Thursday, 22 January 2009

Haigh and mighty

Gideon Haigh's farewell to Matthew Hayden in today's Guardian was a couple of weeks late, but to mangle a cliche, if it's good enough who cares how old it is?

Haigh's is very good indeed, and he seems as engaged as everyone else by Hayden. Writers love an enigma, and Hayden's character and career are divisive things, inherently contradictory. 

He pulls out a glorious stat and a raging sledge to make an incisive point. The stat is that Hayden averaged 67 under the captaincy of Steve Waugh and 41 elsewhere. The sledge came after he took Zaheer Khan apart in the World Cup Final. 'Smell that Z?' he said. 'That's your house in India burning down'.

Haydos was Waugh's battering ram, the bull-chested alpha-male given license to mete out the mental disintegration. The pay-off for Hayden was the peace that continuity offered him. 

Haigh began his piece with some EJ Thribb: 'So Farewell then Haydos/mental disintegration/That was your catchphrase/Keith's mum pointed out that you have a higher test average than either Viv Richards or Denis Compton/But I found you about as interesting as your nickname'.

That's part of the reason why Haigh can write about Hayden two weeks late and still be worth reading. It's also part of the reason why the media should not consist solely of ex-cricketers. 

Further evidence was provided by another of today's intros, this one from Mike Atherton. 'In this week of fresh starts and renewed hope,' he wrote, 'has English cricket found, in Andrew Strauss, its Barack Obama?' 

That is probably the single most stupid sentence in all of the newspapers this year, and I'm including the Daily Mail. Private Eye run a regular round-up of tenuous and tortuous analogies made by hacks attempting to link their unrelated copy into the big story of the day. If Atherton doesn't make the Obama-Balls section, I'll eat Channel 9's Baggy Green ceramic replica.




4 comments:

Moses @ Beer and Sport said...

I've heard a variation of that sledge before:

“Well, Zed, there’ll be some houses burnt down in India tonight and the way you’ve bowled, yours could be the first.”

It was never attributed to a player, however I narrowed it down to Gilly, Hayden, Ponting or Martyn as no-one else got a bat ;)

What's Atherton been smoking? Strauss isn't even black!

There seems to be lots of comparisons of Hayden to other entities, I think of him as a Venus Williams type of character..

Damith S. said...

Strauss to Obama ? Who on earth would see the Wing Commander as some sort of messiah ? Crazy ! KP might have been a better fit!

The Old Batsman said...

Of the four, in order of likelihood I'd go Hayden, Ponting, Martyn, Gilly... I want it to be Hayden tho'...

Strauss and Obama - two men who shall forever be linked in Athers' mind...

achettup said...

LOL, that is a killer... I like some of Athers stuff but that is just plain ridiculous. The sledge sounds apocryphal to me... but really could only be Hayden or Ponting (more likely)