War of words intensifies!

Published: Nov 28, 2010, 00:43 IST | Khalid A-H Ansari

There is an intense battle on between English and Australian media on the sidelines of the Ashes

There is an intense battle on between English and Australian media on the sidelines of the Ashes

A fellow journalist who works for The Australian newspaper recently wrote: "England only loves the Ashes when it wins them: for Australia the opposite seems to apply".

To which one may add: Ditto, ditto the media of the two countries, currently embroiled in a dog-eat-dog newspaper 'jihad' on the sidelines of the Ashes.

Reportage in the English media following England's trials and tribulations on Day One of the ongoing first Test at Brisbane's Gabba has had the Australian media in splits on its sports pages.

"They brashly declared victory before the first ball had been bowled, but England's bragging was quickly silenced after the day's play", Sydney's The Telegraph exulted after the cocky tourists had been bundled out for a pedestrian 260 on a wicket that held no devils.

It quotes London's normally staid The Telegraph newspaper as jumping into the fray with the chauvinistic headline: "May the best team win (so long as it's England).

London's Daily Mirror, ostensibly punch-drunk after England's recent impressive performances, saucily challenged: "Bring on Those Saggy Greens" in a swipe at Australia's much-ballyhooed traditional baggy green cap.

Andrew Strauss

The paper went on to quote captain Andrew Strauss, who was out for a duck off the third ball of the match, bragging that England, who have not won a Test at the venue since the 1986-87 series, had the "firepower to leave fortress Gabba in ruins."

"England have warned Australia that the walls of their Brisbane fortress will come crumbling down," Strauss is reported as saying.

The tabloid termed Australian captain Ricky Ponting a "three-time" loser.

"You're once, twice, three times a loser (and we love you for that,") it sneered.

In a call to arms, the Daily Express announced in a back page headline: "Destiny Calls" and "We've nothing to fear now."

'Best'
It quoted Strauss saying of his cock-a-hoop side, currently no 4 in the ICC Test rankings, way behind top-of-the-table India: "We want to be the best side in the world."

The Daily Star, not particularly renowned for its restraint, brazenly predicted: "Strauss to make Aussies squirm" and the Sun proclaimed "Skipper Strauss so sure his lads can bash the Aussies."

Peter Siddle's hat-trick on his 26th birthday, and his six wicket haul (it would have been seven but for a dropped catch) won grudging mention in the barrage of one-sided reporting in the Old Country with England's inadequate total attributed to "below-par" batting and "nerves" rather than inspired bowling by Siddle, a surprise, last-minute inclusion in the side in place of Douglas Bollinger.

The (erstwhile) venerable London Times was more forthright yesterday.

"They (the Australian bowlers) didn't bowl like a bunch of world-beaters -- they bowled like men uninspired," their cricket correspondent Simon Barnes wrote.

"They looked like second-raters. England were unable to take advantage of a genuine opportunity because they didn't believe they were good enough."

In a reference to captain Strauss's pre-Test resolve to be "unemotional and logical", Barnes wrote: "(You might) as well try to stay unemotional and logical when you take your beloved to bed for the first time." 

Former England captain Nasser Hussain, who Indian cricket fans remember for his unsporting, Jardine-like negative tactics, wrote in The Daily Mail:

"England should be kicking themselves. Australia's attack looked pretty ordinary most of the time and, in a sense, Siddle has glossed over some of their issues.

"For large chunks of the day they looked exactly what they are: the team ranked fifth in the world.

"And that's why England will be all the more infuriated to have been bowled out for 260."

With their team in dire straits at the end of the third day yesterday, it should be entertaining to read the jaundiced hogwash the oh-so-superior English cricket writers dish out this Sunday morning.

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