Let’s get ready to rumble!

A day to go… I have stocked up on smokes, chips, Coca-Cola, and other essential items that are needed to help the Australian cricket fan get through the First Test. Backup devices such as batteries for the radio are also on standby in case of a blackout.

You can not be too careful, after all.

The good news is that I’ve passed a fitness test, and am able to take my place among the millions of spectators that will be watching the series. Doubts remain about the fitness of players on both sides.

In fact, it’s been a bit of a circus watching the injuries to players. Even with the players that do make the field… Justin Langer’s first game back after a major head tonk. Matthew Hayden got bitten by a dog. Shane Watson has done a hammy. Stuart Clark’s not quite right with his thigh.

For England, Ian Bell is sore after a blow in the nets. Trescothick’s gone home. Steve Harmison has a niggle and probably wishes he was home. Andrew Flintoff’s only just come good and Michael Vaughan, well we never know if he will ever come good.

I don’t know about the UK at all, but here in Australia, the government and the doctors are always nagging us to get out and be active more, exercise and stuff. I’m not so sure. After typing that injury list, I think I’ve got a wrist strain….

I’d better look after it- I’ve got a remote control I need to turn on tomorrow!

Gimme a tailender

It’s perhaps a bit disconcerting that I should admit this, but what the heck. I find the current India / Pakistan series completely dull and utterly arduous. I’m not actually watching it – more’s the pity – but, by all accounts, it sounds like a dreadfully painful match. I want Ashes cricket and I want it now. I want Steve Waugh to be grinding a hundred; Mike Atherton to scratch out one of his even uglier innings; I want Merv Hughes to spit at Peter Such, and laugh at his pathetic attempts to get bat on ball; in fact, I want a return to genuine tailend batsmen.

The loss of tailenders has been a disaster to cricket. They are now a rare beast, lurking among the local leagues around the world. For the lower-order batsman playing for their countries, they can now either hold up and end or score relatively freely. WHAT? I didn’t sign up to that, thanks very much. What about our tailend heroes? Tufnell, Such, Fraser; Hughes, May, McGrath; Walsh, Ambrose, Benjamin. And, of course, Danny Morrison, although his record-efforts of saving a Test (correct me if I’m wrong, which I usually am about anything historical) do edge him out of the class of a genuine muppet.

I want these back. I don’t want super-slick, multi-dimensional, do-it-all (and B&Q) players. I want batsmen that can bat brilliantly. When the batsmen roll their arms over, I want them to do a Bob Willis impression (his bowling action, not his suicidally-dull voice) and make a fool of themselves. Nevermind if they concede 12 or 30 from the over – give us some chuffing entertainment and stop taking it all so seriously. And I want brilliant bowlers; bowlers who couldn’t bat even if they had weekly training sessions with Boycott and Bradman. I want them to fall over, ideally on their stumps, or on their arse, with predictable regularity. Make them look foolish, and give the fans what they want!

Not a clue what I’m on about, but perhaps it explains my dislike of cricket’s new found “slick” and shiny and business-oriented nature. Graham Gooch, when he did his Bob Willis impression, had me in fits. It wasn’t that funny, in actual fact – it just demonstrated cricket’s ability to be bigger than just a game; for there to be interesting and funny parts to the days play. Tailenders were apart of that (“Way hay, it’s Such and Tufnell! Here. We. Go!”). Nowadays, the emphasis is on etching out as many runs as possible, an admirable statement of intent – and one I admire especially when England play – but let’s not forget cricket is a game, and everyone involved should treat it as such.