Arthur Salisbury defends an under-fire Ben Stokes
Footage has emerged of a man absolutely giving it to two other men outside a nightclub in Bristol at half two on Monday morning. The green-shirted man in the video appears to be threatened with a bottle, but rather than backing down he squares up to his opponents, one against two, and has them. The first goes down like BHS and the second is the victim of a vicious swinging delivery. Ben Stokes was arrested in connection with this video, and I for one hope he did it.
If we’re going to beat the Aussies in their own backyard we need fighters. Not just backs-to-the-wall fifth-day rearguard fighting but actual literal fighters. People who use their fists and their feet because this is Australia baby and it’s a language they understand.
On the first morning of the first test in the 2002-03 Ashes series, the great Simon Jones suffered a severe anterior cruciate ligament injury while on the field. As he lay on a stretcher at the side of the Gabba, an Australian came over and told him to ‘Get up you weak Pommie bastard’.
Of course, he got sweet revenge two-and-a-half years later when his mastery of reverse swing would win England the Ashes after an 18-year drought. But wouldn’t it have been even better if he’d also glassed Matthew Hayden?
Cricket is warfare by other means, but do they have to be so other? The threat to your personal safety is integral to the game. Marshall, Garner, Holding, Croft – they would not be so effective were the ball made from sponge.
All cricket supporters are hypocrites and weasels. What if the man in the green shirt was Grievous Bodily Harmison, and the man with the bottle was Ricky Ponting? And what if instead of thumping him, greenshirt had instead hurled a hard object towards his face at 90mph, drawing blood? Far from being called into a disciplinary meeting, he’d be treated as a hero and quite right too.
We travel to Australia this winter with some unresolved issues. Most obviously, regarding the top order. Mark Stoneman has played three test matches with a high score of 52 and averages 30.00 yet is considered a certainty. Toby Roland-Jones is out of the pace attack and the Kookaburra ball loses its swing early, a problem for both Broad and Anderson. Moeen Ali too will have a hard time, facing the twin pressures of being an off-spinner and a Muslim in a country that favours pace bowling and white immigration.
So let’s not turn on our own eh, lads? On top of the unproven allegations of actual bodily harm, Ben Stokes has mysteriously suffered a fracture to his right hand. If for any reason he misses the first test we’ll lose all five, mark my words.