Rod Liddle

Win the Ashes, get ignored

Win the Ashes, get ignored
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Does anyone remember the England cricket team? Roger Alton makes the very good point in his Spectator sport column this week, while flicking through the runners and riders for this year’s Sports Personality of the Year, that really the England captain Andrew Strauss should win:

"...but it seems we’ve almost forgotten that we regained the Ashes this year – that shadow of 2005 stretches very long..."

Well, quite. Last week the British sports journalists association did indeed vote for the England cricket team as their team of the year – but the women, not the men. They are a notoriously perverse and pompous bunch, the sports journalists, who treat their coverage of various agreeable past-times with a grim seriousness and inflated sense of worth – but this decision is pushing it even for them. Charlotte Edwards’ team excelled themselves in winning the World Cup – but then they win the World Cup reasonably often, just as they have dominance in the Ashes. The men who are competing against players drawn from, shall we say, a rather broader sample space, on the whole, do not.

England’s win in the summer was only the second in 20 years and, unlike in 2005, had not been the subject of fevered speculation. Perhaps that’s why the journos were quick to write off the victory the very next day in the papers – that it did not compare to previous triumphs, wasn’t quite up to the mark. Australia was a team shorn of its Seans and Shanes and therefore not much to write home about. I disagree; it was a victory plucked from great adversity with injuries crippling our two most talismanic players, Flintoff and Pietersen, and the rest of the team cheerfully maiming itself playing football in the warm up.

Maybe the BBC will put it right, but I doubt it. As Alton says: “the cause of our best skipper for ages isn’t helped by his deeds being confined to Sky.”