Why always Tim?

Steve Smith’s choice not to enforce the follow-on in the 2nd Test has “divided the cricket world”, but it’s obvious who is really to blame

AdelaideHave you ever heard of Svlad Cjelli? You may know him better as Dirk Gently, a two-book creation of Douglas Adams. The only downside to The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy is that a character as interesting as Mr Gently does not get his full 15 minutes.

If you haven’t heard of him, please allow me to explain. Dirk Gently is, in his own words, an ‘holistic detective’ who preaches the “fundamental interconnectedness of all things”. It is this credos that enables him to make a vital trip to the Bahamas for three weeks while looking into the disappearance of an old lady’s cat. All at the expense of his client, naturally.

By the same token, we should look to lay blame for taking the now-fashionable option of declining to ask the opposition to bat again at a door other than Steve Smith’s. It all seemed very un-Australian, turning down the opportunity to crush a touring team under his spiked cricket boots while it was at his mercy, hence the confusion. Only at the end of the 5th day will we find out whether his decision is vindicated or not. But if it turns out to be a more catastrophic decision than Joe Root’s decision to bowl first, it is on someone else entirely. Who?


Which Tim?

All of them.


Tim is a terrible name. I should know. It oozes ineptitude, deference and defeat. No baddie in a film would ever be called Tim. Apart from the wizard in …Holy Grail, but that was the whole point.

Nor would a hero be called Tim; we do not display the heroic traits of Homer’s Odysseus, nor even Bonnie Tyler’s desired piece of man flesh. In general, Tims don’t tend to be strong, fast or fresh from the fight, let alone riding on a fiery steed, racing on the thunder or rising with the heat.

Back to The Hitchhiker’s… where we find the character Timothy James Woodhead, whose contribution to the plot was betraying Arthur dent in return for a meal deal. Classic Tim.

Rather, it is the fate of Tims to be impaired in some way: Tim Nice but Dim, Timahhhhh from South Park, Timothy Lumsden from Sorry!. At best, a Tim will be the boring-but-dependable new partner of the fun-but-flawed hero’s ex-spouse in romcoms.

It is a blighted name.

And sure enough, if you look carefully, you’ll find a long lineage of Tims that caused Steve Smith to choose to bat again. It was inevitable.


Caught at the scene of the crime is surprise keeping selection Tim Paine. In fairness, it’s not really his fault, he’s merely the embodiment of one of the key factors that influenced Smith’s call. Not guilty but fitted up anyway? Exactly the kind of thing that would happen to a Tim.

Paine symbolises muddled selectorial thinking. Fielding a three seam, one spin attack for at the start of a series packing five Tests into seven weeks, means that the captain has a lot of workload management to do. How would he feel if, even at 2-0 up, he’d wrecked Pat Cummins’ glass back again?

Smith also knows that, for all of  the frailty of the batting unit as a whole, England’s tail is not all that bad. Craig Overton top-scored in the first innings and chipped in with wickets too. Who does that remind us of?

Yes: Tim Bresnan. Being wary of stocky English almost-all-rounders comes from the solid performances Brezy Lad put in over the course of two tours down under. He was on the winning side in each of the first 13 Tests he played, remember. Do Australia really want to create another victorious beast like that?

Despite his promising start to Test cricket, injuries eventually caught up with him and he played his last Test in 2013 at the age of 28. Peak Tim.

Of course we shouldn’t forget the role that T20 played in making Bresnan a more adventurous batsman and a more economical bowler. And why do we have T20? Tim Cook.

Cricket, especially T20, isn’t really sport anymore; it’s entertainment. In the modern media age, cricket is not just jostling with rugby for second position behind football, it is pitting itself against the likes of Netflix, Amazon, and Apple. Asked recently to identify his company’s main competitor, Netflix CEO Reed Hastings said “we are really competing with sleep on the margin”.

The first generation iPod came out in 2001, and fully entered mainstream conscience roughly around the same time as T20 cricket launched. Tim Cook was Senior Vice President for Worldwide Operations from 1998; it was on his watch that the world at large started to consume content in a different way, contracting attention spans and seeking instant highs.

Apple would be nowhere without a way of accessing content quickly. Step forward Tim Berners-Lee, architect of the world-wide web. Little did he know when working at CERN that he would be ultimately responsible for the potentially-pivotal moment of The Ashes 2017/18. How does he live with himself?

I can only assume that his parents, having raised their child as an Anglican, took inspiration from traditional biblical monikers. So really it all comes back to Saint Timothy, 1st Bishop of Ephesus, the earliest historical Tim I can find.

So when England romp home to victory tomorrow, Steve Smith, reflecting on his mid-match decision and feeling slightly queasy, may actually want to Pray to Saint Timothy?

Why? St. Tim is the patron invoked against stomach and intestinal disorders.

How’s that for holistic?


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