Five times a decade England and Australia declare war. Not the military kind, if that were the case England would crush Australia every time with their vastly superior forces. No sir, this is a cricketing war. This is the Ashes.
Perhaps it is this military inferiority, which makes Australia doubly determined to win at sport. In the last 10 Ashes series, Australia has won 8 and England have not once won once down-under.
Every great military and cricket strategist knows that wars are fought on two fronts, the battlefield and in the minds of the enemy. Great propaganda sews the seeds of doubt in the mind of the enemy, while convincing your own side that it is on the side of good. To do this job, Hitler had Goebbels and Australia had General Glenn McGrath.
McGrath’s, incisive 5-0 predictions along with his ability to declare which batsman would be his biatch for the series crawled inside the English psyche, not unlike like that worm thing from star trek the wrath of Zaheer Khan. Ably assisted by Field Marshall von Warne, who liked to announce a new secret weapon (normally a straight one) before every series, English batsmen usually crumbled against these two masters of the dark arts of spin and fast medium.
Looking at the build up in the media for this Ashes series, it is clear that the Australians have lost their propaganda edge. First we had punter declaring it “absolutely possible” Australia could win 5-0. Compare to McGrath’s decisive “my prediction is it will be 5-0 to Australia”.
This year England just need to sit back and let ex. Australian players to the work. Shane Warne and Ashley Mallet, two of the best they have produced, have already publically said Hauritz is “basically a cat’s shit dressed in whites”. If they can somehow get Mitchell Johnsons mum to sign up to twitter, then two frontline bowlers will be mentally broken before they send a ball down. Despite this obvious propaganda strategy, England’s official media spokesman Kevin Tweetersen has come out with some very clever mind games “Australia in Australia are an incredible cricket team,” reverse psychology, like the reverse sweep very clever.
As a footnote, I have very much enjoyed the advertising campaigns both camps have produced. The Australian effort where the team is made up of Ashes greats like Bradman, Lilly and Benauld and Waugh take the field. Of course the Australian public may be confused when Hauritz, North and Johnson walk out at the Gabba. TheAustralian ad certainly has the wood over England’s gladiator inspired effort, where public schoolboys look like about as fearsome as, well public schoolboys dressed up in toga’s, except ginger, nuggety, gritty, trier Paul Collingwood, who looks like he has just taken their dinner money and forced them to eat insects.
As I write this, news just in that Ricky P has projected his face, which to be frank looks like a ripped dap, onto Big Ben with the message “don’t forget to pack the urn”. Cars were seen driving into the Thames to avoid sight of this 50ft ponting face. A terrifying piece of Ashes propagada. It is likely England will relatiate with a close up of Andrew Strauss’s bald patch projected onto the Sydney Opera House.