Editor Steve writes:
Over the years, no-one has written more words for 51allout than Matt Larnach. Yes, many of them were spelt incorrectly and they were often separated by semi-colons when a colon was clearly required. But it was nothing that a diligent editor couldn’t solve over the course of many, many hours, with the assistance of a glass or two of gin. Apart from when he did the Twitter, which would cause yours truly to wince with every punctuation error as it headed out to more than 3k people.
Although this looks like an unruly editor taking advantage of his power to call attention to crimes against the English language, the reason that I mention Matt is that he’s finally run out of words to write and has decided to hang up his boots. Instead, he’ll be spending his days allegedly doing work, while also playing something called Gary Grigsby’s War in the Pacific (Guadalcanal campaign). No, I have no idea either.
Like everybody who leaves a job, Matt left a bunch of work unfinished, in the form of some half-written articles. In the absence of literally anything else at all, I’ve edited them into shape. Before I present the first of them, I just wanted to say thanks to Matt for all his hard work and present him with his leaving gift:
Aussie Matt writes:
Some very worrying sentiments were prevalent during the Ashes series. Some people professed to not only admiring the professional manner in which Australia went about dismantling the tourists, they even admitted to liking them. Obviously, this concept did not sit well with many at all. Australia are not to be liked. Never to be liked. Any suggestion that they are likeable indicates serious inconsistencies within the essential ordering of space, time and all that stuff. Thank god, then, for David Warner.
Obviously, those who are committed to hating Australia no matter what had no need of Warner’s latest escapades to convince them of the righteousness of their views. These are the sort of people who took Nathan Lyon’s obvious PR stunt on the eve of the Ashes at absolute face value. But for everyone else (i.e. normal people), Australia won the Ashes playing hard but fair. The way cricket should be played.
That has now all gone out the window in South Africa, sparking yet another highly amusing round of hand-wringing circus of ‘won’t anyone think of the children?’ And whilst players acting like dicks is perhaps not quite the look cricket is trying to advertise more broadly, at least it demonstrates one thing above all else: the players actually give a shit.
This is a period in which cricketers are increasingly giving away the red ball to become limited-overs specialists, in which the IPL increasingly continues to bend the ICC, and the cricketing world at large, round its little finger, while competing domestic competitions like the Big Bash grow ever more bloated. Yes, the Ashes may have been well attended, but how many of those will back for non-Ashes Tests? Not many. This is a trend that even the ICC are (belatedly) trying to fight back against. In this context the demonstration, even if it might not be palatable to some, that cricketers still give a flying fuck about Test cricket is a more than welcome sight to us. It shows that at least they care enough to get riled up.
Warner himself could so easily be yet another limited overs mercenary. There is no real reason, from a financial perspective anyway, for him to be spending so much time being a Test cricketer. It would be far more beneficial if he instead travelled the world milking the various domestic T20 scenes and making himself so rich he could build a whole house out of his beloved LG OLED TV’s.
The same goes for Quinton de Kock and Virat Kohli. But instead, not only are they playing Test cricket, they are getting worked up about it too. There is no going through the motions here; no Chris Gayle or Marlon Samuels-esque lazing around, looking bored, and generally waiting for it all to be over so they can get to the short stuff. There is actual passion being shown.
Meanwhile, the argument that Warner’s antics serve only as a distraction seems strange to us. Surely if you are focusing on what Warner, de Kock et al did or did not get up to, that is a conscious choice you are making. You are choosing to focus on soap opera distractions over the cricket itself. Nothing that went on off-field needs to distract from what went on it. It’s funny that the media often takes this line, handwringing about ‘distractions’, all the while pumping out story after story about it.
People will still get upset about Warner getting mouthy and claim that he is bringing the game into disrepute, whilst failing to acknowledge he is one of the best examples of the continuing importance of Test cricket to the players themselves. We’ve seen countless examples in recent years of teams just rolling over in Test cricket and succumbing to the seemingly inevitable (admittedly mostly involving the West Indies). Or series with barely any points of interest in them at all. Those series are killing Test cricket, not David Warner.
If people hating Australia again is necessary for the continuing health of Test cricket, so be it. Think how much better the next Ashes series will be if everyone returns to passionately hating Warner again, rather than just finding him mildly annoying as they did last time. And if Australia getting in their faces sparks this South African team into action, so much the better too. With Steyn due to return a couple of weeks, and de Villiers reminded that this is the most competitive format of the game, bar none, we’re in for a proper series now. For all of which we can thank one David Warner for so publically giving the ants nest one massive boot. Thank you, David. And God bless you.