Schadenfreude is generally for losers in modern sport, with most athletes able to keep their expressions of delight a pure and generous thing, always remembering to praise their opponents and recognise the part luck has played in their triumph, but there is a small corner of the cricketing world still more used to revelling in the dismay of one’s opponents. In times gone by you’d find the likes of Glenn McGrath or one of the older legends would regularly predict a whitewash in the Ashes, almost as though to taunt the opposition, and now the tables have turned it seems like former wide-bowler and occasional world-beater Steve Harmison wants to fulfil the role for England.
However, that is not really going to have the same effect on a game of cricket that things like selection and star players do, and of all the stars the Aussies have lost in recent years none has been so missed as the sometimes ridiculous but always entertaining Shane Warne, who can still be seen turning his arm over for a tonne of money in the T20’s, if you’re lucky. Since arguably the greatest twirler ever to twist retired, Australia have fielded eleven different spinners in an effort to find an adequate replacement, and two of those only managed one test before being thrown back on the pile.
Now it has come to the point where 31 year-old Fawad Ahmed, seeking political asylum from persecution in Pakistan, is being rushed through the citizenship process in time for the summer Ashes tests. It has amused a lot of other fans to mock the English for their use of South African-born players in recent times, but that particular sledge will no longer carry a lot of weight if one of the Australian bowlers is a brand-new citizen in his first or second test match. Schadenfreude in sport is rare, as I said, but if you still relish the art of rubbing the noses of an enemy in their own dirt, the Ashes may be a happy hunting ground this summer.
Image credit: rodc