I moved into an apartment in Warsaw overlooking a splendid park, think Prince of Wales Drive meets north side of Hyde Park. Once a salesman, always a salesman. I listen to a lot of classical music. I watch the sunset from the balcony, I cook asparagus. I read Zadie Smith and Chimamanda Ngozi Adiche. I promenade along the river, and I don’t have a Telly. But, thanks to a computer, an internet connection and a password, I have managed to watch an hour a night of ‘The Test’ over the past week.
After Staff Friday Football, which I have surprised myself in enjoying way more than I thought I ever could, we were having the customary Zywiec and talking about good Sports Films. I was put on to ‘The Test’. I’ve watched a couple of great Cricket Productions over the past few years, which I have ashamedly and blatantly failed to blog about. ‘The Edge’ and ‘Packer Series’ were both engrossing but produced no copy from Nowak.
JL – not to be confused with J Lo gives a candid account of his position and that of the Aussie team after Sandpapergate. Sandpapergate was really not that long ago, but the world moves quickly and there is a lot of water under the bridge as they say. I remember an Aussie colleague (remarkably I seemed to work in China with the only 2 Australian men who didn’t seem to follow Cricket) telling tale of a Vietnamese based British Headmaster ex colleague of his who put little pieces of sandpaper in the pigeon holes of all the Australian staff. As JL says himself, “There’s Banter, and there’s abuse”. Pigeon hole prank is undoubtedly the former.
I enjoyed the series a lot. Dressing Room access to players is a tough one. Where do you draw the line? For example, not a shot of the recent Oscar winning Hopkins film ‘The Two Popes’ included the Vatican. Not permitted, niet, outruled. Absolutemente non. But despite some Rugby playing and supporting Kiwis thinking it, sport is not a Religion, and these fly-on-the-wall docs are two-a-penny now. Yet, ‘The Test’ will appeal to Cricket Lovers. What do you do when two key men are suspended from playing?
From the heat of UAE, and the decision to let the Press know that ‘Aussies love Heat’, to the difficulty in losing on home turf to Captain Kohli and his team, this series shows us just how important it is to gel as a team. It is great to see Tugger, Haydos and Hick in the background (if that is not a name for a World Renowned Cricket Academy I don’t know what is), and despite the conference rooms and PowerPoints being about as boutique as a Political Party Conference, one gets the sense that some deep analysis and data is being mined. You know what they say, ‘Fail to Prepare and you…’. C’est vrai Monsieur.
It all obviously culminates with 2019, the World Cup and The Ashes. Bombastic, it was not. These matches really meant something to a lot of people. All the main interviewees, from Langer to Payne to Finch to Lyon to Starke, Cummins and Warner and Smith themselves open up. Langer says he’d have taken a Semi Final World Cup position and retaining the Urn on the plane over to England, but forgivably it is only human nature to want more. Watch it.