The Ashes are back in England’s custody but unlike four years back when the celebrations were massive with an open bus-top ride followed by reception at the Prime Minister’s house, this time around it has been fairly muted. Perhaps with the One-day series still left to be played and the memory of the whitewash in the next 2006-07 Ashes series may have led to the subdued celebrations. Last time the Queen honoured Ashes-winning England squad with CBEs and MBEs.
A lot was made about the MBE given to Paul Collingwood for scoring barely 10 or 20 runs in the only Test he played then and was mentioned by Shane Warne more than a few times this summer. Mind you the Aussie celebrations are invariably written about as a great bonding exercise even if it is a win after losing a series like when they won the last Test against South Africa after having lost the previous two Tests.
At that time the celebrations got a touch nasty when Simon Katich is said to have grabbed Michael Clarke by the throat when he wanted to leave the dressing room at 10 pm, which is a good four hours after the last ball had been bowled. It is for this reason that one feels that a lot of the so-called traditions are imposed and not spontaneous.
The Australians have what is called a ticker tape parade when they win big events like the World Cup or when they win the Ashes especially if they have been lost to England for some series. That’s why it was hard to understand Andrew Symonds’ whinge about the rapturous welcome given to Mahendra Singh Dhoni’s boys when they won the ICC Twenty20 in South Africa two years back. Dhoni’s team was taken in an open bus top all the way from Mumbai airport to the Wankhede stadium where they were given a huge reception by the BCCI.
That was only the second win for India in a world tourney in cricket unless of course one takes into account the World Championship of Cricket win two years after the 1983 World Cup win as a world event too.
England’s win has gone down well with the cricketing world, which was waiting for the Aussie dominance and the attitude that came with it to be brought down a notch or two. Thankfully the Brit media hasn’t gone overboard and started calling its team World Champions but are realistic enough to suggest that the tour to South Africa later in the year will be the one to show how far England rank in world cricket.
Back home in India, the BCCI deserve plaudits for starting the Corporate Cup. It is an initiative that will not only give employment opportunities to those players who may never play for India but also give good competition to the international players as they prepare for bigger battles in the season ahead. Unsurprisingly there was criticism from some sections of the media for curtailing a training camp to allow players to play in the Corporate Cup but isn’t actual match practice better than just playing against a bowling machine or just rolling the arm over in net sessions?