| by Victor Cherubim

( December 2, 2013, London, Sri Lanka Guardian) The so called “east-enders” of London use the cockney expressions “utter, nutter and butter” as their daily usage, to express not only their disgust, but often to refer to persons as “crazy.” Well, “utter nutter” can also mean as endearment, depending on the occasion and the time of day or night it is used, especially after six pints of ale. Many refer to the so called rivalry in cricket in the current Ashes Test series in Australia, as between “sportsmen and utter nutters.”

Cockney is a language, it is rhyming slang. Examples of same which easily come to mind are: “apples and pears,” “trouble and strife,” “dog and bone,” or “Adam and the Ants,” without going into more slang, for “pants.”

The Ashes First Test at The Gabba or short for “Woolloongabba”, Brisbane Cricket Ground, recently, has come in for lot of slang, both in England as well as “Down Under”. Every Aussie knows of the “whingeing Poms,” an acronym/abbreviation of “Prisoners of Her Majesty,” pronounced invariably as “pommygranate” in near rhyme to an “immigrant.” while the British sometimes refer to the Aussies as, “a load of old ponies,” yet outwardly they shake hands, giggle and move on.

Shane Warne claimed that James Anderson provoked Clarke, (the Aussie Captain and a mate of his) by calling George Bailey that “he wanted to punch him in the face” whilst in Australia,
some commentators suggested, what Clarke said was really: “a broken helmet” rather than a hand."

We all know that it is Australia’s win in 10 Tests against England. We also know that Mitchell Johnson has put England for once under pressure. Australia has always had a friendly rivalry with England over every sport. Whether it is Rugby, Tennis, Cycling, or Yachting and of course Cricket. To play the game and to win both England and Australia “will do almost anything.”

“Brutality is an inevitability in Rugby, marked by what is one of the world’s oldest and most culturally nuanced sporting rivalries” between England and Australia.

In cricket we have heard of the Bodyline Ashes Test series of 1932/33 with England’s Harold Larwood’s attack on Aussie batsman including Don Bradman, with short hostile leg bowling –a sporting war with England winning the series. Later it was Australia’s turn with Ray Lindwall and Geoff Miller, much later it was Dennis Lillee and Jeff Thomson, Australia’s fast bowlers, grievously battering and bruising England’s batsmen. Perhaps, it is Mitchell Johnson’s turn to drive fear into English cricket.

Recently at the Olympics 2012 we saw the rivalry between the British Cycling Champion Victoria Pendleton and Australia’s Anna Mears. It was a balance of power and might.

So too in Tennis at Wimbledon, or even Yachting in Sydney, sporting rivalry ranks supreme between England and Australia. So Michael Clarke is not alone in stating: “We have some aggressive players who are at their best on the front foot. I said at the start of the series that if Mitchell Johnson performs the way he can, he’ll be the man of the series.”

Could it also be political rivalry?

There is nothing wrong in sporting rivalry, but we are reliably informed 2014 could see some political rivalry too in the making. Small wonder why the Aussies want to be good friends with Sri Lanka. There is nothing wrong with that too. Tony Abbott, British born Australia’s Prime Minister has a plan for real action to deliver a strong prosperous economy and a safe secure Australia. Abbott’s team also includes Julie Bishop, Minister for Foreign Affairs, Deputy Leader of the Liberal Party and Member for Curtin, who is according to political commentators a “die-hard Republican.” Could we perhaps see Australia becoming a Republic sooner than later?

We talk about the desire in Australia not only to take on England in Sport, but somehow when these two nations take the field, it somehow colloquially is “giving the needle.” It is a desire not just to win, but perhaps also “to exact revenge, to assert some form of wider cultural superiority.” Some say there is a streak:”to win in a way that might feel like an upset, or the end of something.”

The English and the Australians

We in Sri Lanka very often mistake the English and the Australians as one people. During my visit to Australia during the Rugby World Cup in 2003, I saw the real Australia. They were very friendly to me; they treated me so well that I wrote my “praises of backpacking Australia” in my article: “Australia on a shoestring.” They in fact told me that colour on a Sri Lankan is different to colour elsewhere. There is a great affinity for Sri Lanka. I think it is high time we too have an equally great affinity to those “Down Under.”


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