Saturday 29 August 2009

Ooh beehive yourselves: The Phil Space Awards 2009

And so as their names pass into history, these men of the Ashes, summer 2009 - Hayward, Barnes, Syed, Williams, Freedland, Logan [well okay, the last one's a woman, but the art of filling space acknowledges no frontiers] - their guns are silent now, but we shall remember them...

Er, well, after a fashion, anyway. The chief sportswriters of the land began the Ashes with a transparent agenda: that it was going to be exactly like 2005 and that Andrew Flintoff was the man to make it so.

Yet after tremulous columns were held aloft by herculean prose post-Cardiff, fire was slowly drawn by a series and a player that refused to conform. Never mind. For a glorious few weeks, the papers glowed purple, omens were over-read, cricketers were not men but cultural symbols. And then it all got... weird. Let the ceremony commence: 

Best single paragraph 
Paul Hayward, Observer
'He [Flintoff] is a country charging into bowl, a culture brandishing a bat. To attack him is to poke the beehive of his nature, which survives the ravages of injury and calls to the night-porter to keep on coming with the tray of drinks'.

Best analogy
Simon Barnes, Times
'Sometimes Flintoff will turn himself into a Rodin statue, holding a vigorous pose to indicate extremes of emotion. There he stood, legs planted wide, head bowed, hands clasping head: Freddie Agonistes'.

Biggest understatement
Paul Hayward, Guardian
'Flintoff is the Ashes in single human form. The story flows through him like the Taff flows through Cardiff'.

Best theme for single column
'On looks, this Ashes series would be no contest', Gabby Logan, Times
'The Aussies sent here to try to retain the Ashes just aren't as beautiful as our boys. Think about Bopara, James Anderson Stuart Broad and Alastair Cook...' 

Most Promising Newcomer
'I Never Understood People's Fixation With Cricket - Now I've Joined Them' - Jonathan Freedland, Guardian
'On match days it required monastic degrees of willpower not to hit refresh at five minute intervals to find out what new ordeal fate had meted out to the England cricket team. I might be faced with a stunning Albigensian castle or the gorgeous, sparkling Canal Du Midi, but still my thumb itched to find out if Anderson had broken through...'

Best Celebrity Endorsement
Richard Williams, Guardian
'I'm interested in Lily Allen. Not in her music, I'm afraid, or in most other aspects of the life and career that have made her into a sort of national treasure by the age of 24. But if the singer of Smile and The Fear is the shape of cricket supporters to come, then bring on the multitudes... She likes Flintoff and Onions and Broad.'

And finally...

The Phil Space Award 2009
For Outstanding Achievement in space filling
Matthew Syed, Times
Judge's Commendation: Syed's ability to restate the obvious at extraordinary length and in florid detail made him a worthy winner - Well done, Matthew!
'Romantic relationships are, I am told, all about chemistry and watching the Ashes you get the same feeling about sporting relationships. English and Australian cricket have what is known as a long-term relationship: it started not with a kiss but with the first Ashes Test in 1882'.

Here's to the next four years!


Brit said...

The Beehive of His Nature would be an excellent title for an epic poem in Flintoff's honour. I shall get busy on it.

The Old Batsman said...

Yes do it - it'll be a marvellous spin-off for the boy Hayward. Make sure you work in the phrase 'beware, ape, beware', too, from that bloke on your blog. Jeez, he needs to relax, doesn't he...?

Brit said...

Well Paul "Not Posh" Kingsnorth certainly needs to stop using his Google alert to refute objectionable bloggers. No good can come of it: if you make your living Being Controversial on the internet, there will always be someone somewhere being objectionable about you (especially if you also write fabulously bad award-winning poetry).

Ceci said...

Splendid choices - the Paul Hayward definitely one for heroic declaration a la Laurence Oliver in Henry Five