Australia v England, Twenty20, Sydney

It’s the hit-and-giggle of the winter season. I can’t imagine for a second England will win it, even with this new bloke Michael Vaughan in the side. In fact, especially with him in the side. Still, it’s always good for a giggle – even if Ricky Ponting refuses to enjoy it, or see the fun side. It’s a game, Ricky…

I think it starts at 8am tomorrow so, if you’re up and interested, post your thoughts here.

The anguish of Adelaide

I often enjoy Simon Barnes’s pieces at The Times and he’s produced a really crisp and imaginative recollection of the nightmare of the 2nd Test at Adelaide.

It was cricket as it might have been written by Kafka: a hideous punishment, as unjust as it was incomprehensible, inflicted on people who had earned the right to expect better things from life. It was like playing cricket against the Gestapo: cricket as a form of atrocity in which resistance is useless. It was cricket as torture, in which pain and hatred become distorted into a loving and grateful submission to the torturer.

I shall never forget the streets of Adelaide afterwards, the numb shock of the England supporters. These things don’t happen. We couldn’t have seen that. Brains simply refused to process the information they had received. The England press corps, a more resilient bunch on the whole, were to be found the next day at the airport, each with the thousand-yard stare of the Vietnam vet.

That the torture only lasted an hour was something of a reprieve for us, for England. It was quick – still painful – and violent, and will never be forgotten. Like someone slitting a capillary on their wrist, England bled fatally. Barnes even goes as far to say that “it was the most extraordinary passage of cricket I have seen and one of the most shocking things I have witnessed in any sport”. I’m not sure I can quite agree, but nevertheless it was a period of play which must go down as one of the most captivating (or unwatchable, depending on which side of the fence you sit) in modern times.

Where to now for England?

Not really had time to write anything on Australia’s magnificent performance, and England’s complete acquiescence. So I’m opening it up to you, before which I’ll just offer a brief thought which is nagging away at me.

Nasser Hussain and David Lloyd made some fascinating remarks following the loss at Sydney. They noted that Australia have a team bus, and a designated bus driver – usually one of Stuart Clark or Shane Warne. Warne would be seen hauling his bag from the hotel to the bus, fag in mouth and off they’d go to the ground.

England, on the other hand, have a huge, luxury coach in which to travel. The bags are all sorted for them and they’re surrounded by security guards and pamperers. They don’t lift a finger. This alone can’t lose a team the Ashes, but it’s evidence of the effect 2005 had on England; an over-reaction to a series which was far closer than people realised. Then, England pick-pocketed the urn from Australia; in reverse, this time, Australia have stolen it back like a violent bulldozer prising an ATM from a high-street wall.

Your thoughts? Where do England go from here?

Nanny state seeps into cricket grounds

And I thought Tony’s Britain was bad. John’s Australia is worse than Tony’s United State of Europe and George’s USA combined and the effects of the 21st century phenomenon, the nanny state, is seeping into cricket grounds at a rate of knots.

Last year the ICC began to ban people bringing in alcohol into grounds. I saw it first hand at The Oval last summer.

A fan is forced to consume the contents of his highly dangerous aluminium can of coke

The ICC’s problem, so we are told, is the highly dangerous aluminium and glass bottle containers the evil public bring in. In theory, this could cause a disturbance (or, presumably, death). The real reason, I fear, has more to do with driving the public into the bars to spend more money.

Also, beach balls – those venomous, violently coloured plastic balls of carbon dioxide otherwise known as Balls of Doom – are often confiscated by the fun police in Australia, and England. And now the Mexican Wave has been banned. Quite how you enforce this latest one is beyond me, short of super gluing everyone to their seats. But the best example of this disgusting infringement of our freedom comes from Rod, out in Australia at the moment, who tells us:

A friend was told to lift off his sunglasses from one barman yesterday so he could examine his eyes: if they looked drunk he was told to return to his seat.

What’s next? Will bats come under the spotlight? Balls? What about that most venerable of snacks, the pork pie? You’re not even allowed to sneeze at Brisbane: The Telegraph’s Martin Johnson reported in the first Test that one spectator was asked to vacate his seat until his sneezing fit had finished. It is an unbelievable farce that ground authorities have the power to treat the paying public in this manner and, before long, it will backfire.

Nearly a whitewash

England are on the verge ofa 5-0 whitewash against australia

Australia v England, 5th Test, Sydney, 3rd day

The third day from the SCG. We could be in for a spectacular display of fireworks, none of which I will see as I’ll be asleep. In fact, it could even be all over by the time I arise from my slumber.

Chat away!

Never mind the cricketers. Think of us

The worst result of England’s dire winter has just hit me: the media response from the non-cricket-specific outlets. We are firmly back to the 1990s and it’s fairly sickening.

In the glory days of 2005 (if you can remember that far back), England’s victory silenced the doubters and the ignoramuses. They didn’t have any basis to slag the sport off; England were winning, and cricket was cool. All change. England are losing and cricket is for losers. Cue the dry-witted script-writers jumping all over England’s three-wheeling bandwagon with predictable, bland, pointless tongue-in-cheek remarks.

“And the third day’s play gets underway at 10.30 tonight – IF YOU CAN STAND IT – on BBC Radio 4 Long Wave,” reads the news reporter, with a smarmy ‘I know what I’m talking about; England can’t play cricket’ look on her face.

“Dark days for English cricket, then. But how’s the weather? Over to Mike Smugplank, hello Mike.”

“Oh hello there, yes, well England’s cricketers may not be enjoying the sun in Sydney and I’m afraid it’s not looking much brighter here either”

Oh how witty and clever – not to mention topical! Please change the record. You are not funny or remotely clever. And England’s so-called national sport, foot****, is still awarded the undeserved privilege of the news reader saying: “If you don’t wish to know the score, look away now”. Oh, come off it.

It’ll spread like a virus. Every comedy show, ever stand-up in London, every unimaginative script writer and bored subeditor on a daily will be trying desperately to fit in a mention to England’s failure as a cricket team. That’s fine, but for God’s sake don’t do it with a smarmy grin on your face!

And here endeth the first rant of 2007.

Australia v England, 5th Test, Sydney, 2nd day

A better day for England yesterday. What has day two in store? Andrew Flintoff is not out this morning, which is often a good sign. If anyone’s watching, leave a comment.

Wither, English willow

George Patterson, an Australian, has offered his thoughts on the Ashes…as a poem.

Food for thought

The MBE is in oversupply
H.M. is in a dither,
English Willow, once straight and true
Now appears to wither.

The Balmy Army of true Brits
Sit within the sheltered bank,
To each award a feathered chapeau
And a ‘Garter’for each shank.

In melodious voice they chant for ‘Reign’
Then give a lusty cheer,
“God Bless our noble saintly George…
But First.. God Bless the Aussie beer!”

Australia v England, 5th Test, Sydney, 1st day

Happy New Year to all. Hope you’ve decided your new year resolutions. And let’s hope England have, too. I don’t think comments are working here at the moment…if they are, do leave one. If not, rock on like the rockers you are.