It would be nice, particularly after this summer of summers, to think that the Ashes remains the pre-eminent contest in world cricket, and that Anglo-Australian rivalry is still one of the most significant in all sport. But it is not true, and it hasn't been true for some time. The rivalry in international cricket that counts at present is the one between Australia and India. If this were geopolitics, then Australia would be the United States, the one unquestioned superpower for over a decade, used to getting their own way ever since they saw off their rival superpower, the West Indies, in the early 1990s (the West Indian cricket team, like the Russian state, now seems to be in a condition of permanent and rather squalid decline). India, meanwhile, would be China, the superpower of the future, with all the resources needed to beat the Australians at their own game - the manpower, the talent, the raw nationalist passion - so long as a way can be found by their often corrupt and incompetent administrators of harnessing these obvious advantages. And England? England would be the EU: once the centre of the world, but currently engaged in an urgent and not always pretty attempt to modernise in order not to get left behind.
LRB 22 September 2005 | PDF Download