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The Ashes Files Part VI: EXCLUSIVE: Why Swann, KP, Mahi, Sachin and Viv want to play for Australia

This is the sixth release of the applications Cricket Australia received in March and April to join the Australian Ashes squad in England and again in November. 

Cricket Australia invited The Freak, the Prof and I to sift through the mountain of enthusiastic applications they received to select those most able to secure a series victory.  Entertainers, Adventurers, Sportsmen – we have had them all. The Freak was at least mildly encouraged when this pile arrived from CA – some cricketers at last with big big reputations! And form! Not that I’m that confident of keeping some of them out of the squad, or in their Squad, even if they are part of the Commonwealth.

The Freak has been fielding calls throughout September from managers and players to refresh their nominations.  [Ed. Being part of an Australian cricketing revival may be more satisfying than being part of yet another team who can beat Australia?]  I’m sure England can spare Swann and KP, and the Indians can do without Mahi, TLM (The Little Master) and Sir Jadeja for the Ashes summer down under, right? And Viv, he just wants to slam it over cover again!

Graeme Swann
[England spinner]

Great news! Wisden wrote to me guaranteeing a 28% lift in my career MVP rating this year if the operation to double joint my elbow succeeds.  Muruli mentioned I would finally be able to give the new ball more revolutions getting to the batsman than it takes skipping to the boundary. Sri Lankan wit is still as closed to me as an old girls’ book club.

And that is my point. The only thing that divides us is an ocean of blue water, a bunch of unruly convicts, colonial pride, Her Royal Highness and an aging Prince.

I am an Englishman. I love spring summers and winter autumns. I love the dark, the depth of wintry cold, the tree-lined sunken lanes, the pebbly shores, the wash of history, this old island, this England. I am a patriot.

But I live for cricket and for Test match cricket in particular. I love the Ashes – the crowds, our Army, our team, winning in Australia and the sprinkler head. I was the X-factor in Team England’s spin demolition of The Men in Blue in India, a triumph beyond reach for others – winning, again, something that’s worth a quick mention.

I know that for you the dark of night must seem very dark indeed, and long, much like winter on the Russian steppes.  I understand your pain yet I am magnanimous.  I want others to share my success. And so I offer you redemption through high revolution spin.

Swannie

Kevin Pietersen
[England rebel]

I am an entertainer with an MBE. The reverse sweep six is my trademark shot. My Test average is 48.5 in 98 Tests. My home Test average is a little better at 54.5.  No offence.

I don’t think I would play long for Australia but I can give you a few non-controversial tips to help you remain competitive in England or South Africa (where I have a few friends) or the sub-continent (where I carried a team on my shoulders for a test or two)

1. I don’t owe Shane anything
2. If I drop 6 catches give me a beer
3. Tip to all bowlers – learn to bat! Bowling is for mugs
4. My tip to batters – do your homework
5. I love success.  I wake up happy because I am a successful part of a successful team
6. Read Shakespeare
7. Graeme Swann has got high revolution spin nailed

I love this quote. I’ll lend it to you as a stock ball for the press: “We set our target to score about 400 in the first innings. We’re about 240 short after the first day.” It’s nicely open-ended. If you want an optimology [optimistic apology]: “Yesterday was not a silly shot” Just don’t elaborate – it stands by itself.

Best to all

KP (thoroughbred)

Sachin Tendulkar
[We all know who he is]

I will let others speak for me

“Nothing can stop light. Light cannot stop time. Sachin stops everything.”Albert Einstein

“Sachin is to cricket what the Mahatma was to politics.” NKP Salve

“Nothing bad can happen to us if we’re in a plane in India with Sachin Tendulkar on it.” Hashim Amla

“Sachin is a genius. I’m a mere mortal.” Brian Lara

“We did not lose to a team called India…. We lost to a man called Sachin.” Mark Taylor (1997)

“I will see God when I die but until then I will see Sachin.” Anon

“I have seen God, he bats at no.4 for India.” Matthew Hayden

“Commit all your sibs when Sachin is batting….. even God is watching cricket at that time.” Unknown

I want to beat England. Revenge is not in my heart. Justice is. I can give your spinners a batsman’s perspective of their bowling. Six. Six. Four. Four. Six. I rest on the last ball of the over.

I will do this for my Australian and English fans. I do it for cricket. 

TLM

Mahi
[Indian Captain]

I was asked about the culture of winning in the Times of India last year. “Winning” I said “winning is a very technical question. The beauty of it is that we all know the problem and want to find a solution. Everybody is asking the same question.”

I dislike England more than Australia because they hammered us on our own tracks with spin before we hammered you with spin. I am your old enemy’s enemy. So I am your friend. I am in breathtaking form. I’m available if you want me. When you get desperate I will forgive you still.

I’ll need the Presidential suite at the Ritz, and the floor below for my entourage, a professional security detail, a Harrods Gift voucher of £50,000 for every 50 scored (triple for a ton) and tickets to every Chelsea match on Tour.

I only travel Air India God-class. Please arrange a s.457 for me. I’m arriving on May 15 and, if you fail me in the English summer, in early November.  I will be staying at the Ritz-Carlton, Double Bay.

Thanks for the invite mate.

Mahi

Sir Jadeja
[Indian spin sensation]

I have an 11 month export license from the BCCI. I’m the live wire ‘seventh’ choice batsman for the Men in Blue who can spin, and the mythical ‘third’ choice spinner who can bat. I am the only batsman ever to have scored three triple tons in Indian domestic cricket and the only player to have scalped The Pup 5 times in one series in the same 18 months in which he scored four double hundreds.

When I play the world comes to me, his Majesty Sir Ravindra Charles Jadeja. MSD says when I go out to bat the pavilion moves to the wicket. When I square cut the outfield moves anti-clockwise on average 15 degrees. When I loft over cover the screaming stands come to me; when I pull through mid-wicket the boundary rope is at my feet.  Balls I hit stay hit – I’m working to hit more of them.  When I bowl, the ball spins on a pin head like a turbine and twists space time into tiny eddies drawing in the bat like a magnet.  The ball loops and spins away comfortably into the large hands of close in catchers. OUT.

The general theory of relativity helps me play. I am co-authoring an article on the quantum mechanics of spinning objects to be published in Nature next month.  When I’m playing I could be playing for anyone – even the Black Caps – in a universal contest between earthlings and aliens, between good and evil, where I am the last man standing in the open air, an ageless Man in Blue.

Sir Jadeja – I am the real article. Take me.  The BCCI is short of foreign currency and wants to stock up its gold reserves in the next 6 months.

Honestly and respectfully, I thought you might need an all-rounder to ignite the lower order or take a brace under pressure.  I play exciting, and successful, cricket – no offence. No one leaves a ground in tears when I have played – perhaps joyous frustration sometimes, but no tears. 

Sir J

Sir IVA Richards
[West Indies Legend]

People call me Smokin’ Joe or the Master Blaster. No offence to The Little Master in India. We’re both cut from the same batting cloth – the 50+ average club in a million tests.

I faced some pretty quick chain-jangling fast bowlers in the ’70’s and ’80’s when bowlers knew how to bounce and swing the ball. I never wore a helmet because I always wanted to show the bowlers who was in charge. Being in charge meant protecting your wicket and scoring runs so you can win games. Anyone can block up an end or take the shine off a ball. That skill might save a game, or lose one, but it will never win a game.  Even when I scored only a few runs I was still in charge, apart from that time in Brisbane when I was hit in the box when the bowler [Ed. Thommo] was definitely in charge.  They paid for that indiscretion next innings.

Cricket is a mental game. You can lose a series like we did in Australia in 1975, but then you have to come back and win.  CA can select whomever they want, but the team must know how to win. If the team cannot win they won’t win.  I ask you to recruit KP and MSD. They like winning. And give Usman an even break.

Sir Viv

“Will they all play?” I ventured
“Why ever not. It is the Australian cricket team”, the Freak replied full of pride. “The opportunity of becoming Australian cricket citizens with a Sydney harbourside residence [Ed. Where else would you live!] and a boat or three thrown in is very tantalising. And they can pull a crowd!”
“Who would give them their baggy greens?”

That stumped us.

ashes diary cover grass edge2b

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Ashes Diary – Summer of the 17th Man – England 2013

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