International Cricket

As world No 1, teams are going to want to beat you: England’s Bairstow on Scotland defeat

Sunday’s stunning reverse in Edinburgh was England’s first match since rising to the top of the global ODI rankings.

Jonny Bairstow has insisted England can cope with the pressure of being the world’s top-ranked one-day international side as they head into a five-match series against Australia on the back of a shock six-run defeat by Scotland.

Sunday’s stunning reverse in Edinburgh was England’s first match since rising to the top of the global ODI rankings.

But despite Bairstow becoming the first England batsman to score ODI hundreds in three successive innings, England failed to chase down a target of 372 after a superb 140 not out by Calum MacLeod laid the platform for Scotland’s stunning win.

Defeat raised questions about the ability of England, who have never lifted the World Cup, to win one-off clashes but Bairstow said Eoin Morgan’s men could handle everything that came with being top of the rankings .

“It’s part and parcel of the game,” he explained. “You get to number one and people are going to want to beat you, but you want to be number one in the world.

“We set our stall out to be number one in the world and that’s where we are, whether we were number one in this game or not, Scotland would still be delighted to win, it’s not just because we are number one,” the Yorkshireman added.

England though will not have long to absorb the lessons of that loss, with the first ODI against Australia at The Oval on Wednesday.

It is a match that pits 2019 World Cup hosts England against title-holders Australia.

England enjoyed a 4-1 series win over Australia Down Under earlier this year but will be confronted by a new-look side in London.

‘Different challenge’

Not only have former Australia captain Steve Smith and his deputy David Warner – two of the world’s best one-day batsmen – been given year-long bans for their role in the ball-tampering scandal in Cape Town in March, but Australia are also without their injured Ashes-winning fast-bowling trio of Mitchell Starc, Pat Cummins and Josh Hazlewood.

“It’s a completely different challenge and a completely different team that we will be playing,” said Bairstow.

“It’s a team that has a lot of new guys in, without Starc, Hazlewood, Cummins, Warner, Smith, so there are guys wanting to compete for places and we know just how dangerous that can be when people are pushing for a permanent place.”

Warner role

Australia will hope Marcus Stoinis and Travis Head, both of whom made hundreds in warm-up games, can continue their good form, with pacemen Kane Richardson, Jhye Richardson, Billy Stanlake and Michael Neser all looking to feature in a side captained by wicketkeeper Tim Paine.

Australia will hope Ashton Agar to provide a degree of control in the field following three straight ODI series losses and the spinner was keen they take advantage of any uncertainty among the England side following their defeat by a Scotland side who are 13th in the ODI rankings.

“It’s great England didn’t win [on Sunday] because you always like to start with a win,” Agar said.

“At the end, England didn’t really finish the job,” he added.

“They’re a really dangerous side, though, and you can’t ever take a side like that lightly. We need to bring our A-game and be ready to go.”

Warner may not be playing but the banned batsman will join Australian broadcaster Channel Nine’s commentary team from the second ODI in Cardiff on Saturday onwards.

“Personally I think it’s a great thing for him to be back around cricket,” said Agar of Warner’s new role.

“He would have been hurt, and his family too. So for him to be back around the game he loves will be important.”

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Swara Bhasker: Sharp objects has to be on the radar of every woman who is tired of being “nice”

The actress weighs in on what she loves about the show.

This article has been written by award-winning actor Swara Bhasker.

All women growing up in India, South Asia, or anywhere in the world frankly; will remember in some form or the other that gentle girlhood admonishing, “Nice girls don’t do that.” I kept recalling that gently reasoned reproach as I watched Sharp Objects (you can catch it on Hotstar Premium). Adapted from the author of Gone Girl, Gillian Flynn’s debut novel Sharp Objects has been directed by Jean-Marc Vallée, who has my heart since he gave us Big Little Lies. It stars the multiple-Oscar nominee Amy Adams, who delivers a searing performance as Camille Preaker; and Patricia Clarkson, who is magnetic as the dominating and dark Adora Crellin. As an actress myself, it felt great to watch a show driven by its female performers.

The series is woven around a troubled, alcohol-dependent, self-harming, female journalist Camille (single and in her thirties incidentally) who returns to the small town of her birth and childhood, Wind Gap, Missouri, to report on two similarly gruesome murders of teenage girls. While the series is a murder mystery, it equally delves into the psychology, not just of the principal characters, but also of the town, and thus a culture as a whole.

There is a lot that impresses in Sharp Objects — the manner in which the storytelling gently unwraps a plot that is dark, disturbing and shocking, the stellar and crafty control that Jean-Marc Vallée exercises on his narrative, the cinematography that is fluid and still manages to suggest that something sinister lurks within Wind Gap, the editing which keeps this narrative languid yet sharp and consistently evokes a haunting sensation.

Sharp Objects is also liberating (apart from its positive performance on Bechdel parameters) as content — for female actors and for audiences in giving us female centric and female driven shows that do not bear the burden of providing either role-models or even uplifting messages. 

Instead, it presents a world where women are dangerous and dysfunctional but very real — a world where women are neither pure victims, nor pure aggressors. A world where they occupy the grey areas, complex and contradictory as agents in a power play, in which they control some reigns too.

But to me personally, and perhaps to many young women viewers across the world, what makes Sharp Objects particularly impactful, perhaps almost poignant, is the manner in which it unravels the whole idea, the culture, the entire psychology of that childhood admonishment “Nice girls don’t do that.” Sharp Objects explores the sinister and dark possibilities of what the corollary of that thinking could be.

“Nice girls don’t do that.”

“Who does?”

“Bad girls.”

“So I’m a bad girl.”

“You shouldn’t be a bad girl.”

“Why not?”

“Bad girls get in trouble.”

“What trouble? What happens to bad girls?”

“Bad things.”

“What bad things?”

“Very bad things.”

“How bad?”

“Terrible!!!”

“Like what?”

“Like….”

A point the show makes early on is that both the victims of the introductory brutal murders were not your typically nice girly-girls. Camille, the traumatised protagonist carrying a burden from her past was herself not a nice girl. Amma, her deceptive half-sister manipulates the nice girl act to defy her controlling mother. But perhaps the most incisive critique on the whole ‘Be a nice girl’ culture, in fact the whole ‘nice’ culture — nice folks, nice manners, nice homes, nice towns — comes in the form of Adora’s character and the manner in which beneath the whole veneer of nice, a whole town is complicit in damning secrets and not-so-nice acts. At one point early on in the show, Adora tells her firstborn Camille, with whom she has a strained relationship (to put it mildly), “I just want things to be nice with us but maybe I don’t know how..” Interestingly it is this very notion of ‘nice’ that becomes the most oppressive and deceptive experience of young Camille, and later Amma’s growing years.

This ‘Culture of Nice’ is in fact the pervasive ‘Culture of Silence’ that women all over the world, particularly in India, are all too familiar with. 

It takes different forms, but always towards the same goal — to silence the not-so-nice details of what the experiences; sometimes intimate experiences of women might be. This Culture of Silence is propagated from the child’s earliest experience of being parented by society in general. Amongst the values that girls receive in our early years — apart from those of being obedient, dutiful, respectful, homely — we also receive the twin headed Chimera in the form of shame and guilt.

“Have some shame!”

“Oh for shame!”

“Shameless!”

“Shameful!”

“Ashamed.”

“Do not bring shame upon…”

Different phrases in different languages, but always with the same implication. Shameful things happen to girls who are not nice and that brings ‘shame’ on the family or everyone associated with the girl. And nice folks do not talk about these things. Nice folks go on as if nothing has happened.

It is this culture of silence that women across the world today, are calling out in many different ways. Whether it is the #MeToo movement or a show like Sharp Objects; or on a lighter and happier note, even a film like Veere Di Wedding punctures this culture of silence, quite simply by refusing to be silenced and saying the not-nice things, or depicting the so called ‘unspeakable’ things that could happen to girls. By talking about the unspeakable, you rob it of the power to shame you; you disallow the ‘Culture of Nice’ to erase your experience. You stand up for yourself and you build your own identity.

And this to me is the most liberating aspect of being an actor, and even just a girl at a time when shows like Sharp Objects and Big Little Lies (another great show on Hotstar Premium), and films like Veere Di Wedding and Anaarkali Of Aarah are being made.

The next time I hear someone say, “Nice girls don’t do that!”, I know what I’m going to say — I don’t give a shit about nice. I’m just a girl! And that’s okay!

Swara is a an award winning actor of the Hindi film industry. Her last few films, including Veere Di Wedding, Anaarkali of Aaraah and Nil Battey Sannata have earned her both critical and commercial success. Swara is an occasional writer of articles and opinion pieces. The occasions are frequent :).

Watch the trailer of Sharp Objects here:

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This article was published by the Scroll marketing team with Swara Bhasker on behalf of Hotstar Premium and not by the Scroll editorial team.