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The Ashes have become like an Adam Sandler movie

Dane Eldridge Columnist

By Dane Eldridge, Dane Eldridge is a Roar Expert

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    Once a compelling and anticipated cinematic masterpiece, the Ashes is currently a predictable 83-minute comedy.

    Like the contemporary works of Adam Sandler, each ‘new’ incarnation of the product now pitches the same faces against familiar backdrops, always producing predictable outcomes and clownish behaviour.

    New releases are made biennially with modest tweaks to script, with the characters re-engineered and tropes updated for modern times.

    But ultimately, the box office suffers, with the only windfall coming in the number of dead rubbers.

    As you can see, the similarities between Sandler and the Ashes are jarring. The only real difference is cricket’s greater chance of an Oscar, and that Steve Buscemi probably would’ve bowled in Sydney.

    Seeing cricket’s most storied contest reduced to such a comparison wouldn’t have been so concerning once upon a time, but unfortunately we’re all not 15 and stoned anymore.

    Face it, the Ashes are in a tired state of routine. Here is the synopsis.

    Underprepared visitors implode on the road, something dumb happens off the field, home fans offend someone, comparisons are made to Bradman/Botham, the fizz is taken out of the contest at the earliest possible junction, all the while George Bailey performs pleasant deeds.

    Then, the Urn switches ownership until the next custody ‘battle’.

    It must be acknowledged that this time around, Australia slightly dragged the chain. They had to wait until day five of the third match to complete the job, but at least it was wrapped up in time for Christmas last year.

    Pat Cummins

    (Photo by Cameron Spencer/Getty Images)

    Thanks to painstaking pitches and the reduced attention spans caused by smartphones, most will recall the series as Steve Smith murdering throwdowns for six weeks to the soundtrack of the BCF jingle.

    But outside of this, the series is only distinguished from the others by the fart jokes.

    James Anderson’s slapstick columns, Bob Hawke choking on a brewsky, spot fixing stings, a pre-match focussed on Christchurch, and a nagging reminder to enjoy a drink at The Avenue Hotel sometime.

    But other than that, it was just another re-flogged Grown Ups.

    So how do we ensure the Ashes remain exciting and uncertain, and not permanently reduced to an unforgettable straight-to-DVD film?

    Better pitches, a higher standard of warm-up games, or perhaps even just a warm-up game? Do we ban Dukes, ban Kookaburras, or just ban balls?

    Or is the modern player’s inability to adjust destined to see the series plummet to the lowest ebb of desperately reinventing itself in arthouse roles?

    Nevertheless, I will continue to religiously watch the Ashes in the grave hope of the next magical 2005, much like I do with every Sandler film released. This is despite the tone of this article implying I am an elitist cinema enthusiast who only consumes his ‘fil-lums’ at The Dendy.

    Until then, bring on 2019’s version of The Handover.

    Dane Eldridge
    Dane Eldridge

    Dane was named best and fairest in the 2004 Bathurst mixed indoor cricket competition. With nothing in the game left to achieve, he immediately retired at his peak to a reclusive life ensconced in the velvet of organised contests. Catch the man on Twitter @eld2_0.

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    The Crowd Says (27)

    • January 10th 2018 @ 4:06am
      Chris Love said | January 10th 2018 @ 4:06am | ! Report

      If Australia was really serious about ticking off one of Steve Smith’s bucket list items, then an extended squad needs to hit England at least two months out from the first test with a 4 day game play against a county side each week for 8 weeks. Then pick the first test side and go from there with a pick and stick policy.

      • January 10th 2018 @ 6:26pm
        Bakkies said | January 10th 2018 @ 6:26pm | ! Report

        Most of the squad will be there as the World Cup is on in England.

        Bancroft and Mitch Marsh have already County deals for 2018.

    • January 10th 2018 @ 4:13am
      Couch cricket said | January 10th 2018 @ 4:13am | ! Report

      Spoken like a true T20 fan.
      If that’s all you make of the specified then I suspect your sufforing from the same technology induced attention span reduction that you’re trying to lampoon. Hypocrisy.

      • January 10th 2018 @ 9:29am
        Matthew said | January 10th 2018 @ 9:29am | ! Report

        Completely agree. It wasn’t awfully exciting because of the pitches, but test match cricket is a 5 day game. We have become a nation that is fast paced, which is fine, but as a cricket fan sit back and enjoy the tight tussle that is essentially a tranquil natured part of the sport – TEST CRICKET.

        If you don’t like it, don’t watch it, but that means you are not a real cricket fan.

      • January 10th 2018 @ 11:44am
        AndyFNQ said | January 10th 2018 @ 11:44am | ! Report

        Couch Cricket agree completely, good series only marred by drop in pitches (yuk) and England’s lack of talent – but that is something cyclical that every side has to go through every now and again, they will improve eventually. Still a far superior game than T20 and I can’t wait for the next one!

        • January 10th 2018 @ 1:03pm
          bobbo7 said | January 10th 2018 @ 1:03pm | ! Report

          The pitches made for a pretty boring series. Australia’s far superior bowling attack in these conditions pretty much ensured Australia would grind out the win.

          I was following the SA / India test the other night – something like 18 wickets in 64 overs – now as a batsman that is a Test.

    • January 10th 2018 @ 6:17am
      Zozza said | January 10th 2018 @ 6:17am | ! Report

      The Poms will get another hiding in NZ.

    • Roar Guru

      January 10th 2018 @ 8:27am
      DingoGray said | January 10th 2018 @ 8:27am | ! Report

      Jackson Bird is now Bobby Boucher!

    • Roar Rookie

      January 10th 2018 @ 8:51am
      Disco Stu said | January 10th 2018 @ 8:51am | ! Report

      You’re targeting the wrong villain here. Barring an overblown emphasis on some mythical need to sledge opponents to death, there is nothing wrong with The Ashes or Test Cricket in general.

      The major difference in this series was the gulf in ability of the two teams. That is no fault of The Ashes. It’s simply part of the cycle of any nation based sport. Teams like Man U, or The Patriots or even The Storm stock their roster by buying the best players, so they can be expected to maintain a strong roster. A country, however, can only pick their team from who is available, and at the moment England has a drought. They will find their fast bowlers. They’ll find their spinner. They’ll find some batters. The Ashes you are pining for, maybe the Bradman days or perhaps the 70’s days of flowing hair, sideburns and evenly matched contests, were simply a product of both teams synchronising their strong rosters. Both teams had good fast bowlers and strong batters. In time that will happen again. This Aussie team has the makings of a good side for some years to come if they all stay fit, so if England can find some players in a year or two we will have some good contests coming soon.

      The other main symptom, again not the fault of The Ashes or Test Cricket, is the unfortunate drive for efficiency, economy and automation in pitch preparation. In days gone by the pitches in Australia all had their unique characteristics and were much less predicable. They were much more ‘human’ in their preparation and they were what they were. Our batters played on pitches where the ball would move a bit more unpredictably, so when we went to England the conditions were not so alien. Now the pitches are, for reasons of automation and the desire for crowd pleasing runfests and maximum gate attendances, less lively and more predictable. You can’t blame that on The Ashes.

      And please don’t forget, the last Ashes series in England was very much a contest. The series scoreline proceeded through: 1-0, 1-1, 2-1, 3-1, 3-2. That’s surely not bad for a hard fought contest.

      • January 10th 2018 @ 11:48am
        AndyFNQ said | January 10th 2018 @ 11:48am | ! Report

        Disco Stu agree completely particularly about the pitches. Drop in pitches are the devil’s work and will ruin test cricket in Australia if CA can’t grow a pair sooner or later and stand up to the AFL. The SCG and Gabba get along fine without drop in’s time for the other stadiums to follow suit.

      • January 10th 2018 @ 1:18pm
        beepee said | January 10th 2018 @ 1:18pm | ! Report

        Yes, Stu, I thought the pitches were a real disappointment, and probably have been for a while now, in Australia. The other issue, alluded to above, is that a cricket tour is nothing like the tours of past eras, where the touring side had ample prep games, and then in between tests, they played all the state sides and a few other games beside. A modern tour simply crams in the 5 tests as quickly as possible, making sure to include boxing day in Melbourne, and New Year in Sydney. The touring team are just getting used to foreign conditions, and they’re off home. Shame really…the longer tours had some real atmosphere about them.

    • January 10th 2018 @ 9:35am
      Don Freo said | January 10th 2018 @ 9:35am | ! Report

      Which Sandler movie was that?

      • January 11th 2018 @ 12:18am
        peter chrisp said | January 11th 2018 @ 12:18am | ! Report

        I’d say all of them

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