Thursday, 9 November 2006

How Polly Might See Things (If She Liked Cricket)

Giles plays in Ashes tour opener

England fans last saw Ashley Giles bowl in a Test 12 months ago
Ashley Giles will play for the first time in a year as England begin their Ashes tour in Canberra.

The spinner, who has played no cricket in 2006 after undergoing two hip operations, said: "We all want to impress and none more than me.

"I want to be playing in the Test team but we also play as a squad, so I'll back whoever is picked."

England face a Prime Minister's XI which features fast bowler Shaun Tait and leg-spin all-rounder Cameron White.

England captain Andrew Flintoff, who has bowled just five competitive overs since recovering from ankle surgery, will look to increase his workload in the one-day match.

Marcus Trescothick, Alastair Cook, Matthew Hoggard, Geraint Jones, Monty Panesar and Liam Plunkett - all of whom missed the Champions Trophy - are also set to play.

White, who will lead the invitational side, said he understood the significance of Tait's appearance as he is on the fringes of Australia's Test squad.

White said: "I'll be giving him as much freedom as he has in state cricket."

Australian Prime Minister John Howard is a lifelong cricket fan and believes the Ashes series is set to be the most compelling he can remember.

"I think every cricket lover would like to see it close. I expect Australia to regain the Ashes. I'm not only hopeful, I'm confident," he told BBC Sport.

"But I don't take the view that it will be anything other than keenly fought and I hope it is."

The first Test is in Brisbane and begins on 23 November.

The discussions surrounding the selection for the first Test show the cricket world up for what it is: white middle class men making sure their own nests are feathered. What could be more outrageous than a privileged man like Ashley Giles actually claiming a spot back in the England side ahead of the courageous Monty Panesar? Some people say Giles can bat and Panesar can't: but that is just typical of the quality-obsessed world of cricket. It is a disgrace if Panesar doesn't play. Why is ability to bat more important than ethnic origin? And if Panesar does play it is a disgrace too: we have had more than enough religion in this benighted world of ours and to allow a man who actually flaunts his belief in public is offensive to the world's 5 billion atheists, who will be alienated from cricket as a result. For Giles to say that he will be "looking to impress" after his hip operation is a slur on the good men and women of the NHS - it should be obvious that his operation was impressive; unless he went private, in which case it is appalling that a man who betrayed his National Health Service should be representing England (an offensive enough concept as it is). The suggestion that the only working class man in the side, Andrew Flintoff, will be "looking to increase his workload" is another example of the rich exploiting the poor. In the end, as usual, it's all about class. And I am left speechless about the call to militarism expressed at the end: words like "fought" have a long history of being used as excuses for battle and inhumane treatment of fellow persons. It just shows the psychological state of these middle class white men, or it shows that they are just not examining their prejudices. Either way, I am disgusted.

(goes and lies down in a light-decreased room, until the absence of light makes her think of the dark days of Thatcherism/Majorism).

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