Posts Tagged ‘cardiff’
England’s inconsistency in test matches over the last six months is taking on a mesmeric quality. Their form now has a sort of rhythm, a thumping techno beat of alternate triumph and disaster or near disaster. If we trace the story back to Chester-le-Street in May and we scratch from the record the moist non-event that was the third Ashes Test at Edgbaston, then a pleasing pattern can be spied:
2nd test vs West Indies, Chester-le-Street: Win
1st test vs Australia, Cardiff: Near defeat
2nd test vs Australia, Lords: Win
4th test vs Australia, Headingley: Defeat
5th test vs Australia, Oval: Win
1st test vs South Africa, Centurion: Near defeat
2nd test vs South Africa, Durban: Win
3rd test vs South Africa, Cape Town: Near defeat
All of which means that it’s a fallacy to suggest that you never know what to expect from this England side. You know exactly what to expect, just reverse the performance from the previous game. Happily the formula dictates that we should have nothing to fear at the Wanderers and a series-clinching victory should be facile.
It’s Chittagong in early spring that we should be worried about.
I don’t think I’m going to pass comment on cricket any more. I will certainly abstain from making any predictions. On Thursday evening I described England as ‘a bit shit’. Today they won the Ashes. I guess I’ll just write stuff about how massive Shane Watson’s ass is or ponder on whether Bob Willis is actually a horrible old woman.
One thing I will say about today is that we should all spare a thought for Ravi Bopara. I heard both Steve Harmison and Andy Flower refer to the fourteen men who had won England back the Ashes. Fourteen? Okay. So there were the eleven on the pitch at the Oval. And Graham Onions, Monty Panesar and Kevin Pieter Pietersen in attendance to join the party and collect their medallions. That’s fourteen. But just because Bopara wasn’t actually there doesn’t mean he doesn’t exist any more. It seems that not only has he been dropped but also wiped from the memory bank like Kate Winslet in The Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind.
Admittedly Bopara did not make much of an impact on the series. But…er…remember that 36 he scored in the first innings at Cardiff? It took vital time out of the game which proved crucial later on. Massive straw-clutch. Don’t care. Give that man a medallion.
I knew that Ashes fever had reached London this morning when I minced out of Oxford Circus to be immediately offered a SkySports promotional miniature bat, one of those that cricket fans collect autographs on. Slightly optimistic given that my work is a good 30-minute walk from Lords and the chances of any of the cricketing glitterati wandering aimlessly down Baker St towards the West End were slim. Although I did see Lords Taverners legend John Kettley outside my office once.
Of course I was excited today. Not only was it the morning of the Lords Test against Australia, but also the first round of the Open golf championship up on the Ayrshire coast at Turnberry. I am normally more enthusiastic about this tournament but it has been relegated by the Ashes to the status of a diverting sideshow. I reckon that is because if Geoff Ogilvy or Adam Scott or some other plucky Australian finds their name etched onto the side of the Claret Jug I will stand and applaud and say ‘jolly well played cobber’.
If the name of Ricky Ponting is inscribed onto the little brown urn I will think that is wrong on several levels, but mostly because England have been vanquished again in the series. That particular fear subsided briefly this morning as the England openers set about the Australian bowling with eye-popping ferocity. Mitchell Johnson looked as if he was going to walk away there and then with the Jason Gillespie award for being surprisingly shit.
But as I suspected at lunch the English batsmen found new and novel ways to invite Australia back in the game. I wondered whether Paul Collingwood was worried about being typecast as a nuggetty cricketer after his performance in Cardiff as he pranced negligently down the wicket and back to the pavilion against Michael Clarke, a bowling temp.
Andrew Strauss will be proud of himself but frustrated by his colleagues as they missed an opportunity to put Australia out of the game. He might also be hounded by the terrifying thought that 500 might not be enough on this pitch against these baggy green batters.
The course of this game will be massively influenced by the weather and probably dictated the pace at which the match moved forward today. Perhaps Strauss and Ponting should consult John Kettley for some advice. I know where he is. He’s outside my office.
I always wake with butterflies fluttering about my stomach on the first morning of an Ashes series. But they seemed more energetic than ever today. In fact I had to duck into Caffe Nero on my walk to the bus stop to deposit said butterflies into one of their facilities.
Looking at the charcoal skies in London I wasn’t particularly hopeful that we’d have play out west in Cardiff. I spent three years there and I’m still drying out my wardrobe from the frequent rainshowers.
I made the necessary mental preparations to reconcile myself to the fact that I would only be able to follow the action via internet updates. My provider of choice is Cricinfo, largely for the sheer wonderful volume of statistical analysis. There is little in the world that is more satisfying than witnessing the first class average of a particular batsman tick over by 0.01 of a run. Live.
But the biblical deluge that smote London yesterday evening created a minor tsunami which battered the systems room at my office and sozzled all the computer circuits. Which also created a minor flood down my cheeks.
Never fear. So to the mobile which also cunningly contains Cricinfo. The slightly irksome difference is that you have to pay. Quite a lot of money. If I compared the cost of mobile internet connection to my daily salary, I’d probably make the depressing discovery that I’d actually paid to be at work today.
Maybe it was worth it though. Following the cricket on a mobile phone is strangely involving. I can still hate Peter Siddle through a tiny rectangle of text. With his idiotic triangle of fluff under his bottom lip. He may as well have ‘twat’ written on his chin.
And I still experienced the vertiginous nausea that a rollercoaster day of Test cricket such as today can cause (and Twenty20 can’t). You’ll read more informed analysis of the day’s play in the papers and other blogs but suffice it to say that both captains will be satisfied. And Strauss will be particularly encouraged that there seems to be rich rewards from seam and turn to be harvested by his multi-faceted bowling attack.
Game on. Ashes on.