Bentley
Arsene, you’ve been quoted saying that Manuel Almunia gets a bit nervous during big matches.
That statement is not entirely true...
... It doesn’t need to be a particularly big match for Manuel to get jittery!
Ashes to Ashes By Shane Brady
There is one advantage to living in Brisbane – every four years we host the first Test of the Ashes series between old foes England and Australia. For purists, Test cricket remains the pinnacle of the game. No pyjamas, no smash and bash, just 22 fine flannelled fellows matching wits and skills for five whole days. The Americans just don’t get it, which is more to the point. The sporting contest known as The Ashes has been going on for 150 years, and has come to define the relationship, for better or worse, between this little colony and its imperial masters. Think Bradman, Bodyline, royal handshakes, doctored pitches, the Centenary Test, Greigy’s bike helmet, McCosker’s broken jaw, handlebar moustaches, Warne’s ball of the century, Flintoff consoling Lee, Trafalgar Square and MBEs. It’s more than just a game. This November, my home town plays host to yet another invasion of the trumpet-blasting, chest-beating hordes known as the Barmy Army. I, like many other Briswegians, will ditch work and head to the Gabba where we will be treated to constant reminders of our convict past and
serenaded with God save your Queen. Meanwhile, we’ll sit there politely waiting for the next boundary and musing on that great quirk of history that resulted in us being sent to Australia and the English, well, staying in England. Out with the old This year, Australia, still in a rebuilding phase, faces a combined English-South African side with a dash of Irish. The home team is a shadow of that which obliterated the Auld Enemy 5-0 in 2006-07. Gone are ‘man of the century’ Matt Hayden; his sidekick Justin Langer with his 10-yard stare; the great Glenn ‘ooh-aah’ McGrath and his collection of bunnies; Adam ‘boy scout’ Gilchrist; and Warnie, the man the English loved to hate but are growing to like as a commentator. All that remain are skipper Ricky ‘Punter’ Ponting, with his “stupid little monkey face” as a cricket text commentator once put it; his understudy Michael ‘Pup’ Clarke and batsman Mike ‘Jiminy Cricket’ Hussey. It was a great side, one of the greatest. That said, they still lost the Ashes in England in that classic 2005 series. The 2010 model is merely a good side with a couple of once great players, in Punter and Huss, who are now on the slow, inevitable slide towards careers in the media. Points to prove Simon Katich, the weak link in that ’05 series who was
Hussey blocks dropped for the home whitewash, has since redeemed himself as an opener with a broad streak of Boycott stubbornness. But his crabbing across the crease is a worry against swinging Englishmen. Young opener Phillip Hughes, cut adrift early in last year’s Ashes series in England, could get a chance to do the same if Marcus North doesn’t improve. It is doubtful Hughes has grown any taller in the past year so he can expect plenty of chin music from England’s pace men if selected. While the Sheffield Shield production line continues to churn out willing, workmanlike bowlers to support the erratic Mitchell Johnson, the batting is a concern, particularly the form of the once imperious Ponting. Where once Australia’s batting extended as far as No. 8, and century opening stands were routine, now one wicket often becomes two and a mini-collapse ensues. So no-one here realistically expects another whitewash. The mental disintegration of opponents wrought by Steve ‘Tugger’ Waugh and carried on by the likes of McGrath and Warne is but a distant memory. Yet, with a possible 25 days of play across five Tests, an entire series can turn on a single session or even a single delivery, as witnessed when Steve Harmison sent the first ball of the 2006-07 series here sailing to second slip, and with it England’s hopes. And in last year’s Cardiff Test, Ponting inexplicably
‘So no-one here realistically expects another whitewash. The mental disintegration of opponents wrought by Steve ‘Tugger’ Waugh and carried on by the likes of McGrath and Warne is but a distant memory..’ persisted with spin and took his foot off England’s throat, allowing them to escape with a battling draw. The hosts had been given the faintest sniff and Ponting now wears the unenviable title of the first Australian captain in more than a century to lose two series in England. He will be under great pressure to atone at home. The enemy This time, England will be without their talisman Andrew ‘Freddie’ Flintoff, who sadly for the game at large had to hang up his boots due to his dicky knees. While many here thought his messianic wicket celebrations OTT, at least on a par with Warne’s much maligned stump dance, he was that once-in-a-generation player who could lift an entire team, and a nation, on his one good leg. One can only
wonder how good he could’ve been but for the physical demands of modern cricket, with its many sideshows for the attention-poor and cash-hungry. In full cry, he was every bit as good as Botham, if not better. Freddie, however, is unlikely to miss Australia, where he carried on like a Coogee Bay backpacker rather than an England captain in that disastrous 2006-07 series. Much like ‘Sir Beefy’ before him, the captaincy would prove to be a weight too great to bear for an all-rounder even of such rare ability and popularity. England will need all the grit of Strauss, Bell and Collingwood, the guile of Swann and the Dr Jekyll side of Kevin Pietersen, if picked, to engineer their first away win over the colonial upstarts since the likes of Gatting, Botham and Gower in 1986-87. Surly choir boy, Stuart Broad, whose father was in that side, will want to keep his head Down Under, for he is sure to come in for some sledging. Which brings us to one of the best Ashes sledges of all time, from tail-ender Jimmy Ormond, in 2001. When Mark Waugh questioned his worthiness to represent England, he retorted, “At least I’m the best player in my family.” So in that spirit we hope for hard pitches, sunny days, tough contests and witty banter, and that Customs confiscates any confectionery from the England players’ kit bags on arrival.
‘we hope for hard pitches, sunny days, tough contests and witty banter’
Hussey leg glances
The Gold Room By Denson Pierre
Test match cricket is like active field chess, it has been said. Football and fantasy football in particular, however, can more easily be likened to poker. With so many early-season injuries and key selections failing, a prompt and drastic tactic has been introduced by one of the managers in the FFG-CL. It is a manoeuvre similar to making a substantial bluff in the card game, which runs a 50% chance of either intimidating other players and getting an advantageous boost from their confusion about the simple forecast sums involved, or ending up as a ploy that will leave his team stranded by February; playing with less than a full complement and hoping that his riskily assembled team can hold on and continue to be heavy scorers up to and through the last ten weeks of competition. This is a daring gambit. ‘Comply or Die’ screams the team name and the challenge is now opened up to the other high rollers. It is too early for us to profile and rate teams, though. That process tends to make more sense when Premier League clubs have properly settled into their playing rhythm and formation, which tends to take place just after the ten-league-game mark. Only then does it become clear how teams really mean to approach the insanely congested mid-season period. With Gijs Smeets’ team, we have to look carefully to find possible future weaknesses, as current assessment confirms an extremely high concentration of form players from top teams, assembled to negatively affect the confidence of his rivals. Gijs has already bled his substitute reserve bank by using up six of his twelve available transfers and will have to hold on to the belief that the likes of Charlie Adam (Blackpool), Marouane Fellaini (Everton), Paul Konchesky (Liverpool) and John O’Shea (Manchester United) can maintain high-yield performance levels unhindered by injury, loss of form or inability to keep their place in their respective starting XIs over the following three months, at least. Keep your eyes on developments in the FFG-CL table over the coming weeks to see how the master fantasy managers, presently lagging behind, go about reeling Comply or Die back in before 2011. Full team details are available at: http://thesentinel.eu/ffg/Latest-FFG.htm
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