S.N. Don's blog

My Take on The Ashes

Jim Laker once said that the purpose of the England cricket team was mainly to be Australia. This epitomises what The Ashes is about. Having lived and worked in Melbourne, I have first hand knowledge of the Victorian's love of sport and especially those wearing the baggy green. I recall a chat I had one evening in the bar with a local called Harold. It went along these lines:

Harold: I ******* hate the Barmy Army and I also hate the England cricket team.

Me: Much that I love living and working here, I really despise those ******** wearing the baggy green. There is absolutely no way that I want them to do well in any format of the game. I just can't do it.

Harold: But You're alright mate.

Me: Good. So are you. Let's have a beer!

And that's the way it should be. No animosity and definitely nothing personal.

I guess my earliest memory of The Ashes was the 1975 series and the digging up of the pitch at Headingley by protestors claiming the innicence of a certain George Davis. I don't remember much about the series but Boycott exiled himself (to avoid the likelihod of facing Lillee and Thomson) and the bespectacled David Steele started a surprising test career.

I guess my next memory was the wonderful series of 1977 which saw the appearance of the likes of Botham, Gower, Randall and Brearley. Boycott returned and there was the hullabaloo of his hundredth first class hundred at Headingley. The standout for me though was the fielding on both sides of the wicket with Gower and randall beiing particularly effective. randall's running out of McCosker was sheer brilliance. And then came Packer!

The Australians love to talk about the spirit of the game when they are doing well and winning. But during their recent period of world dominance they still had this thing about not walking until the umpire gave them out. Cue Botham in the 86/87 series telling the entire England squad that they were not to "walk" under any circumstances or he would deal with them on their return to the hutch. The same series where the erstwhile lead cricket writer for the Daily Telegraph reported that England only had three areas of weakness in the build up to the series; they can't bat, can't bowl and can't field! He later responded with "Right quote, wrong team"!

To think that we had to go 18 years before another series win and even further to win a series down under in 2010/11. Aside from that Mitchell Johnson song, my particular favourite from that tour has to be the dismissal of Australia for 99 runs at the MCG on Boxing Day. My one sojourn to the G for a test match was the Boxing Day Test in 2012 where Sri lanka were supposed to be playing but, in truth, were shocking. Only Kumar Sangakkara showed any sort of application during an extremely poor display of test match batting. Three successive back foot off-drives for boundaries underlining the man's talent.

This time around we have been hampered by unprofessional behaviour. Whether the loss will hurt us is to be seen. One thing for certain though is that we cannot afford any sort of capitulation in the first test at Woolloongabba. And please, no repeat of the 2006/07 series when I stayed up through all the waffle on TV only for Steve Harmison to bowl that wide.

All I need now is an understanding boss who will permit the odd lie-in and copious amounts of fresh, black coffee!

S.N. Don

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