Tuesday, June 14, 2005



We were all mentally preparing ourselves, getting our low expectations in early. It won't tell us anything about how the summer's going to unfold. It's only a one-day match - in fact, it's barely a half-day match. It's Mickey Mouse cricket, the kind of thing they play in schools and indoor arenas. It's a slugfest, and no one does batting better and quicker than the Australians. All in all, this match will tell us nothing about the Ashes, the other one-day internationals, or indeed anything at all about the teams' performance, preparation, talent or mental strength.

Well, bollocks to that. Not having Sky, I couldn't watch the game and I preferred to listen to I'm Sorry I Haven't a Clue on the radio rather than the live coverage. I did have CricInfo ticking away with the live scorecard (much better than Ceefax, who were about three hours behind, showing England two wickets down just as the match was ending). I thought our first innings total was respectable, but no higher than one would expect from a tip-and-run form of the game. The Aussies will easily surpass that, I thought, especially with Gilchrist opening the batting, and I went and had my dinner and put Baby Gnu in the bath.

Leaving Junior with his mother and a bottle of bedtime milk, I nipped downstairs to clear up and switched the radio on, expecting the worst (ie business as usual). When I heard Aggers say: "it's always a shame when it's obvious how the match is going to end half-way through", I groaned inwardly - they're going to overtake us in the space of ten overs, I thought. Then I heard "Harmison comes in to McGrath".

McGrath? He wasn't doing that thing he did earlier this year in the charity match when he came in at Number Six as a joke, was he? No, indeed he wasn't, and three balls later Australia were all out for 79.

I'm going to repeat that, because it's so lovely: AUSTRALIA ALL OUT FOR 79.

Of course, everything I wrote in the first paragraph is still true. No doubt the smile will be off my face by the third day of the first Test. The Ashes are not coming home. I still predict a 3-1 defeat (assuming one lost to the weather). It's just that I'm a little bit more confident that it'll be 3-1, not 4-0, now.

BY THE WAY: Apparently, there is a portrait of Shane Warne going up in the Long Room at Lord's. The portrait has been painted by Fanny Rush. Couldn't make it up, could you?


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