The Ashes, Second Test, Day One: Beer and Gloating in S.A

After three days of relatively normal sleep, the dog and I returned to the sofa. Ponting's angry, Jimmy's swinging and a girl from Massachusetts is involved...
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After three days of relatively normal sleep, the dog and I returned to the sofa. Ponting's angry, Jimmy's swinging and a girl from Massachusetts is involved...

The opprobrium heaped on the Australian cricket team by the country’s press this week makes turning Graham Taylor’s head into a turnip seem like a playground joke. If there is one thing that Australians hate more than losing, it is losing to the Poms. The best bit about it is the first test was a draw. Imagine what will happen when they lose a test, they’ll be burning effigies of Ponting in Goolagong and marching on parliament to intervene and make Shane Warne captain.

It’s at times like this you have to love Andrew Strauss. “It’s nil-all, isn’t it?” he said, with the insouciant air of a hunt master who has just peeled the broken body of one of his spaniels from under three tons of Defender. They don’t call him Lord Brocket for nothing.

It is, however, undeniable that Australia were rattled in the lead up to this test. The watermark of their dominance over the past 15 years has been consistency. They have been loathe to change unless absolutely necessary. When they have made changes in the past it usually because of illness or injury, so when Ricky Ponting still didn't know his Xl when interviewed by Jonathan Agnew (the first time this has happened in 18 Ashes tests) and then the selectors called up a 31-year old (Ryan Harris) who can only manage 15 overs a day such are his knee problems, and Doug Bollinger, a man who is also returning from injury and resembles the bastard lovechild of Tintin and a swede, England had reasons to be cheerful.

And it didn’t take long for cheer to turn into naked, screaming delight.

I’d decided to listen to TMS while watching Sky last night. Too much time is allowed to drift by the TV commentators and as I’m battling sleep deprivation, red wine addiction and death by toast, I decided I needed constant mental stimulation. Thing is, the radio is a split second ahead of the TV and I was still dealing with this when Aggers screamed, “run out.” ‘Knackers to this,’ I thought, and hit mute on my laptop and went back to the Athers and Michael Holding

As Ponting was walking in, I wrote the following. ‘Run out, fuck off, get him pressing early, 150th test.’ The dog watches cricket with me, or rather he stays with me for the odd crumb of cheese. We’ve changed his food in the last few days, he’s now on some Reindeer meat from Sweden and, as Punter marched to the crease windmilling his bat, I was typing with flared nostrils and a cat’s arse mouth as a putrid stench wafted from underneath the table. Trying to think who I might look like, I was halfway through typing Gordon Brittas when Anderson started his run up and had just pressed the full stop key as Ponting went hard at the ball and sent it flying to Graeme Swann.

I was prancing around the living room like Caligula after a particularly rough tupping session with a horse and a eunuch.

“And Ricky Ponting is out for a Golden Duck in his 150th test match, what a ball by Jimmy Anderson…”

The tweet feed went mental, I jumped up in the air screaming and came down on the dog’s foot. So now he’s not only shitting like a horse, but also walking like he’s fallen at the first fence at Aintree. Brilliant. Vet’s in the snow anyone?

Within three minutes Clarke had gone to an even better ball and I was prancing around the living room like Caligula after a particularly rough tupping session with a horse and a eunuch. Shit the bed, stone the crows and start the freaking car. The Aussies are in disarray.

Let’s go back to that word, freaking. Normally, I’d steer clear of substituting a good bit of old English profanity for an Americanism. But, if you’ve been on Twitter in the last week, you’ll know about the 18-year-old girl from Massachusetts who, unfortunately for her, goes by the name of theashes.

The first bombardments of her feed were entirely accidental but, fuelled by the giggling Aggers, people the world over have been, let’s face it, cyber-bullying her for a week. “I’M NOT A FREAKING CRICKET MATCH…” she tweeted during the First Test.

“Indeed,” said one wag, “you are a series of Test matches played bi-annually between England and the ex-penal colony called Australia…”

She was interviewed at lunch on TMS. Clearly, she knows fuck all about cricket. Or indeed anything for that matter. The poor girl is still trying to get her head around maiden overs and Qantas are going to fly her over the Sydney Test. She’s even going to go and meet the TMS team. Can you imagine Boycott, pointing at her and repeating, “That’s just not creeek-eeeettttt.”

England played some fine creeeeek-eeeeet. The team fielded with brio, bowled with intelligence and Graeme Swann has got one back in his personal battle with Mr. Cricket. This could be the sub-plot that splits the Kangaroo’s pouch.

To bowl Australia out for 245 on a good batting pitch is highly commendable, but not as much fun as pissing off Ricky Ponting. As Strauss and Cook walked off the field of play following one over of fast, over-pitched bowling from Ryan Harris. Ponting went fucking mental at Strauss. Toys, rattle, nappy and blanky came flying out of the pram.

“If I was him, “ said Botham, “I’d go and have a beer, he’s had a bad day…”

Sounds like a plan, Beef, shame it’s 8am here.

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