The Ashes, Second Test, Day Two: The Cook Report

Well wasn't that a treat? Cook looks imperious, the Aussies can't bowl and KP has entered stage right. Barmy Army indeed...
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I got cyber sledged yesterday. And, rather than being furious about it, I’m ecstatic. It’s quite lonely staying up to watch the cricket, so when I checked the comments box of yesterday’s Ashes diary and read the following it breathed a bit of life into my ailing bones. “Wow Owen,” ‘Matt’ said in a HTML Aussie accent, “that picture of you makes you look like an utter faggot.”

Not merely a faggot, but an utter faggot. Brilliant, ‘buy that man a cattle prod’ I replied. I’m still waiting for a reply but I did sledge the dog a bit last night. He wasn’t really interested, in fact as the severity of my sledging increased, he rolled even further on his back and let me tickle his belly while his lipstick popped out. Which, when you think about it, is not a million miles away from what happened in Adelaide overnight.

Charles Bukowski, the poet laureate of boozers, bums, whores and blue-collar workers once wrote that, “People in love often become edgy, dangerous. They lose their sense of perspective. They lose their sense of humour. They become nervous, psychotic bores. They even become killers."

If you add the words ‘with cricket’ after love, then it’s a pretty bang on statement about supporting a team who are being flayed in front of their own fans. I can just imagine Matt, his feet resting on a pile of self-published Mein Kampf pamphlets, empty tins of VB all around him, watching the cricket in a wife beater and a pair of stained boxers. With Waltzing Matilda playing at 33rpm in the background, he sits enraged as Cook, Trott and Pietersen take his beloved bowling attack to the cleaners. His missus is at work, so when they break for lunch he decides to knock one out into the half finished meat pie that is resting on his bulbous stomach.

With his cock in one hand and self-loading Walther PP in the other, he rises and shoots her in the stomach before turning the gun on himself.

He’s on the vinegar strokes when his missus walks in and screams. “Shut up, Nancy,“ he shouts. With his cock in one hand and self-loading Walther PP in the other, he rises and shoots her in the stomach before turning the gun on himself. He rests it on his temple, delivers one final Nazi salute, and presses the trigger. It clicks. He’s run out of bullets. “Utter faggot,” he says, and rewinds back to the really good bit, where the Hitler lookalike was teaching that gay man a lesson by rogering him senseless.

This really is new territory for an England fan of my vintage. The late 90s was where I cut my teeth and really fell in love with the game. I didn’t work a lot, and when I did I’d often either quit or be ill to make sure I could get five, often three, days in front of the TV watching Gough, Athers, Stewie and the like getting hammered by all-comers. We’ve had a couple of decent teams since then, but it’s been a long time since our top order have treated the Australian bowlers with such contempt.

A lot of the talk before the series was that if they could get Strauss out the rest would follow. The skipper sent himself packing again last night but I didn’t hear one alarm bell go off. Except, possibly, in Matt’s house, after he set fire to his own head trying to toast a live chicken. There’s a theory that Alistair Cook will struggle when we next play on home soil. The ball moves more and his technical deficiencies will again come to the fore. Who gives a shit? He’s currently averaging 400-odd in Australia and, should he continue in this vein, could break an 80-year record set by the great Wally Hammond. In 37 degree heat, the man they call Cheffy (see what they’ve done there the little scamps) barely broke sweat. He’s added a delicious cover drive to his excellent pulling and cutting and the Aussies have no idea where, why, or how to bowl at him.

Credit must also go to Jonathan Trott. He might be as South African as biltong but he now averages 60 batting at three and, even better, pisses everyone off with his protracted preparations before every ball. Saying that, I was glad when he got out. No one annoys Australia more than Kevin Pietersen, and I’ve been banging on all week about how, if he gets in and posts a big one, it will serve as another vital blow to the sternum of Australian cricket.

KP is our dynamite. He scores at a rapid rate and to win test matches you need an accelerator of his ilk. He took the pressure off Cheffy when he came in. Cook was happy to plod along while Pietersen decided that, for once, he was going to dominate the left-arm spinner. Poor Xavier Doherty looks like he’s had a hard life. Not only has he been dragged out of first-class cricket, with an average of 46 no less, to fill the boots of Warney, but he had to grow up in Tasmania with a name like Xavier. ‘Shane, Russ, Doug, Billy… Xavier. Who’s fucking Xavier? That’s an utter faggot name if ever I’ve heard one.’

So there we are, a man named Chef has turned up the heat and his mate KP has arrived to clean up.

All we need now is a waiter to serve it cold.

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