The Battle Renewed

Published: 2007
Pages: 268
Author: Frith, David
Publisher: ABC Books
Rating: 3 stars

The Battle Renewed

David Frith, one of the greatest of all extant or extinct cricket writers, has tried to bring the 2006/07 Ashes Test series to life. A fine analysis of selections and tactics, an interesting coverage of controversies off the field, nostalgia of past contests and even superstitious portents, David Frith supplies all of this.

But even this great writer can’t sustain interest in a series that was overall extremely one sided. Maybe it was the sheer amount of media coverage, but there was not a lot to learn from the authors discourse of the actual play. Still there was a lot to learn about the peripheral goings on, with Frith not afraid to criticise officialism or the on field behaviour of current players.

It is hard not to agree with most of this thought provoking criticism such as: “The grotesque match in Sydney in October 2005, an event woefully accorded Test status by an International Cricket Council that will do almost anything to make money” On Harmison treating “autograph hunters with disdain”…”There are modern cricketers who sign gladly as long as they sense the cameras are on them.

But too many – Kevin Pietersen was another – look straight through innocent fans, young and old, and brush past them as if they simply do not exist.”

“A topical matter has been featherbed pitches which were being prepared all over the world. Should they be tolerated? Who is to blame? ICC? or Cricket Australia, who many people suspected of craving five full days of cricket for maximum gate takings. One certain thing is that if we want the refreshing alternative form of Test cricket – skilled, fighting batsmanship on a damp pitch – we now have to resort to old film”.

Frith quotes Malcolm Conn on Monty Panesar having an illegal sized logo on his pads, and the game being stopped to have the offending writing covered up. “It’s good to see the game’s governors occupying themselves with such detail while alleged drug cheats go free, bowlers can throw their way to hundreds of wickets, umpires are sacked for simply doing their job and Zimbabwe, the corrupt and useless pariah of international cricket, will be allowed to play Test cricket again next year.”

Frith was also very critical of umpire Rudi Koertzen suggesting he is well past his best. David Frith suggests this may be the last Ashes series he covers, let’s hope he changes his mind, after all he hints towards the Poms winning in 2009 and he deserves to go out covering an exciting Ashes contest.

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