Wednesday, 14 December 2016

Is James Andersen an Alan Sked of English cricket?

Girish Menon

Image result for james anderson vs virat kohli

You might wonder what is the relationship between James Andersen the cricketer and Dr. Alan Sked the original founder of the UK Independence Party (UKIP)?  Prima facie, not a lot; one is a cricketer with not much connection with academia and the other is a tenured historian at the London School of Economics. But look closer and you can find both of them living in the past.

I attended Dr. Sked’s history lectures many moons ago. He was a fine orator and I fondly remember him after so many years, His pet theme was the greatness of the British Empire and the downward spiral of the UK since World War II especially with the increasing integration of erstwhile enemies into the European Union. At one of our social do’s we had the following conversation:

‘Alan, the UK needs a clock that rotates backwards’
‘Why?’ he asked
‘Because you seem to be forever living in the past’
‘Girish, do you know who you are talking to? I will be marking your papers in the summer’
‘Alan I am not from colonial India, I am from a more confident India’….

I had been out of touch with Dr. Sked until his proposal to start a UKIP of the left – however this proposal did not see the light of day at least not in the form Dr. Sked envisaged. Today's early morning reverie however linked Dr. Sked with James Andersen a great English bowler. Andersen, whose career appears fast fading, criticised the Indian captain Virat Kohli on the day he scored 235 runs. Kohli’s over 600 runs in four test matches has Andersen unimpressed. He suggested that Kohli is not so much an improved batsman, as a batsman playing in conditions that do not exploit his "technical deficiencies".

"I'm not sure he's changed," Anderson said. "I just think any technical deficiencies he's got aren't in play out here. The wickets just take that out of the equation.
"We had success against him in England, but the pace of the pitches over here just take any flaws he has out of the equation. There's not that pace in the wicket to get the nicks, like we did against him in England with a bit more movement. Pitches like this suit him down to the ground.”
"When that's not there, he's very much suited to playing in these conditions. He's a very good player of spin and if you're not bang on the money and don't take your chances, he'll punish you. We tried to stay patient against him, but he just waits and waits and waits. He just played really well."

Andersen, like Dr. Sked, loves to invoke the past when he does not wish to deal with the current reality. Virat Kohli may indeed fail on his next trip to England in 2018 on England’s doctored pitches. But Andersen could be a little less churlish, live in the present and share some of the Yuletide spirit.

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