From the publishers of THE HINDU

VOL.35 :: NO.05 :: Feb. 02, 2012

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CRICKET / AUSTRALIA DIARY

Haddin, a success story

The diary deeply admires Brad Haddin, as fine a scamster as there ever has been. Haddin has made light of his severe disadvantages to have a reasonably successful cricket career which is something the diary has never managed; unless you count its exploits in 1992, when it hit a four. By S. Ram Mahesh.

The diary is quite the party animal, having sampled Antigua, Sydney, and Cape Town's finest, but it misplaces its invitation to the most subversive of them all, the Perth pitch party. Now apparently that's how they do it in the Wild West, thinking little of regulations and other stuffy matters. So what if there's a Test to be played the next day? We'll have a beer and a yarn strip-side, say the curator, Cameron Sutherland, and his staff. It's tradition, don't you know?

Unfortunately for the roisterers, the revelry is caught on camera. Hodges doesn't see what the fuss is about the next day; the pitch was never in danger. Twitter is where the jokes begin. Has the pitch sobered up? wonders one of the tweeple, Will there be a hangover? Anyway, at Adelaide, the curator, Damian Hough, is asked what he has planned for match eve. “No mate, none of that,” says play-it-straight Damian. “We'll cover it and rope it off.”

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Ed Cowan and the Boomerang Kid. Now why does that sound suspiciously familiar? The battle for Australia's opening spot has come to resemble a fantastic caper; the only thing it's missing is a few skulls and plenty of hamming. Wait a minute, make it just the skulls; there's some hamming. Here's the back-story: Shane Watson injures himself and in comes Ed Cowan. Now that Watson has nearly recovered, whither Cowan? So Gideon Haigh, writer, historian, commenter at large, Australia's disreputable-looking version of the many-splendoured Boria Majumdar, says Watson is a Boomerang Kid, a term used for Australian children who leave home, then return expecting food, lodging, and laundry at their parents'. Cowan, who can't get away with blatant name-calling, resorts to subtlety. “He (Watson) is probably the best player in the country so they certainly do have to fit him in,” says Steady Eddie. “It's no different to any other team, when guys are coming back you've got to hold your place in the team through weight of runs. How I see my job is to make it so difficult for the selectors that Shane Watson has to bat somewhere else in the batting order. That's simply done by me going out and making runs and the rest takes care of itself. If they're having a discussion ‘should Shane Watson be opening the batting', then I'm not doing my job.” Watson, for his part, says he doesn't expect to walk back. It's the sort of headache captains say they love having — a problem of plenty. How they lie.

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The diary deeply admires Brad Haddin, as fine a scamster as there ever has been. If it looked as ugly as this unfortunate character, shot its mouth off as thoughtlessly, and failed as often to back up the talk, it would struggle to get out of bed everyday. It does struggle, but that's for a different reason. Haddin has made light of his severe disadvantages to have a reasonably successful cricket career — minus the drops and the ducks — which is something the diary has never managed; unless you count its exploits in 1992, when it hit a four.

Haddin has earned more money than the diary can hope to make in five lifetimes, except if it sells its soul (but Lord Voldemort has gone out of business and the Devil pays less than the diary's benevolent editors). So basically the diary would dearly love the life of Haddin. But only if it could keep its gorgeous looks.

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Bernard Tomic has caught Australia's imagination, but poor Sam Stosur, the reigning US Open champion, is treated dustily after losing in the first round of the Australian Open. “Home Town Zero,” screams one headline. With the tennis on, the cricketers are no longer the centre of attention. It doesn't help that the series has as much life as the diary has class.



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