Week 10: Ups & Downpours

Sunday 24th November

Gabba NetsUnspecified English coach works with unspecified English batsman in the nets at the Gabba. Clearly visible in the foreground, is the chalk outline of where the body fell when the English batting was murdered by the Aussie bowlers

That’ll do it! England go 1-0 down in the series. The day started OK for England. Cook was his usual stubborn self. He left anything that wasn’t going to hit the stumps and looked like nothing was going to remove him. Wally loves Cook, so does Pyney. They like the way he bats in situations like that, prepared to go a whole day for nothing as long as he’s not out and England draw. I think the best thing about the Ashes and cricket in general is the way good play is admired no matter who you support. A glorious cover drive is a glorious cover drive whether it’s played by Warner or by Pietersen. Even through all the chatter and ‘intimidating’ bowling on the pitch, there’s a mutual respect for the opposition players. The Aussies secretly love KP and Broad especially.

Pietersen looked good, as per, but then holed out at fine leg trying to pull Johnson...as per. When will he learn? He was caught by Chris Sabburg (a Toombul player and fellow coach at Nudgee subbing for Australia) so we’ll be having words at coaching. I’m sure all the kids will suddenly be clamouring for his autograph.

I’m not looking forward to the next couple of training sessions. I’m sure I’ll be taking some abuse


Monday 25th November

2 main stories have emerged on what should have been the final day of the test. Clarke has been fined for some of the comments he made to Anderson that were picked up on the stump microphones. He told Jimmy to ‘get ready for a f*****g broken arm’ when he was facing up to Johnson. I don’t think he should necessarily be fined for that, it was more the fact that he got caught saying it. I’m sure there has been and will be, a lot worse said on a cricket field. 

The big one for me though is the fact that Jonathon Trott has left the tour due to an ongoing stress related illness. I knew he didn’t look like himself the other day and I guess we know why now. It must have been one of the hardest decisions he’s ever had to make and I wish him all the best. He’s the best number three we’ve had in a long time and can be very proud of his record. Hopefully he’s back playing cricket soon. It does leave a fairly big dilemma for England. I think the best option (because it’s my plan) is to go with:

  • Cook
  • Carberry
  • Bell
  • Pietersen
  • Root
  • Stokes
  • Prior
  • Broad
  • Swann
  • Anderson 
  • Panesar

I say that because Adelaide is notoriously flat. The most successful bowler there this season has been spinner Johan Botha. I think if Monty and Swann can stifle the scoring rates we can get a few wickets. Stokes is also a good option because he can play the role of the third seamer. He jogs in but then bowls 90mph rockets. Might be a good guy to bowl at Clarke…

The interesting bit is the Aussies seem to think they have the Ashes won now. That might be their downfall. I’ve been speaking to the boys from Norths and they are all very confident. They can’t see any way that Mitch Johnson - bowling as fast as he is - can fail. Wally has told me he reckons Johnson will fall to bits in at least one of the upcoming tests. He reasons that this is because Johnson is now aware of the fact he is playing well and will actually start thinking about what he’s doing. Not a bad hypothesis - there is something innately self-destructive about Johnson at times. 


Tuesday 26th November

The papers here are even more pathetic than the ones back home! I don’t know whether they are trying to sledge us from off the pitch, to go alongside the aggressive style the Aussies have on it but they don’t write about cricket...or know much about it apparently. According to Wal the 2 main writers for cricket in the The Courier Mail are actually rugby league specialists and it shows! They write articles about England being scared of the short ball and crying about sledging or just being whiney in general instead of focussing on the sport. They don’t seem to have the knowledge of the technical side of the game and instead opt to poke fun at England’s players. It’s awfully petty.

One paper even went with ‘Trott packs up his bat and ball and goes home’ when reporting on a man’s illness. Wally and I both agree that the only journalist really worth reading is Gideon Haigh. He actually knows cricket and is insightful and smart. According to Wal he’s a top bloke too. He’s replied to many emails that Wally and Mickey have sent him over the years and even helped endorse the book Wally wrote about his Granddad, who happened to be Wally Grout, the legendary Aussie wicketkeeper. It’s a very interesting book and well worth a read if you are interested in the history of the game. It’s called: ‘it’s Your Wally Grout: A grandson's tale’. Buy it online now…if you like.

I went to training in the evening and met Dan Bell-Drummond. It was nice to hear a familiar sounding accent. I’ve been very conscious of my accent when ordering anything in shops or in bars and the like. It’s a weird feeling. I batted pretty well and my bowling was accurate enough. I don’t get much spin on the artificial surface of the nets so I have to be more accurate than back home. I’ve always relied more on my turn to get wickets rather than my accuracy, so it’s odd not to see the ball go square.

Everyone knows me better now and I actually feel confident having a bit of a laugh with the guys. It’s nice to feel comfortable around them at last. As lame as it sounds, it feels like they have accepted me and that's a nice feeling.


Wednesday 27th November

Nudgee AgainNudgee was clearly a natural paradise but Jack still found it an odd place to put a bus stop

It’s the second last of day coaching before the schools break up for the Christmas holidays. This is their main holiday because it falls in the summer, so they won’t be back until the end of January. There are some cricket camps going on over the holidays so I will be able to get some work.

Because the kids were almost on holiday, they were all a little bit giddy and a normal session would have been hell. So we did about half an hour of fielding before playing a game. It was fairly tedious as I just stood at umpire. We let them bowl from both ends depending on where the ball went to keep the game flowing and at one point I decided I’d keep for the next ball. Without thinking, I produced an immaculate stumping as a kid lost balance but had to pretend it wasn’t out as it was slightly unfair. I didn’t think anyone had noticed until Tim pointed it out afterwards.

I wasn’t able to make training tonight as coaching finished too late but it turned out Wally hadn’t gone either so I didn’t feel like I’d missed out too much. Wally says he hates training as he reckons he just bats himself out of form. I love getting as much done as possible, batting especially, because I never truly feel like I’m batting immaculately. There is always room to improve.


Thursday 28th November

Coaching today was far more organised as there were so few kids there. One of the Grades was out on a school trip or something like that so we only had eight. We did some fielding as usual and then had a decent net. It was unbelievably humid and I was bombarded by mosquitos the whole time. At one point one of the kids was talking about how he could get any Spartan cricket gear whenever he wanted it. He said his Dad knew someone. I assumed it was just your standard rubbish kids talk until someone else blurted, ‘yeah but your Dad’s Andy Bichel!’ Bichel turned up at one point to drop of some kit. Ironically. 

Two interesting developments from training:

  1. Anytime I complain about anything, I’m going to get asked if I’m stressed and want to go home. This will happen for the foreseeable. Everyone finds this very amusing 
  2. Brendan Nash has given me a nickname! Now, as I keep getting out on 30 and set high standards for myself in the nets I tend to show frustration when I play a false shot. I’m worse when I get out in a game. Because of this, Nashy has given me the name ‘grumpy Jack’. 

Amazing news. At least it gives me an excuse to be a bit grumpy, because it’s only living up to my billing! I actually batted and bowled well so there wasn’t much reason to be too grumpy tonight. I’ve probably let everyone down.


Friday 29th November

Wal and I went to the Greg Chappel Cricket Centre today because I wanted to have a look at pads and a helmet. My helmet, especially, is getting a bit old so I think it’s time to replace it. I don’t know what brand I’ll go for though. To those scoffing currently, yes, it is a big decision.

We went out for a bit in the evening for a couple of drinks. Turned out Tim was at the same place as us but was with his family so didn’t speak to us. There must have been something going on as we were charged cover on the door. All we could see was a pretty dodgy DJ. You know the type. Fat, sweaty, mixes the songs in his bedroom.


Saturday 30th November

Woke up to what can only be described as a downpour. Serious rain. I wasn’t sure what would happen with cricket because if it stopped early it would be warm enough to dry out. 

It didn’t stop until about 1500 though, so we were called off. That means it will be a one day game next week. I’m not sure I’m happy with that, as I was hoping for the chance to bat all day.

Mick, who was going to take me to cricket, took me to meet Wal, Zac Pacey (Second grade skipper) and Jordan Buckley (Second Grade veteran) at the Newmarket hotel. We all ate the same thing: Chicken Parmigiana. This is a staple in Aussie pubs (and highly recommended) but I’d never seen it before I got out here. 

I spent the rest of the day moping a bit wishing we had been able to play cricket, combined with doing another one off weekend leaflet delivery. How much fun is that!? Stop me, I'm getting giddy.

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