Wednesday 12 May 2010


As anyone who works out or knows anything about bodybuilding understands, there is one immutable law of muscle. To make it grow, you must break it down, destroy its fibres. Stressed to failure, it responds by getting stronger.

If you get it right, if you're genetically blessed and chemically enhanced and fed and watered just so, if you're prepared to let a single goal consume your life, you might end up something like this fella. This is Ronnie Coleman, an eight time winner of the Mr Olympia title, winning in 2003. It was a year when Coleman's mighty rule had come under challenge, and he responded by hiding away at his gym in Arlington, Texas for 12 months before reappearing on stage in Vegas carrying more muscle than perhaps any human being ever has. In 2003, Ronnie Coleman was intergalactically huge. He blew the rest of the world away.

The Australian T20 side put me in mind of Ronnie Coleman the other day. Stressed to failure, they have responded by growing stronger. They've reappeared in the West Indies juiced up, oiled and loaded, formidably freakish at the top of the order in both batting and bowling. They're carrying some serious muscle and they're blowing the world away.

T20 cricket is slowly being ramped to extremes. Who knows where it will end. At the outer limits of speed and power, probably. Can anyone stop Australia this time? Oddly, maybe Pakistan, with their left-field, out there wildcards, stand a better chance than those who would fight fire with fire. One thing's for sure: the rest will respond to muscle with more muscle next time. There's no going back from here.


Brit said...

Ronnie Coleman makes me feel physically ill. (As does the Aussie cricket team, come to think of it.)

Tony.T said...

"One thing's for sure: the rest will respond to muscle with more muscle next time."

Is that not the way sport should be?

The Old Batsman said...

Brit, yes, the only way to look at him is as an abstract. Then it kind of makes sense.

Tony, I suppose it should - the reason I thought of bodybuilding is that it's one of those arms-race sports where there's a single, ever more extreme goal. Bit like the 100m - once you've seen Usain Bolt do it in 9.5, you can't sell a ticket to watch someone do it in 9.9 any more. I think T20 cricket has too many subtleties for that, but there will be periods of its development where it's just about getting faster and stronger.

12th Man said...

The Australian batsmen haven't been so invincible this time. Their batting failed on two occasions. If Pakistan do manage to restrict them to a low total, the likes of Tait, Nannes and Johnson might still not be able to run through Pakistan. Juggernauts? I kinda doubt.

Mark said...

There'll always be a place for spin and changes of pace in T20 - a sort of 'rope-a-dope' strategy.

But a batsman who can't hit boundaries with some regularity is going to struggle.