But I feel strangely emotionless about them this year, especially compared to my mindless wrath during the summer of 2009.
Of course Graeme Swann proudly bears the kick-me flag, whether it's for his silly strut, or the fact that his whites always look like a strait jacket on him AND NOBODY ELSE REALISES IT. Symptomatically the best jokes in his video diaries are contributed by others; in Pt. 4 the remark that cracked me up came from Jimmy Anderson for instance.
And England also feature Ian Bell (-Smell), the man who, in the parallel dimension in which the true reality takes place, is obviously enjoying a career as a filthy doped racing cyclist; look at his face and you will see it.
And then there is KP, who, whenever I stop caring about him, does or says something that makes me run up the palm tree again like bitten by a tarantula; he's always eager to remind me of why I disliked him in the first place; as if he was the head of England's anti-fraternisation unit.
Matching the occasion Kevin Pietersen made it into the German sports news... not the actual news -no cricket happening there-, but he earned an honourable mention in Der Spiegel's latest silly sports photos gallery*, the caption reads:
"Last weekend's most relaxed sportsman: Kevin Pietersen. The English [sic] cricketer rests on the turf at the Waca Ground in Perth during the Test match against Australia. Obviously he rested for too long, Australia won by 267 runs".
Gnarrrr! Germs blissfully gloating at Poms! They couldn't miss out on this opportunity could they! ^^
But my Straussrage has significantly worn off in the last 12 months, perhaps it's because at some point you learn to live with a habitual offender, or because he never really jumps out of his skin and loses his dignity. What might also play a role is that I keep discovering more and more similarities between him and the Biffcow, mind you, without him matching the old Boofhead in any aspect.
Collingwood is generally tolerated, Prior... who gives a fork, and Trott, who I still a few months ago would not have been able to stand from a distance of 300 km, now seems like some crazy odd animal to me (I am sure the female Trott lays eggs); in fact I find his bizarre OCD rather curious and amusing.
Cookie simply doesn't reach me at all. When he is sitting in the press conference with his huge empty eyes like ponds and basically says nothing, he creates a void in your head, a big emptiness that spreads rapidly and will put you into a coma if you don't react quickly enough and switch him off. He's a little bit like Hypno-Toad, just heaps more boring.
Barbie is a strange phenomenon. Even after he sort of won the Ashes last year I could hardly get myself to hate him. He looked too much like one of these little angel figures you put on the Christmas tree, with golden hair, a tiny white shirt, no pants on, and a harp or trumpet in hand. For that reason his evolution into the Attila of English fast bowling is a real shocker. However, he's out of the series and getting pwnd by Geoffrey Boycott; hating him would be a plain waste of energy right now.
Stinky-Barbie got replaced by the nicest care bear England could ever come up with. It is absolutely and entirely impossible to hate Chris Tremlett. A couple of English journalists are wetting themselves over Trem's vastly improved death stare... so am I. His "evil face" evokes cheers of delight at my end of things. Go Chris, we all know your big teddy heart. Once a Hamps, always a Hamps. I would blindly entrust him a basket of little pups and kittens.
Jimmy "rubber hip" Anderson is a bit like Cook to me: not causing an emotional reaction of any sort. Mild annoyance when he's bowling well, but that's about it. He still looks a bit like a little monkey with his unkempt face, but that doesn't irk me a lot... you always have to keep in mind it could be Sidebottom!!!
Leaves Finny. Ah man. Whyyyyyyyy? His sensational beatlesesque British Upper Class boarding school hairdo was what got me interested in Middlesex, and he feeds it to a hungry rat family!?! Oh Steven Finn you silly little bugger! Yeah I guess that is the way you talk about someone you like. Go the Middle!
And then there are T Murtagh, JHK Adams, Linley, Schofield, Briggs, Yardy, W Beer, C Wood, Ravenscroft, Roland-Jones, Riazuddin, and minor Poms like Kies, Berg, Morgan, Dexter, Rayner and a million others... or maybe the Christmas spirit makes me all mushy in the head... But for now I have to proclaim: no major Pom rage till Boxing Day!
But what if England win the Ashes?
Easy: The Australian side will finally get completely overhauled and in 2.5 years play five blinders in a row with the following, then already legendary line-up:
Watson, Cooper, Marsh, Khawaja, White (c), Paine, Smith/O'Keefe, Hauritz/George, Johnson, Butterworth, Hilfenhaus.
Remember where you read it first.
Cheers and Happy Holidays everyone,
*Dale Steyn can be admired on page 5 of the gallery. A sudden cricket rage must have broken out in the halls of Der Spiegel.