Live: Australia v England, 2nd Test, Adelaide, 1st day

Good evening, gluttons. Ready for more punishment? I am. Adelaide starts an hour later than Brisbane, just to make it even tougher for those in Blighty.

If you’re up and awake and listening/watching to the play, get chatting.

The modern cricket journalist

It’s no longer all about words, clusters, headlines, subbing and nailing the point of your piece in the second paragraph. The modern journalist needs to cook, too, especially when covering the Ashes.

Making fish pie

Chez Cricinfo will be serving fish pie this evening. What five-star winners we are.

Desert cricket

What a terrific shot

Seen on Flickr.

The fun police

A couple of weeks ago I was midway through a big drinking session with my fellow ale-junky Keats. On the Tube, full of the joys of beer, we were standing there with our feet at 90 degrees, in a sort of Laurel’n’Hardy act of stupidity – only the kind of thing you can do when you’ve had a few, and we found the whole thing hilarious. Opposite us was a massive, rotund underground worker – bored, intent on engaging us in conversation – who said “Tsk. Yeah. Not allowed to laugh darn ‘ere no more”. And he’s right. The Tube is an odd second world, where making eye contact is tantamount to asking someone to strip naked and sing like a budgie. Talking to one another, let alone laughing, is not on. It’s not what we do. Mr Rotund was right; here we were, laughing our heads off and receiving scornful glares from scared commuters. “Why are they laughing and talking? Haven’t they read the Tube Etiquette?”

Anyway, this has very little to do with anything. But it’s one aspect of Britain I hate; there is an underlying feeling of fear in London that anyone you talk to will carry a knife and plunge it into your chest. Another instance last week. I’d been to O’Neils by Kings Cross station and was walking back to the tube when a normalish-looking person stopped the lady in front of me to ask for directions. She didn’t stop her frenetic pace, quickening her stride if anything, and the bloke gave up. He stood there aghast, arms outstretched! “You lost?” I asked, and he was. He was just wondering where the British Library was, so I pointed him in the right direction and off he went. I appreciate women might feel more vulnerable in the city than men – and that’s not sexist, even if you think it is – but she was nothing more than plain rude. And this isn’t me being massively naive; I just cannot accept that everyone is a terrorist and is out there to kill me.

Right, now then. Back to cricket. Another crap aspect of Britain is the nanny state and Martin Johnson has found plenty of evidence that Australia are following America’s lead and wrapping the entire country in cotton wool, in a great piece at the Telegraph.

Everywhere you go in Australia, you’re reminded of the American way of treating its inhabitants as though they’re mentally retarded, such as warning consumers of salted peanuts that the packet may contain nut products, or advising purchasers of household bleach that once the bottle is empty it should “not be used as a beverage container”.

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So what can we say about the prospect of an England victory? Well, for one thing their chances are not to be sneezed at. But even more in their favour is the fact that Australia’s cricketers are dangerously close to breaching their government’s own zero-tolerance policy (announced over the public address system before each day’s play) forbidding anyone from holding up anyone else to ridicule, contempt or humiliation.

So if Australia go 2-0 ahead here, their players will all be removed from the premises, ordered to do community service for the rest of the series, and the Ashes – as compensation for the severe hurt to their feelings – will be formally awarded to England.

A positive for England, then…

An odd couple: Colville and Willis

There’s a scathing attack by Jim White in today’s Telegraph on Sky’s coverage of the first Test. It’s done with humour though, and had me in stitches – especially this on Charles Colville and Bob Willis:

While Bhasin is all eager and enthusiastic, bouncing round Boycott in puppyish thrill at being there, Colville has taken it upon himself to become the Mr Angry of the Ashes, fuming about England’s selection decisions, poor bowling and limp fielding.

Anything and everything is capable of sending him into a tailspin of rage. After the first Test ended in ignominious defeat on Monday, he became so incensed he had to be restrained by his guest, Nick Knight.

“Whoa Charles,” Knight said, wearing the startled look of a man who had stumbled into a recording of the new series on Bravo, When Normally Mild Mannered Cricket Chaps Attack. In fact, it was lucky Knight was there to tip a verbal bucket of water over the steaming presenter. Had Colville’s guest been – as it sometimes has – Bob Willis, the blood pressure in the studio would have turned thermo-nuclear.

It takes an act of significant will not to cower behind the sofa every time Willis – almost as angry as Colville – comes on screen. Especially now he has taken to delivering his goggle-eyed rants direct into the camera.

All he needs is to borrow Boycott’s headgear and he will morph seamlessly into the John McCririck of cricket.

There is an obvious solution for Duncan Fletcher as he searches for the speediest way back into the series: put Colville and Willis out there in Adelaide and even the battled-hardened Aussies would take flight at the very sight of them.

Chuck’s great value – I’d rather him, with his passion and anger, than a bland, shiny toe-the-line presenter. More at the Telegraph.

Lehmann England’s next coach?

Darren Gough is a bit of a rumour merchant, but he does know Darren Lehmann pretty well. And last night, Gough said Lehmann was a “strong rumour” to replace Duncan Fletcher as England coach. Thanks to Rod:

The old boy stories continue with the news of an on-stage interview with Darren Gough last night, at the Adelaide pre-Test dinner. The former England bowler said that Darren Lehmann, the South Australian skipper, was a ‘strong rumour’ as the next England coach after Duncan Fletcher. Whether it was a blast at the current coach is unknown, but Gough said: “He teaches enjoyment to the players… his knowledge is second-to-none, especially of the England players after playing in the country for so long.”

Thoughts?

A moment of applause, please

Congratulations to Pakistan’s Mohammad Yousuf, who has gone past Sir Vivian Richards’ long standing record for the most Test runs in a year. Well done that man. As I write, he’s still at the crease, so he could still push the mark beyond 1,750 runs. A remarkable achievement!

The plot (and the humidity) thickens

The second Test here in Adelaide has had an interesting prelude with the news that Glenn McGrath will need a fitness test in the morning. It appears that his troublesome heel isn’t getting better and there must be doubts as to whether or not he is fit enough to last five days.

Faster then you can say ‘Mitchell Johnson’, the English writers are reminding us of Edgbaston. Certainly, removing McGrath from the game goes some way to making it an even contest, but that won’t help England’s bowlers take 20 wickets.

What might help though is that about 4pm this afternoon a sudden downpour hit the city of Adelaide. I was about a mile from Adelaide Oval when it struck, and if the pitch was uncovered when it happened, it will have had an effect on it. It was not very long, but it was enough to put a dampener on the Oval (and me).

The recent hot spell that has been engulfing Adelaide will now subside, and players should enjoy almost perfect weather conditions to play in, without the enervating heat of Brisbane, and there might be more humidity then at Brisbane as well. So the fates are turning ever so slightly in England’s favour. The question that remains is, are they good enough to seize the moment?

Vaughan and his duck

There has been a quiet, bubbling undertone of farce surrounding Michael Vaughan’s injury. Armfuls of straws have been shipped to Australia, and everyone is clutching at them in blind hope.

Straws. Armfuls of straws

For no other reason than he is the captain who retained the Ashes, he is seen as the only one who can keep Australia from regaining them. Desperation was always likely to be in plentiful supply after a trouncing at Brisbane, but the interest in Vaughan has been an unwelcome distraction for England’s preparations to Adelaide. In a one-day match against the might (no sarcasm intended as you’ll find out) of Western Australia 2nd XI, Vaughan last seven balls and walked back to the pavilion for nought. At one point England Academy were 12 for 5 and Vaughan could only wryly smile at the hopelessness of the situation.

Even if he his knee somehow survives these warm-ups; even if he does find form; even if he does hit a century and take seven wickets with his offspin, is he really going to be ushered in and will he really be ready to lead England in Australia? He’s practically gone bald and grey since he last played for England. Only Brearley did the grey thing to any great success. The less said about Andrew Caddick the better.

Call me a cynic, call me a bitter old bastard but I don’t see it happening. Worse still, it’s another destabilising factor for England who, at the moment, can hardly walk in a straight line without falling over.

Those bally fine chaps from the antipodes

If an advert like this appeared on a bus in Britain, slagging off the Aussues, the transport company would be sued on the spot (by the Australian embassy, firstly, followed by the Equality For All Things With Four Wheels movement).

Shuper advert that, though.

Aussie humour makes me smile

Vucko1000.