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Week 9: Cheers England!

Sunday 17th November

Nudgee NetsThis is where the magic happens. If Jack's not careful

Sunday involved talking to Clem, followed by catching up on yesterday’s diary entry. Some people say that you’ll be more objective about something if you write about it a while after it’s happened. At least I think they do. Anyway, I feel no less angry about my 30 yesterday. It’s not really good enough.

Later in the day I went to pick up the leaflets and started rolling some of them ready. Wally got back from his game and told us all about how he had been bowled first ball of the day. At least someone else is struggling a bit too. I have someone I can share my pain with…

 

Monday 18th November

Another action packed day full of delivering leaflets and coaching. We got most of the way through the coaching session before the sky went jet black and the fiercest storm I have ever seen was unleashed. We ran to the car and started for home, but after 2 minutes the streets were reminiscent of rivers. You could have rowed down them, more or less.

There was one exciting bit of news; I’m going to the test! Alex Kurth has a spare ticket and I can get there so I’m going. I have to be part of that group of fans that wears pyjamas and I’ll be surrounded by Aussie fans but I don’t care. I may have to develop an accent by Thursday; hell, I'll even say 'schooner' if it makes me seem more authentic!

 

Tuesday 19th November – Wednesday 20th November

Didn’t have to coach Tuesday morning thanks to yesterday night’s downpour. I used the time productively and slept. 

I’m getting excited for the test match now. I think it’s going to be a lot tougher on England this time around and the Aussies are certainly feeling confident. I would say quietly confident but that would be an outrageous lie. I’m being told about how us Poms are going to get filled in by Mitch Johnson. I’m still counting on him going to bits…

It’ll be a fairly easy week considering I’ll have only coached twice. My entries for the next few days will be extremely Test heavy. Apologies to those of you that are reading for my fascinating narrative on the day-to-day lifestyle of a partially indolent teenager.

 

Thursday 21st November

Pyjammy ArmyView of the Gabba from within the Pyjammy Army. Here we see leader Bluey Mulcahey and 1st Lieutenant Skippy Tadcaster discussing who is next to get a go of the brain cell

Here it is then. The first day of the Ashes. We headed round to James Macpherson’s place to meet up before we went. He actually lives with Wally's brother Mickey. I had to wear a pair of stupid-looking pyjamas for some reason. I think they are calling it the ‘pyjarmy army’ as a rather lame challenge to the Barmy Army. As humiliating as it is, I’ll take it in exchange for a day at the cricket!

The Gabba is spectacular. It has steep sides creating a cauldron effect around the carpet outfield. The buzz was incredible all day. It was a good day for England for the most part. Broad got right on top of the Aussie top order which was hilarious considering the fans booed whenever his name was mentioned on Tannoy. They even went with the witty and intelligent chant of ‘Broad is a w****r’. That reverberated for most of the day apart from when England got on top.

We had them 150-odd for 6 at one point but Haddin and Johnson got in and batted pretty well. The Aussie crowd went from very quiet to very noisy when the partnership hit about 30. I’d been trying not to look smug up until then. The boys I was with stopped asking me any questions about the game when they went four down. I was still complimenting the Aussie batsmen when they played good shots, which led them to make the observation ‘you just love watching good cricket.’ That’s part of it, but I was also still slightly giddy at the fact I was at the Gabba for the first test!

You could tell the Aussies had got really bored, (as well as very drunk) when someone released a pig in our section of the crowd. I couldn’t quite see it nor understand what was going on until it was carried out past us, squealing wildly, (the pig, not us) by a policeman. It made it onto the news. Whoever tried the stunt got charged with cruelty to animals. Quite right too.

I was constantly teased for being the only Englishman in the most Aussie section of the crowd too. Whenever a wicket fell, I’d just give the other guys a knowing look and was always countered with an, ‘Oh f*ck off mate!’.

The day ended with Australia 8-260. Shouldn’t be too hard to wrap that up tomorrow morning. Broad looked good today, got the ball bouncing and decking around. Swann got nothing at all, but the pitch wasn’t exactly conducive to spin. He’ll come good.

 

Friday 22nd November

TremlettChris Tremlett pictured on Day 1; eagle-eyed readers will detect the first faint signs of his credibility preparing to leave his body

Terrible, awful, shocking and above all, soft. Just some of the ways to describe how England batted today. We finished them off for 295, which shouldn’t have been anywhere near good enough against our batting line up.

It was though. We were done for 136 in what was an absolutely dismal display. Cook got a good ball and was unlucky. Carberry fought hard and Bell got a decent ball. Those were the only batsmen who didn’t throw it away. The way we played Mitch Johnson, who to be fair bowled some real thunderbolts, wasn’t exactly Test standard. There were some timid shots and guys looked like they weren’t up for the battle. Pietersen was his usual self, swaggering around trying to manufacture shots that weren’t on.

The Aussies love to hate Pietersen and have the weirdest relationship with him. Arguably, he’s our best player so they get on his back straight away. He laps it up though. It’s probably a lot like the way I hate Clarke. He’s arrogant and cocky and I think the Aussies see all that in KP. They can’t deny he can bat and they admire his talent while hating his attitude and the fact he can really hurt them. It’s much the same with Broad. The press, especially the Courier Mail, has a real campaign going against him. They refuse to publish his name and cut him out of photos, calling him ‘the 27 year old English medium pacer’. 

Warner and Rogers then survived the hour they had to bat, to cap a dreary day for England.

 

Saturday 23rd November

No cricket today so we headed to the Newmarket with Pyney and Timmy to watch the cricket. Kind of wish I hadn’t bothered. The two people in the Aussie team I hate the most, Warner and Clarke, both scored hundreds. I say the two I hate most, it’s a toss-up between Warner and Watson. I kept getting poked by the boys and asked how I was enjoying the day. I’m sure it was great fun to them.

I haven’t been the butt of as many jokes as I expected so far. Only Joe Burns calls me Pom, everyone else uses my name or Jacko. Wally is the self-proclaimed king of nicknames but he has got nothing so far. He contemplated calling me ‘batting hours’ after I complained to him about not bowling but obviously decided against it. I’m sure things will change as the series goes on.

England tried to bounce Clarke out again but got in all wrong. They need to tie him down and use it as a surprise ball, albeit a fairly regular surprise. But they went at his chest from ball one and he came out swinging. He did, although I’m loathe to admit it, bat very well. The home crowd loved every minute of course and the boys in the pub were looking incredibly smug. It's going to be an awfully long haul from here if an out-of-sorts England are going to save this Test.



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