We sometimes have conversations with friends which go something like this:
Us: I was in the pub the other day and I had a terrible pint. I thought there was something wrong with it so I asked the barman to change it. He tasted it and said it was fine, so I turned to Spider-man and asked him if he would-
Friend: Right, I’ll have to stop you there.
Friend: That was a dream. You can tell because Spider-man was in it and Spider-man’s not real.
We have never once had a dream that didn’t feature Spider-man and each and every time we think we’ve encountered Spider-man, whether he was working on the till at Lidl, cutting us up at a set of lights or asking us if we’re happy with our current energy supplier, it has later transpired that it was a dream.
We definitely saw Spider-man at the Test on Saturday, so it was clearly a dream.
The difference between England and Australia so far is that when Australia have been down, they’ve fought like bastards. Even when they lost, they still managed 406 in the fourth innings.
England fought in the first Test, but their decline since the middle of the third Test is unstoppable. The players may not know the meaning of the word momentum, but if they take a look at their deterioration from one day to the next – that’s momentum.
But why? They’re not bad cricketers. On Australia’s bad days, they scrabble to stay in it. On England’s bad days their heads drop and they seem to resign themselves to it. It’s certainly not deliberate, but is there something in the England players’ make-up that makes them this way.
We wonder whether it’s a county cricket thing. If you look like losing a county cricket match, you endure the loss and aim to win the next match, which will probably start within 24 hours. It’s easy to forget. By contrast, Australian domestic cricketers only get a handful of matches a season, so they concentrate on the here and now.
This kind of performance begs an obvious question: angry or amazed?
They say that you can never tell how good or bad a batting performance is until both sides have batted.
That’s not strictly true now, is it?
Giles Clarke says England fans shouldn’t boo Ricky Ponting. He thinks it shows a lack of respect for a great batsman. He thinks it’s offensive.
Well, you can happily discard Giles Clarke and his comments. Giles Clarke likes being photographed next to a big box of money. Not only that, but he pretty much rubs up against the box like a lonely dog and ejaculates in his pants when it happens. Now that’s offensive.
However, could we recommend that spectators make use of the silent boo? As we’ve told you before, this is the greatest weapon in the critic’s armoury.
Technically all the players’ injuries are unrelated to playing back to back Tests, because they’ve not actually played the second one yet. We don’t care. We’re blaming the scheduling because we hate back to back Tests.
There’s also the fact that for half this match, people will be saying ‘back to back Tests are hard on the bowlers’ as the poor sods labour away. Even if they’re not tired, everyone thinks they are and every batting achievement is qualified and less worthy as a result.
Tests are special. You have to put space around them.
Daisy was feeling a bit poorly the night before and was expressing the sort of indifference towards the outing one would normally expect from cats. I gently explained that this pair of tickets were the hottest items in town and that I was a mere 30 seconds away from placing the second ticket with an eternally grateful friend. I also suggested that she would no doubt feel more enthusiatic about the outing when we woke the next morning.
I was right.
We made a small picnic of nuts, mini tomatoes and baguettes stuffed with cream cheese and parma ham. A delightful little Saffer Red (we are abstaining from Aussie wine throughout the Ashes, as we did in 2005) and some water made up the drinks menu.
Our cab from the posh, expensive but reliable minicab company did not turn up at the appointed hour. The posh but (normally) reliable minicab company denied all knowledge of our booking. Daisy’s and my mood jointly deteriorated.
We resorted to the seedy, cheap and normally unreliable minicab company round the corner, who turned up within seconds of our call. The driver didn’t know where Lord’s was and barely spoke enough English to enable us to direct him there, but between the three of us we somehow managed to get there remarkably quickly. Daisy’s and my mood jointly revived.
We were near a large group of Aussie Fanatics of the older variety, who looked very enthusiastic for their team, but not especially threatening. Behind us sat some young English fogies in posh hats swilling Champagne and talking down England’s chances.
We drank a little wine and ate the nuts, but soon realised that the cricket had finished before we had eaten our main feast. We decided to eat our baguettes and tomatoes while Atherton and others erected their contraptions and expressed the usual platitudes.
Soon after we had eaten, we took what remained of the wine home with us and took a siesta for a while.
Send your match reports to email@example.com – but on no account mention the cricket.
People thinking second division cricket is just as first-class as first division cricket have bothered us in the past, but now that this view can be exploited, we don’t care quite so much. ‘Not really caring’ is a state we can slip into pretty much at will.
Rob Key‘s last three first-class matches have brought him scores of 123, 270 not out and 110. It doesn’t matter if they were bowling underarm, it’s first-class cricket and his average is in the sixties now.
It doesn’t matter that Phil Hughes averaged 143.5 in the second division and has just been dropped by Australia. Averages only count when you want them to count.
And whose should we count? Well, if Robert Key is a glass of chilled champagne, Phil Hughes is half a mug of cold, weak bovril with a turd in it – let’s just say that.
The BBC go with:
Cool Laxman steers Lancs to win
Which is fair enough. Laxman did hit 38 not out off 37 balls to get Lancashire home.
However, he was dropped twice and had a relatively easy task as Tom Smith hit 43 off 28 balls.
This is what happens when you’re the boring-named one in an opening partnership. Tom Smith should change his name to ‘Splendid McFancypants’ or something.
England’s selectors have sprung a slight surprise in picking Warwickshire’s Jonathan Trott.
We’ll say two things:
- Trott has scored a lorryload of runs on a pretty flat Edgbaston pitch (Jeetan Patel and Rikki Clarke have hit hundreds there this year).
- Test cricket is played on pretty flat pitches these days.
Does the pitch negate his runs to a degree or does it mean he’s a batsman who ensures he scores when conditions are good and is therefore well suited to Test cricket?
Jonathan Trott doesn’t care either way. He’s just peppering the boundary boards and leaving those questions to someone else – just as he should.
He probably won’t play anyway. Picking six batsmen is the kind of cowardly thing Australia do.
This seems to be Peter Siddle’s greatest strength in the eyes of his team mates. When asked about their bowling attack, Australian players refer to Johnson’s speed, Hilfenhaus’s swing, Clark’s control and Siddle’s ability to run in all day.
You don’t want bowlers to run in all day. You want them to take enough wickets that your team can have a bat.
You also want your bowlers to release the ball immediately after running in, preferably propelling it somewhere towards the stumps. Merely running in isn’t even half the job. The batting equivalent would be ‘he holds the bat in his hands’.