Monday, August 15, 2005

Defend Or Attack?

Australian captain Ricky Ponting mounted a defensive rear-guard worthy of General Moore's retreat in front of Napoleon's troops (1808) in the Peninsular War to secure a draw at Old Trafford today, denying England victory in the third Ashes test.

It could be said that a draw was a fair result, acknowledging how finely-balanced the two teams are in this series (one win apiece, and this draw, with two matches to come) - neither side quite good enough to beat, and yet too good to be beaten by, the other on this occasion. It could also be said that had they not lost almost a whole day to rain, the match would not have ended in a draw; but then, rain disruption is all part of the game. Whatever - and disappointed though I am that England didn't take one more wicket to win the match and go 2:1 up - it was just about as exciting a test match as one could wish for.

And yet, I never like to see a side play a defensive game, in an attempt to reach a draw instead of chase a victory. At one point, when Ponting and Clarke were at the crease, Australia did have a go at chasing the winning target; but once Clarke's wicket fell, and left with the tail-end, Ponting fell back on a defensive game. At one point he even had words with Shane Warne, who - true to himself - was attacking the ball, ordering him to defend his wicket instead. And here is a difference in approach: for Warne it is not enough to not lose to England; he hates to not win against them. Whatever he may say on the record, I reckon he would have rather attacked the target and failed, confident that his side could come back from 1:2 down to win the series 3:2, than accept the draw. My Australian friends may disagree with this opinion (and I may even be wrong), but it is, after all, the way he bowls - not minding how many runs he gives away in taking wickets, because he knows that he has taken more wickets than any other cricketer in the world...

Are you a Ponting, or a Warne? On one occasion I came in to bat with my team needing 8 runs to win, and the other team needing one more wicket. I was told to play defensively, see out the over, and allow the other batsman to score the remaining runs. But it is not in my nature to play defensively. The first ball I faced, I knocked for 6. The second removed my bails. We lost, by 2 runs. And had I played defensively, yes, we might have won. But I'd rather give it a go and fail than play it safe and possibly survive. Every time.


  1. Rain's not a problem Andrew. Imagine how quickly these match's would be over if both teams held their catches!

  2. Hi Bruce!
    Dropped catches add to the drama for the spectators. Rain on grass does not make for a good spectator sport...

  3. always give it a shake!

    i'm a warney

  4. Really, Hamo? You do surprise me!

  5. jo saxton3:33 pm

    wise words mr dowsett,wise words....

  6. I don't want to sound like a total pessimist, but surely we need to judge when it's right to be a Ponting, and when it's right to be a Warne.

    There are times when we should go all out for it, and there are times when we must sit back and accept that we can't do everything.

    If we are always going all out for it, do we risk burning out?

    Maybe I've got the wrong end of the stick here. Maybe I like sitting on the fence. But for me, I think it is important to pick my battles carefully.

    I don't want to overstretch your analogy, so i apologise if I do. But surely there are times when we must listen to our captain, and if they ask us to play defensively, we must follow their instructions. Surely we have to be accountable to the other members of our team???

    Just some thoughts. Do with them what you will.

  7. Jo Saxton - hello! How is motherhood treating you? Congratulations to you and Chris!

  8. Hi Phil! How was Taize? Shocking news since you got back...
    Maybe you are right about picking our battles carefully, but in a sporting context (especially the Ashes) the battle has already been picked. And in a kingdom context, the battles have already been picked, too. As the New Testament says, the reason Jesus came was to destroy the works of the devil; moreover, he commissioned his followers to exercise his power and authority to do the same. I'm not saying there is no place for strategy; nor that we shouldn't be accountable to each other: but I do think there is far too much pessimism within the church...

  9. Andrew you're right, there is a lot of pessimism in the church, too much pessimism.

    Sometimes it can be hard making decisions when you're trying to be inclusive and don't want to offend others.

    Sometimes we (I) can be very wary of people's motives for suggesting certain things.

    Churches are places where people want to be involved, they want to have a certain say in how things happen.

    For me these things highlight the importance of good, honest relationships within churches, the need to be flexible, the need to be willing to learn from everyone's mistakes - including our own.

  10. My week at Taize was wonderful, challenging and inspiring in many ways. I've blogged about some stuff, more will come out once its been chewed over a little more.

    It was terrible to hear the news about Brother Roger. He was a gentle, peacful man of God. He will be sadly missed, but sixty-odd years ago he started something which lives on today, impacting tens, maybe hundreds of thousands of people every year.

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  12. jo saxton2:56 am

    Motherhood is fab thanks - and Tia is absolutely wonderful, even with all the nappy changing!

    God Bless you on your next adventure - Perth sounds very exciting. I shall drop you all an email sometime soon!

  13. ...there's only one way to beat them, get round the back
    Catch me if you can
    Cos’ I’m the england man
    And what you’re looking at
    Is the master plan
    We ain’t no hooligans
    This ain’t a football song
    Three lions on my chest
    I know we can’t go wrong

    We’re playing for england {in-ger-land}
    We’re playing the song
    We’re singing for england {in-ger-land}
    Arrivederci it’s one one one

  14. bet you can guess what kinda guy I am :)

    Actually I am so competitive that I would even back off if I thought it would win us the game, but, I could never play for the draw, even if Punter said to.

    Would rather lose knowing I left it all on the pitch than win having not let my heart free.

    the rev