Dmitri’s Ashes Memories – Perth 2006

It seems somewhat apt to return to posting with a low moment. I’m returning to an era where we were getting our 2005 win rammed back down our throats by a hostile foe, for a time where I felt low about the game, but for different reasons to those now. It’s ironic that I probably feel more low now than I did back then as England are on top. It’s not about the winning and losing, it’s about the fans sticking together, and on that fateful tour of 2006/7, I never saw fan division. We supported the team, no question.

This was not only support against a juggernaut team, it was against a Cricket Australia organisation that made it desperately hard for English supporters to get tickets. It was support an erstwhile disinterested Australian public, who couldn’t give a stuff for the Ashes in 2002/3 when I was out there, but were now making sure the games were played in a hostile atmosphere. It really wasn’t pleasant. It was a lot like football. I’m not sure it was for the best, really, but who am I to say?

Absolute Nonsense With The Old Jos....
Absolute Nonsense With The Old Jos….

At least at that time we got abuse from the opposition fans. I’m a lad from working class roots, born into a council estate in SE London, moving to another one where I still live after 36 years in the same house, and never that well off that money was no object, but able to do some really good things when the economy and the relative purchasing power of my wages allowed. No-one from my family had ever done this sort of thing. Never gone to Australia. I absolutely thanked my lucky stars at how I’d been able to do this. It is something I never took for granted. You know, it’s why the somewhat silly barbs about being anti-England and not a cricket fan actually do hurt. You have got to me effing kidding me.

The only Ashes century Alastair Cook has made outside of 2010-11. He worked incredibly hard for it.
The only Ashes century Alastair Cook has made outside of 2010-11. He worked incredibly hard for it. You know who applauds.

I only turn on people who turn on me, and I have always been one that recognises that other people have different views. Back in 2006, there was a clamour for Monty Panesar which although not of the modern level for another player, was firm enough. This time, though, it was the media leading the charge. It was the dog days of Duncan Fletcher and he wasn’t for picking him if Giles was fit. He got all sorts….

I was ambivalent. I’d had a disastrous time in Adelaide, and I was in pieces. Confidence shot. Holiday proving to be a trial. The cricket depressing.

Flickers on Day 5 - They wouldn't last
Flickers on Day 5 – They wouldn’t last

I’ve always got the Adelaide test up my sleeve for a piece, but the one thing I do recall about Perth is our hopeless optimism. On Day 4, with England up against it, Ian Bell and Alastair Cook gave us hope that we might get out the mess we were in. KP was in decent nick, and had a 90-odd, a 158 and a first innings 50 under his belt, and with Flintoff and Jones following behind we had a sniff of getting out of the game. It was ridiculous optimism. But when we were three down, there still remained a little hope, and that’s when Perth announced the prices of fifth day tickets. The man we call Reg went round to the ticket office to get them, and we still tried to believe that there was a shot. Cook got to a hundred, a horrible knock, hopelessly out of nick, but absolutely an example of temperament and courage. Yes, the iron rod, the steely core. But this was Perth. This was heat. Towards the end of the day his concentration wilted, and a combination of that and the new ball did for him. Hoggy came out as a nightwatchman. Brett Lee, fielding in front of us, where there was a large corps of England support, mocked us “Where’s your skipper now, boys? Hiding is he? Scared?” Hoggy lasted no time….

It didn't go well
It didn’t go well

As the day drew to quite a cloudy close, we wandered back to our apartment block, about half a mile from the WACA and thought we were quite mad to have bought the tickets. Our flight out of Perth Airport was for 1:30 a.m after the 5th day, and we had to pack our bags and go to Scarborough for our last night in Australia that evening. We wondered what precisely we were doing going up there, and then back down again for the last day.

But we did, because we thought we needed to be there for the team. Well, I did. However that didn’t last. Flintoff and KP saw off the early attacks and both made half centuries, but once Freddie went, and then Jones for a pair in his last ever test, the tail failed to wag. One wicket left at lunch, we thought there were better things to do than watch the Aussie apply the coup de grace, and went for a beer somewhere in the Perth city centre. We heard the winning wicket on the radio. We were spent.

Time to leave....
Time to leave…. Gilchrist starts out on his record-setting century. We’d seen enough.

That trip was an emotional experience for me, and I’m going to go into more depth when I do Adelaide as to why. After Adelaide we flew out the morning after (the infamous flight where Pringle sat two rows behind me), and headed down to Augusta on the far South West coast of Australia. It was gorgeous. We then spent a few days in Margaret River, did a bit of winery stuff, had a few beets, watched some football on the TV, and then headed to Fremantle, where four of us squeezed into a bijou apartment and we couldn’t wait to get out of it. Then we went up to Perth the day before the game, but still caught a train on one evening for a night out in Fremantle!

I’d also met up with a Millwall friend, Jim, who now lives out there, but had generously popped round to my brother’s house in London to pick up a credit card (after I’d had all mine nicked in Adelaide), and bring it out to me. I met him for a drink in Subiaco, whereupon I promptly left the card and the new wallet in the pub we were in. Thankfully, I realised, and some lovely honest people had handed it in to the bar-staff and a second disaster was averted. I was in an absolute state by this time, an emotional and unsure wreck (both my parents had died in the preceding 18 months).

England were obviously 2-0 down going into Perth, and the Adelaide scars were raw. There had been a lot of comment in the England fans area at Adelaide about Duncan’s stubborness over Monty Panesar, and the poor performance, and then sad news around Ashley Giles, had meant his inclusion was a certainty. Saj Mahmood also came into the team, a player, I have to say, I really rated (cracking judge, me). Perth underwhelmed me as a ground – I don’t know what I expected – but it was a decent atmosphere and they had put in extra seats.

The WACA - pre-game
The WACA – pre-game

England had a good first day, and Monty made an immediate impact. Sadly, as was to be the case frequently in his Ashes career, Mike Hussey was a royal PIA. He saved the innings and took Australia from real strife to mediocrity. Monty claimed five-for, and Englan fans started to believe again. Maybe we could be competitive and make a real fist of this. After all, we’d fought hard in both the previous test matches, hadn’t we? At times…

Despite bowling the Australians out for 244, there was a sense of foreboding. Had England got that last day collapse at Adelaide out of their minds. Well, Cook got out cheaply, and Bell followed for a duck, and 51/2 wasn’t a firm base for us to launch. It looked even less firm when Collingwood went very early on day 3, and although Pietersen steadied the ship at #5 (people started to comment he should go up one, despite Colly making a fine fist of number 4 until then), Strauss also went to a dodgy old caught behind. No-one stayed with Pietersen, who got increasingly desperate towards the end of his knock and was ninth out for 70 with 175 on the board. There was a knockabout last wicket stand of 40, but the sense of fear was such that you thought “jeez, it looks easy for them, what are Aussie going to do!.

With a lead of just 29, England probably tasted parity when Langer went first ball of the second innings, and I took one of my best ever pics….

Perfect Timing
Perfect Timing

It never lasted. Ponting and Hayden steadied the ship, and by the close Australia were 119 for 1 and the Ashes felt gone. The third day, a Saturday was not one I saw a lot of. It was 40 odd degrees plus, and Sir Peter and I did a bit of early morning Christmas shopping to take home, and turned up after lunch. We saw England open that morning with KP. It was desperate. Panesar couldn’t weave his magic. We turned up after Ponting and Hayden had gone, and we fried. I mean we absolutely fried. Hussey made a century, Michael Clarke did too, and then, memorably, did Adam Gilchrist. We were so hot, being belted around so much, that we left with Gilchrist in the early stages of that knock. Beaten, and depressed, we stomped back, hearing cheers for every boundary, sensing something. I remember saying to Sir Peter as we left the ground “this is the sort of situation that Gilchrist could go off and do something mental.”  We sw him get to his ton back at our apartment. I’d changed to go for a swim, and cheered Hoggy’s very wide, but not called, ball that denied Gilchrist the chance to equal the record held by Viv.

The water was lovely.

Of course, Strauss immediately got an absolute shocker of a decision once the Aussies had declared, so there was nothing to it but to head out for a nice meal in Northridge, and a serious session in the Brass Monkey. I pick up Day 4 above…..

What did Perth mean to me? It was the end of an era. I’ve never seen England away again, and never likely to, if truth be told. It was a holiday that I can’t look back on and say it was the greatest ever, but I learned a lot about myself and my inabilities and weaknesses. I’d say that the world was vastly different then, and the cricket world was too. I think it is interesting to contrast how much fire was aimed at Duncan Fletcher after that tour and not the players, and especially the captain, who let him down (in my view). There was much focus on his stubborn approach to Panesar, but in an interesting read across to the recent 5-0, the players quitting the tour through injury or lack of form weren’t to play again at all. The captain never skippered England again. KP batted well, as did Colly at times, but Bell was Bell.  In his second innings knock at Perth, he was pure Ian Bell. He looked superb, then played a loose drive and got out. He flattered to deceive.

But the fans never turned on the team, and they never turned on each other. It’s a different world. Some say the likes of me are to blame. We created the divide. We are the reason. But stop for a minute and just think. Please. Just think. We had incredible trouble getting tickets for the games we went to, but we got them. This was an expensive trip to watch a team collapse, but we wouldn’t have missed it for the world. This was a team that fell apart, but we stuck with it, when the media were throwing missiles at the coach. I haven’t changed as a cricket fan, so maybe something else has.

Monty - The saviour that wasn't, really.....
Monty – The saviour that wasn’t, really…..

For a test that I don’t relive that much, it’s quite an important one in my cricketing life. I was sort of there when the Ashes were clinched. I’d seen 40% of a whitewash on my travels, and seen a team collapse in the heat – that third day was brutal. I had a ton of admiration at the time for Cook, as he battled so hard for his hundred, and yet now I view him in a much different vein. It’s my last day touring. But at that time, I loved the sport unconditionally. It had me. Now, I feel it’s pushing me away. The media turning on fans for the past 18 months. The fans turning on the fans (I genuinely believe I only retaliated when attacked – others may differ). It’s not England cricket as I remember it. It’s a sad look back, to a sad test, and a sad outcome.

Oh, and I did this. Count the chins…..

Too much sun....
Too much sun….

Hope you enjoyed the above. I am feeling rather cheesed off, and hope that writing the memory stuff works for you lot, and gets me back. It’s been a rollercoaster. Feeling up, and then down. Angry tweets, repentant deletions. I am fed up feeling I need to justify myself, when I got to do things like this. I’m not special. I’m just a bloody ordinary cricket fan, who writes a blog. Some may not like what I write, some may be envious of the traction it got, some may call me a broken record. But it’s mine (and TLG’s).

Have a good night.

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29 thoughts on “Dmitri’s Ashes Memories – Perth 2006

  1. Pontiac Aug 16, 2015 / 1:49 am

    It’s always worth maintaining your own personal integrity, even if that means getting crosswise with people who are in control of something that you rightly identify strongly with. Sometimes being loyal requires what looks like disloyalty to those who are uncharitable or ill informed or both. And there’s a lot of wilflul uncharitablility and lack of information and so on. And some people engage in what is at issue at a much more superficial level than you and most of your readers.

    I’ve just voluntarily walked away from a job I’ve had for over a decade — counting previous involvement an organization I’ve been involved in for about half my life. This will likely show up in your IP address logs! Sometimes one has to say, ok, I’ve stayed in the same place ethically and so have a lot of people involved in the whole enterprise, but to the extent the leadership hasn’t, a decision is required. Many will question your credentials but as you’ve illustrated recently, they’re as good as anyone’s can be. And remaining engaged is a credential itself.

    So, I think everything you’re doing here is coming from a position of integrity and the extent to which you’re angry about things is motivated to a great extent by sorrow at the behavior of people who you’d normally want to respect, and who really should know better. And you’ve thought things through, and honestly seek the truth, and in the long term although nobody can tell what the outcome of any struggle will be, an honest struggle justifies itself.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Danno Aug 16, 2015 / 2:14 am

    I’m not on twitter so cannot see the shit flying around. Just to let you know that the friendship we 4 guys shared on that holiday made up for the disappointment of the cricket many times over. It’s 3 weeks I’ll never forget.

    Like

  3. metatone Aug 16, 2015 / 7:14 am

    At the beginning of my cricketing life, we were competitive.
    We beat Aus in 81 and did well up until 89. We also played decently against the WI – who were the best team at the time. A good time to watch cricket.

    Then came the 90s. Ugly losses to Aus – and we got worse and worse against other teams.
    I stuck with the team, through thin times. Lots was wrong, with the TCCB and selectors and the player pool. It was ugly being hapless.

    Then, after the depths, the Fletcher era. Lots to enjoy here – and culminating in 2005.

    2006 was an ugly landing with a bump.
    Back to hapless – not competitive at all…

    Like

  4. alan Aug 16, 2015 / 8:57 am

    A great read Dmitri. So evocative I could almost feel I was there with you! Your love for cricket can never be doubted by anyone with any real feeling for the game. As the saying goes, ‘don’t let the bastards grind you down’

    Like

    • BoerInAustria Aug 16, 2015 / 9:33 am

      Agree

      Like

  5. Mark Aug 16, 2015 / 9:20 am

    No CWOTV today. We are back with Sunday Supplement. Where according to Sky’s information button on my remote…..”Four of Fleet streets most respected sports journalists will be in the studio to sift through the big talking points.”

    Which translated into English means they blow smoke up the top 4.

    I see Oliver Holt has managed to have shave today. I guess now he works for The Daily Mail he has to smarten up his appearance. He’s gone for the Tory leader look of suit with no tie, and unbuttoned shirt. They are supposed to be talking about Sunderland but he has managed to get onto the love of his life Man Utd.

    Who’s this other pillock? Looks like he should be working at car phone warehouse.

    Like

  6. Mark Aug 16, 2015 / 9:34 am

    Oh shit there is a CWOTV at 10.30

    It’s going to be s smug fest. With Selvey and Newman. Lawrence Booth will be trying to offer some journalistic integrity as a contrast to two ECB arsewipes.

    I won’t be watching.

    Like

    • SimonH Aug 16, 2015 / 10:09 am

      I’m giving it a miss.

      I think Pringle may have been on last week. Sadly, I missed that.

      Like

    • Arron Wright Aug 16, 2015 / 11:52 am

      Neil Harris decided to have a pop at “the BOC gang” regarding our response to the appearance of two obvious ECB stooges on the panel.

      He professes to be interested in the issues raised by DOAG, yet I can’t find him having a pop at two obvious appeasers.

      How very strange.

      Like

      • LordCanisLupus Aug 16, 2015 / 11:57 am

        Probably cheesed off that we pretty much all ignored his nonsense the other day.

        He threw anti-England at me. I won’t forget that in a hurry. Read this post and read the upcoming one on the Adelaide tests I’ve been to. Read the one about going to Brisbane. Read the one about Lord’s 2005. Of all the things I’ve been called, that’s the one with least foundation. The pure arrogance of that comment. I’ve never had a go at them for their views – if I did I made a mistake. I challenged them when they had a go at me or TFT. Yes, of course I’ve had a go at Nash. I’m not who she is, and I don’t like “her methods”.

        Like

      • Ian Aug 16, 2015 / 12:33 pm

        He is just a massive attention seeker. I appreciate by writing this he is getting some of what he wants.

        Like

      • Mark Aug 16, 2015 / 12:49 pm

        He is a concern troll.

        Also he has this rather bizare modern notion of what a fan should be. In essence some one who just parrots meaningless platitudes like……. “get behind the team.” In this dystopian universe no criticsm is tolerated. Instead fans are only required to behave lemming like, and march, in lock step with the owners over the cliff.

        It’s not what being a fan is at all. It’s in fact just a variation of a customer, who continues purchasing the product until they lose interest and then goes somewhere else. The notion of fans as customers is exactly what the Cricket administrators and every other oligarch who owns a football team requires. …”shut up and consume.”

        Like

        • LordCanisLupus Aug 17, 2015 / 11:03 am

          I responded. For better or worse. Getting sick of his nonsense.

          Like

      • Arron Wright Aug 17, 2015 / 1:42 pm

        Just not worth it, in case you needed further proof, you bloody attention-seeker with your spontaneous growth of interest, your catering for a market woefully ill-served by mainstream writers and your coverage in Wisden.

        Like

        • LordCanisLupus Aug 17, 2015 / 3:08 pm

          He’s referenced me once. If you don’t include the reference above and the one yesterday and the chats he has on twitter (where he inferred I was anti-England).

          I’m an attention seeker who built up a blog and shut it down. Who uses a pseudonym and doesn’t want publicity. Who asked Lawrence Booth to remove my blog from that article. Yeah. I’m not that good at that attention lark.

          He’s boiling my piss. He probably loves it. At the end of the day I have this. I have excellent writers both on the blog and the comments. I just need attention now.

          Like

  7. Ian Aug 16, 2015 / 9:48 am

    Where I work we have the sports channels to help us do our jobs. Just as Allot had introduced the three on today the feed seems to have gone. Hopefully the person fixing it will get it back on just as it finishes.

    Like

  8. Mark Aug 16, 2015 / 9:51 am

    That’s a bit of luck Ian!
    perhaps they self combusted up their own backsides?

    Like

  9. Ian Aug 16, 2015 / 10:14 am

    Boo it’s back!

    Great post, Myself at that time in my life I too had a good amount of disposable cash, thanks to plentiful overtime and no bills bar some cheap lodgings so could have gone out but didn’t have anyone to go with or the confidence to go on my own. Until 2010 I just went to games on my own 90% of the time and I guess generally didn’t know what a lot of other fans thought about the cricketing issues of the day. Thanks to twitter I made a lot of friends and means I have often someone to go to games with and if not tweeting other people whilst at the game is great. The downside to this of course is there plenty of people out there who I don’t get on with and avoid. You are right it is very different now but not everything has changed for the worse.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Ian Aug 16, 2015 / 10:19 am

    All of them pretending to be experts on womens cricket. Selfey saying they shouldn’t play tests because they haven’t played many before. Allott suggesting they make the pitch smaller is easily the stupidest thing I have ever heard on CWOTV (There is pretty strong competition)

    Liked by 1 person

    • LordCanisLupus Aug 16, 2015 / 10:24 am

      That was “little ladies” speak if ever I heard it. But this is no surprise.

      Newman is a joke. Selfey is a bore. Booth…what are you doing there?

      Like

      • Mark Aug 16, 2015 / 11:43 am

        It sounds as if those clowns knowledge on woman’s cricket is similar to their knowledge about the ICC.

        It’s deeply embarrassing for the sport that these two jokers are regarded as the cream. Their Whole ludicrous anyalsis is based on two English pitches that seamed about like crazy and the worst Australian batting line up for a hundred years.

        Liked by 1 person

      • d'Arthez Aug 16, 2015 / 11:56 am

        I am waiting for these luminaries to argue that this Northants second string XI is the second best side in the world, only bowing for the might of England as a whole.

        87/5, with only Clarke and Rogers sitting out (to give game time to Shaun Marsh, and another opportunity to Watson. Highest score in the innings thus far 25* by Mitchell Marsh.

        Like

      • Ian Aug 18, 2015 / 10:29 am

        Skysports news are actually running one of their viewer polls asking if the pitch should be made smaller for women’s cricket.

        Like

        • LordCanisLupus Aug 18, 2015 / 10:30 am

          It’s ridiculous. Absolutely ridiculous. We lose a test and the male media act like tits.

          Like

    • Zephirine Aug 16, 2015 / 12:21 pm

      The England women’s captain has played 23 Tests, how many did Mike Selvey play?

      Like

  11. Ian Aug 16, 2015 / 10:41 am

    Laurence Booth anecdote: I once was offered free tickets to the test in Colombo by Laurence Booth. I got to the meeting place at the agreed time to find that he had given them to someone else!

    Like

  12. man in a barrel Aug 16, 2015 / 11:03 pm

    Great post D. Evocative, personal and meaningful. My current friend laughs at my howls of delight when Cooky gets out for not very much yet again. Neil Harris should tell us how Gilesy tastes.

    Like

  13. man in a barrel Aug 16, 2015 / 11:05 pm

    NH even had a problem with the sacking of the very great Moores.

    Like

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