• Ashes is an important series

    In exactly a week's time, the first ball might be sent down in one of the most anticipated Test series of the year -- The Ashes. And given the manner in which the subcontinent is quite shamelessly offering a dull view of Test cricket in recent times with flat wickets by the matches, The Ashes could well, I hope, dish out what it has always been about -- Test cricket at a level typified by its rich intensity, unrivaled passion and unmatched dynamism. The Ashes of 2010 comes at a time when cricket is in dire need of a folklore to talk about, a cricketer whose achievements could capture a nation's imagination, with cricket being his tool of expression -- someone not quite dissimilar to the Freddie "Jesus" Flintoff of Lord's fame. And that's where I believe the Ashes is an important cricketing series.

     

    Add history, and it gives the contest a sense of context, a past that went on to define the game through its complex yet contrasting narratives. The dominant theme of this year's Ashes

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  • When Punter waxed sardonically that Australia would shellack England 5-0 this summer in the Ashes, it seemed like he was just putting it on to uphold tradition. At best, his claim came as a puny reminder of past editions, where that cranky ole codger Pigeon took it upon himself to put the irons in the fire in advance of the impending party with the Poms. That used to be Glenn McGrath's designated role. He did it best - even in 2005, when he was forced to eat humble (pigeon) pie and watch grumpily as Freddie and gang set about busting up the Aussies.

     

    Aah, Pigeon!

     

    The last images of him we have from the cricket field are those of him lounging in deck chairs boundary-side during the IPL in South Africa, looking like an irritated schoolmaster clad in pajamas. But as the Aussies hunker down for the Ashes this summer, his name will pop up again and again as the five match series unfolds. I don't think we realize how much we really miss that tetchy old dog in the Aussie lineup -- or in

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  • They came to India as no hopers. Having just lost a one day series 4-0 in Bangladesh they could hardly have been in a confident frame of mind when they landed in this country to take on India in a three-Test series. The cynics were talking of a clean sweep and there was talk of the lustrous batting line-up running up all sorts of records against the innocuous bowling. After all, the Indian team had proved too strong for Australia in the two-Test contest, were the No 1 Test team and were particularly formidable at home having lost just one series in the last ten years. New Zealand on the other hand had a forgettable record in India having won just two Tests and lost ten. The odds were heavily stacked in favour of the home side.

     

    And yet, two-thirds of the way into the series the visitors have more than held their own and in fact had India in a precious situation in the first Test. Only once before in their long history have India made a worse start than the 15 for five they were

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