â€œThatâ€™s a bloody disgrace, getting out like that! He should be ashamed of himself. Disgusting! What an idiot!â€
To listen to the Aussie next to me (this was a rough translation â€“ 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.
Perhaps, therein lies the difference between winners and losers. A hundred wasnâ€™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 â€˜Hayden strutâ€™ 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 couldnâ€™t understand why the selectors kept coming back to him. â€œHeâ€™s like chopped liver,â€ 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