No, this isn’t plea to bring back old money. That’s the total Somerset declared on earlier today. I may have missed the point, but presumably the thinking was to have a crack at Middlesex while the conditions were right and stop the opposition from getting full bowling points. It hasn’t worked in one sense, as Middx are currently 71 for 0. As far as bowling points, perhaps it was very shrewd of their skipper Justin Langer. (If this has already been discussed on The Corridor, then I apologise.)

Ordinarily, I might launch into a rant about cheating Aussies bending the rules, but I happen to be a big fan of Langer, so I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt. But it does leave a bad taste in the mouth, not least as one of my fantasy team bowlers was denied the chance of filling his boots! (I also have Langer, who got a duck…)

Is it bad sportsmanship, clever captaincy or even a missed opportunity? What if Caddick had slapped a quick-fire 40? It could have changed the momentum entirely.

Aussie fans: a case study

“That’s a bloody disgrace, getting out like that! He should be ashamed of himself. Disgusting! What an idiot!”

To listen to the Aussie next to me (this was a rough translation – please add expletives to taste), you could be forgiven for thinking that Matthew Hayden had missed a full toss first up. Of course, the big Queenslander had just helped himself to another hundred on a blazing hot day in Grenada. From a television screen behind us in this perfect cricket ground, I could hear the commentator Mark Nicholas pouring forth his usual treacle, hailing the innings as a treat for the crowd and a display of expert strokeplay. Which it was.

Australian fans

Perhaps, therein lies the difference between winners and losers. A hundred wasn’t enough, even if the score was 220 odd for 3. Imagine if Michael Vaughan had scored 100, would we be berating him? Hayden also stalked off like he had just swallowed a wasp, before saluting the massed ranks of jubilant Aussies that had swelled the ground to a record attendance. I sat in the party stand for an hour or so until it got too hot for my pommy skin and I marvelled at how the ‘Hayden strut’ is so much part of the Australian male. They all walk about like him, shoulders back, chest puffed and chin forward. My favourite example was a skinny wretch built like Mr Muscle, who still tried to make the most of what he had, posturing about like Arnie in a street brawl. But at least he was fully clothed, unlike the Speedo brigade who hugged and grappled every time something went their way. Aussies are real men!

Joking apart, it was great to see a proper total posted. Shane Watson was the surprise package, playing shots that defied belief, all of them pure and proper. I was one of the many who couldn’t understand why the selectors kept coming back to him. “He’s like chopped liver,” said one of the Aussies on the boat, which I presume is a bad thing. However, and not for the first time, I was proved wrong. He was brilliant.

Ian Valentine is a freelance journalist blogging his diary of the World Cup for The Corridor

Andrew “Roy” Symonds

The crowd goes ballistic when he strides to the crease. For a guy that has been around since 1999, and been a proven matchwinner in the Australian side since the 2003 World Cup, it is curious that it has taken until now for the Australian public to embrace him in this way.

“Oh, look, mate,”

Enjoyable piece today in The Telegraph, and yet another sycophantic article about the Australians:

“Oh, look, mate,” said Mike Hussey, using the three-word introductory phrase that is apparently now a contractual obligation among Aussie cricketers, “with Brett it could be his mum batting down there and he’d still bounce her out.”

Australians in county cricket

Angus Fraser, who I urge all of you to read more of this summer (yes – he of lumbering, moaning, giant, RBS*, 8 wickets v West Indies twice fame), attempts to balance the argument of having so many Australians playing in county cricket. I mentioned this a few weeks ago, and on reflection I think Gus makes valid points.

Australia aren’t favourites because of their playing county cricket; they’re just overall a better side. We’ll no doubt see more tabloid scaremongering in the coming weeks. 93 days to go, guys and girls…

* Right-arm Bloody Slow

A look back on Ben Hollioake

Most Brits will know the name Ben Hollioake, but he wasn’t famed for his cricket. Sadly it was death which really brought his name to the forefront of people’s minds, when he died aged just 24 in his birthplace Australia in 2002. There’s a marvellous obituary of him at Cricinfo, which I think highlights all you need to know about him, and in particular why his innings of 63 on debut against the Australians was so special to everyone who watched.

This bloke, who none of us knew of at all, strolled to the wicket and took apart their attack. 1997 was in the dark, gloomy days of English cricket – and suddenly we had a shining light to cheer. There was a freedom, simplicity and genuine class in his strokeplay; skipping down the wicket to McGrath, sweeping Warne for 6 and cheekily edging Kasper through vacant slip positions. All this promise cut short when he was 24 – it was a really bloody awful thing to have happened.

His older brother Adam (excellent, tough cricketer himself and England ODI captain) was naturally completely devastated, and setup the Ben Hollioake fund which is in association with CHASE Hospice Care. He does all kinds of charity events and marathon’s to support the fund.

So, I’ve come by this video of that very innings – and it’s really worth watching. It’s about 30MB, so not too bad, and I hope you enjoy it. Download here (make sure you right click and choose “Save as” or “Save to disk” – and not stream it…)