Corridor of Uncertainty number plates

“I know that you’re a bit hard up for money to keep the blog going,” Hammy writes, “but to sell number plates relating to your blog? Really. Taken in Perth, Western Australia. I’ve been waiting for ages for the COU number plate to arrive and took a photo of the first one that I came across.”

Corridor of Uncertainty on a BMW

Not guilty, m’lud. Donations and/or free hosting and/or beer and chocolate gratefully received though.

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

I’ve a feeling England won’t last until lunch. Andrew Flintoff has forgotten how gifted he is in simply hitting the ball; Geraint Jones is far too desperate to impress anyone and there begins the tail. Kevin Pietersen’s still in though, the freak, so how about he gets his fourth score of 158 and puts on 220 with Monty Panesar, who ends up 121*?

Yeah, ok. Chat away.

Australia v England, 3rd Test, Perth, 4th day

The fourth day from Perth, and quite possibly the last. If you can stand it, get a chattin’.

An unmissable horror show

By the time I’d reached double figures, my brother had subjected me to most of the vile horror and thriller movies Britain and Hollywood had churned out. Older brothers are good for this. I’d worked through the initial mind-bending disgust and learned to appreciate their cinematic qualities, or so I insisted. And today, watching Adam Gilchrist smack the second-fastest Test century, I was transported back to my youth.

Like England, I no longer feared Gilchrist. Bring Freddie around the wicket and let the ball do the rest. But once Gilly passed fifty, everything clicked spectacularly. England were sinking like ten Titanics piled on top one another, and Australia were beating the urn from them like an unruly bouncer confiscating a teenager’s alcopop. The sixes were worthy of 12 and the unrestrained violence was just too delicious to ignore. You wanted him to get there. Viv Richards? Who’s he? Let Gilly beat it, and some. I was urging him on like a true blue Aussie (or a true green’n’gold).

One feedbacker to Cricinfo proclaimed Matthew Hoggard as the most unsporting bowler ever to draw breath (or words to the effect of) by preventing Gilchrist from taking the record from Richards. Yes, Hoggard did send the ball wider and Gilchrist couldn’t quite reach it – but that is the bowler’s job. I’m not convinced Hoggie was even aware of the record, anyway…

Epic. Sometimes, foes are just impressive not to admire. (read his full innings via Cricinfo’s ball-by-ball. Shouldn’t take long…)

Australia v England, 3rd Test, Perth, 3rd day

The third day at Perth. It’s quite simple for England: take 9 wickets for about 50 and knock off 200 runs. It’s possible, too; all they need is for Steve Harmison to find some bounce and Monty Panesar some turn. Fortunately, Harmison is finally looking like a bowler in this series and not a stray from the Barmy Army. And Monty, well – we all know about the Montster.

Blind optimism is well and truly the way to go. It’s the 1990s all over again. Also: if you have any Russian friends, here’s how to say Happy Christmas: Pozdrevlyayu s prazdnikom Rozhdestva is Novim Godom.

Get chatting.

Monty’s two-finger salute

It’s been as emphatic a two-finger salute to Duncan Fletcher as he could have produced; a five-wicket haul, enthusiastic fielding and a classy cameo at No.11. Monty Panesar hasn’t put a foot wrong and has made Fletcher look even more stubborn, righteous and pig-headed than we already suspected.

And his time is nigh. This is it for Fletcher. Only he will reason why he chose to alter a winning attack for the first Test at Brisbane, trying blindly to resurrect the dream of Ashes 2005. But come January the call for his head will ring louder than the Barmy Army’s bugler, and so it should. For all his outstanding work during his tenure, his copybook has been spectacularly blotted. Sadly, for he really did help engineer a change in attitude in English cricket (for the better), he is now a millstone around England’s neck.

Before this series, any decision he made was justified by the media. Nasser Hussain, in particular, has always been quick to defend Fletcher’s selections while describing him as a coach who rarely, if ever, makes the wrong choice. When Monty on-drove Stuart Clark for four, straight back past the bowler, during a vital last-wicket hurrah with Steve Harmison, there were quizzical looks from the Australian fielders. Who is this bearded wonder? It was as classy an on-drive as any left-hander could have dreamed for. And another nail in Fletcher’s coffin.

Australia v England, 3rd Test, Perth

The third Test between Australia and England gets underway tomorrow morning at the ungodly 2.30am GMT. All is not lost for England yet (well, I was bound to say that). Opening this up early as no doubt you splitters won’t have the bottle to stay up all night…we’re on ball-by-ball at Cricinfo so keep tuned there.

Chat away!

You know what really gets me…

…about the whole Ashley Giles selection is he has been vilified for being him. By everyone. Me included, and it’s pretty unfair. Those selected can’t help being selected. Therefore, just to reiterate, it is the selectors’ fault – not helped by Giles’s inadequacies of course, but he can only do what Ashley Giles can do…as he memorably said in 2005. Will hates people who talk in the third person. He finds it stupid and embarrassing.

If you went to a fish restaurant and ordered the chicken, you can’t expect it to be the best piece of poultry you’d ever tasted. And that’s not the chicken’s fault…it’s Fletcher’s for not choosing the cod.

Anyway, just a small point there. I’m fully aware I’ve just compared Giles to a chicken and Monty to a piece of cod. Apologies to both.

My other gripe is about Monty. He’s clearly buzzing and (unless Fletcher has a death wish) ought to play at Perth. But the pressure he is now under is approaching boiling point. He is England’s saviour apparent. 10 wickets beckon, even a knighthood. But Australia will come at him, hard, right from the off. So let’s hope he can hold his nerve, adjust his pace and loop accordingly, and see what he’s made of.

Also…Mahmood should play. In fact, go on then, what’s your XI for Perth?

Barmy Army Invasion!

Australia is already laying down limits to the amount of tickets UK tour groups can buy for the Ashes defence next year. This is perhaps not surprising- 30,000 fans are expected to make the journey to watch England’s Ashes defence.

To put it in perspective, 30,000 would sell out Brisbane, Adelaide and Perth, and the capacity of the SCG is only 40,000.

The MCG, with a 100,000 capacity would hold them comfortably, but I’m expecting a sell out of even that stadium for the first day.

Test Cricket today. Hurray!

Tests are the best!

Australia take on South Africa in the First Test at Perth. South African captain Graeme Smith is ‘braced for bullies‘ and given that his side lost to a weak West Australian state side by an innings, the Australian urge to kick sand in South African faces is strong.

A personal confession, here. I loathe South African cricket, which has done nothing but bombastic boasting, boring and unadventurous captains and hilarious World Cup chokes since they were re-admitted in 1992. The last two times Australia toured the place, we heard a great deal in the South African press about how they were going to stuff us, and Australia responded by crushing them by an innings in the First Test. I suppose I owe it to my readers that I can’t be entirely objective about South Africans, and should bear that in mind when they read my stuff.

South Africans must be pretty anxious about the crowd because Andre Nel says that they aren’t worried about being abused by the crowds. If you weren’t worried about it, why would you talk about it? It is not like South African crowds are prim and proper-Johannesburg is not known as ‘the Bullring’ for nothing.

Australia have included Nathan Bracken in the lineup, instead of Stuart MacGill, and South Africa are likely to be missing Jacques Kallis. He is one of the few South Africans with a proven record against Australia so they will miss him.

Australia have never lost a series to South Africa since readmission, and have not lost a series at home since 1992-93. I do not think South Africa have the bowling attack to change those facts. Also, Smith does not strike me as the sort of cool figure that can lead his side to an upset victory. But it’s Test cricket so hurray!