“England bombed Australia!” by Colin Croft

10th August 2015

Patrolling the Boundary  – a view from the outfield

The first time that I heard “He is throwing bombs”, in sports, was from that indomitable boxing commentator; best ever; Al Bernstein, at the start of his broadcasting career for ESPN in early 1980’s, while describing such boxing luminaries as “Sugar” Ray Leonard, Roberto “Hands of Stone” Duran, “Marvelous” Marvin Haggler and “Iron” Mike Tyson.

If, like me, you are also a music fan of the most productive period in popular music history; 1970 – 2000; you would know that “Gap Band” tune, circa 1982, called “You dropped a bomb on me!”

Last week at Trent Bridge, Nottingham, England certainly dropped bombs on Australia!

England, reminiscent of the country’s remarkable recovery after the great bombing blitz by Germany’s V-1 and V-2 rocket-bombs during World War II, attacked Australia violently, relentlessly, vehemently in Test No. 4, easily the battle for, and of, Britain, and ‘The Ashes’ too!

What epic pitched combat we have witnessed this series, from Cardiff, Wales, to London, Birmingham and Nottingham. England has thrown such serious incendiaries at the Aussies that the Antipodeans must be wondering what sort of missiles actually hit them. They certainly have been on the receiving end of a tremendous English bowling blitz, taking a terrible battering!

Stuart Broad’s 8-15 in Australia’s first innings, at his home ground, to disembowel the visitors for a paltry 60 was something to behold. His father, Chris, worthy past England opener and feisty opponent too before becoming an ICC Match Referee, must be so proud. Stuart seemed to be throwing Molotov Cocktails at the frightened, shell-shocked Aussies.

The purgatory of Australia’s cricketers reminded of their much braver countrymen at Gallipoli, Turkey, in World War I, which eventually brought about “Anzac Day”, highly celebrated in Australia and New Zealand on April 25 annually, to commemorate that distasteful waste of lives.

At least those real Anzac warriors fighting Mustapha Kemal Ataturk and his followers had very good reasons to be scared in 1915. What exactly is the reason, or excuse, for Australia’s cricketers looking so ill-prepared, embarrassingly bedraggled, at Trent Bridge?

English and Australian press, in correct collaboration for once, deemed Australia’s dismal performance “Pomicide,” England being known, colloquially as “Poms”. Papa!

So, you may be wondering about this seeming emphasis on war; violence and death that it brings; but this last week marked the 70th anniversary of one of the most significant life-time events ever, one of extreme importance to our world, as its scourge still, and will, always exist into eternity.

Seventy years ago; 06 August, 1945; United States of America dropped the first atomic bomb used in combat – “Little Boy” – a Uranium-235-based device which exploded 2000 feet above Hiroshima, Japan. 70,000 died instantly and 100,000 died afterwards from fallout and effluent.

When “Little Boy”, a misnomer if ever there was one, since the bomb weighed 9,700 pounds and was ten feet long, left the bomb-bay of that Boeing B-29 Super-Fortress four-engine aircraft “Enola Gay”, no-one, certainly not pilot Colonel Paul Tibbets, could imagine its result and future.

Not satisfied with that mushroomed event, though, and on suppositions that Japan did not surrender as expected after “Little Boy”, but probably pay-back for Japan’s surprise attack on Pearl Harbor, 07 December 1941, USA exploded yet another atomic bomb, “Fat Man” over Japan.

“Fat Man”, at 10,300 pounds, was bigger than “Little Boy.” It was dropped from another B-29, “Bockscar”, exploding 1500 feet above Nagasaki, Japan on 09 August 1945, killing as many as 150,000 people overall.

So, just imagine for a moment that those two bombs, only, killed more than one-third – 33% – of Guyana’s present population. What a thing! Yet we still play with these damned things!

That is history and reality, so let us return to more mundane scenes of destructive and excellent fast bowling since perhaps WI’s Malcom Marshall, Mike Holding, Andy Roberts, Joel Garner, Colin Croft, Curtly Ambrose, Ian Bishop and Courtney Walsh; cricket, lovely cricket.

I have never been to ‘real’ war, even though playing for WI in 1970’s and 1980’s was, to me at least, if nobody else in our team, war, since I was representing seven million against the world!

But I have never shot at anyone, even though, while in university in mid-late 1980’s, working at convenience stores to augment incomes, I was shot at in robberies. Also, I was married twice; dangerous stuff that; so I am a veteran of sorts of several different kinds of war. I lived!

Yet, I have never seen any cricket team, even against WI teams with that vaunted past fire power, duck, bob and weave, and look so out of place as Australia appeared in Test No. 4 v England.

Steve Waugh, former Australian captain, once suggested while Australia was winning ICC Cricket World Cup 1999, that then Australia played the way it did because his players had to answer to 20 million people. One must wonder as to what Michael Clarke would tell his populace now!

England has retained the Ashes for the next few years, but it was quite embarrassing to observe Australia’s reaction to that shellacking meted out by England. Enjoy!

C.E.H. Croft

Colin Everton Hunte Croft was one of the fast-bowling giants of West Indies’ glorious period of world dominance. In his international career between 1977-82 he was part of a devastating 4-man pace attack alongside fellow greats Andy Roberts, Michael Holding and Joel Garner (with a young Malcolm Marshall as first reserve). In 27 Tests he took 125 wickets at 23.30 with a best of 8-29 v Pakistan in only his 2nd Test Match. He was a member of West Indies’ World Cup winning XI of 1979, and took the match-clinching wicket, spreading the stumps of England’s Mike Hendrick, to finish with figures of 3-42. In his post playing days ‘Crofty’ has been a teacher, commercial pilot, coach and a shrewd and honest cricket analyst, writer, broadcaster, commentator and summariser – gaining respect internationally for his insightful and forthright opinions and, not least, his splendid wit. Roland Butcher’s Hook is delighted to have Colin as a contributor.


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