Ashes First Test Review – Day 4

The day began with England 26 runs ahead but two wickets down, and the start was promising as Hazlewood and Starc didn’t seem as threatening as they had the day before. The ball was a little older, the deliveries a bit slower, and although Stoneman and Root had some nervous moments they seemed relatively comfortable.

When Nathan Lyon came in to bowl, it was a different story. The left-handed opener Stoneman in particular had problems facing him, and on Lyon’s third over of the day Stoneman edged one to Steve Smith at slip. Dawid Malan, another left-hander, didn’t seem much more comfortable playing the offspinner, and whilst Malan blocked out a few overs he fell to a similar dismissal soon after.

This brought together Joe Root and England’s #6 Moeen Ali, and for a while things looked rosy for England. Both batsmen were positive, they rotated the strike well and caused Australia no end of problems. Both handled Lyon relatively comfortably too, with Moeen moving his feet and forcing the bowler to vary his lines and lengths. Root coasted to his first fifty of the series, but the very next ball he was given out LBW to a quick seamer from Hazlewood. The manner of his dismissal will worry England, as he was out in a similar fashion in the first innings.

When Bairstow came to the crease, the scoring continued at a high rate and England fans might have entertained the hope that their team could create a lead in excess of 250. Of course true England fans know well the dangers of such hope, and Moeen Ali demonstrated this when he played inside the line of a Lyon offspinner only to get stumped. It was an incredibly tight decision which went to the third umpire, and the TV pictures seemed to suggest that the line had been painted in a particularly haphazard way, but at the end of the day the fault lies with Moeen rather than the groundsman.

With Moeen Ali gone, the scoring stalled again as Bairstow played more defensively and Woakes struggled to pierce the field. They managed to put together a partnership of 30 before Woakes edged a Starc bouncer to second slip, which triggered the second collapse for England’s lower order in the game. Within 3 overs the last 3 wickets fell, and the tourists had set Australia a modest target of 170. Bairstow’s dismissal in particular was disappointing, as the shot seemed more like catching practice than a scoring opportunity.

Australian openers started slowly and patiently, seeing off Anderson and Broad with the new ball. Once they were facing the other three bowlers, they really started accelerating to the point that it seemed possible they might reach their target today. Moeen Ali in particular was expensive, with Australia scoring 23 off his 4 overs.

It was at this point that I decided to go to sleep, as an inevitable march to a low total really isn’t interesting enough to hold my attention at 6.30am. At least the previous 3 days had some balance and competition. A quick look at Cricinfo’s ball-by-ball suggests I didn’t miss any action. No wickets, no drops, no DRS appeals, nothing to suggest that England even made a pretense of competing.

At the close of play Australia ended on 114/0, needing another 56 runs to win. If you are a colossal optimist, which basically just means Sri. Grins at this point, England need to take 10 wickets. Or they’d certainly settle for a rainstorm to come out of nowhere. It seems likely that the game will be over by 1am, which will at least help get my sleeping back on a regular schedule.

After play ended, there were reports coming from Australia’s Fox Sports that Jonny Bairstow might have been involved in an incident with Cameron Bancroft at a Perth nightclub. Recalling both Dave Warner in 2013 as well as Ben Stokes, you’ve got to wonder why cricketers go to nightclubs at all.

Comments are welcome below, unless they’re potentially libellous about players fighting in nightclubs in which case they are very much not welcome.


Ashes First Test Review – Day 3

The day started with Steve Smith and Shaun Marsh continuing their form from the previous day. After a couple of loose overs to begin both Broad and Anderson managed to build some pressure with consecutive maidens, and on Broad’s third over of the day he managed to draw Marsh into playing a drive on the up from a slower ball. Anderson at mid off caught the looping ball, and England were off to a great start.

After Tim Paine came in, England settled down into a routine to bowl out the 12 remaining overs to the new ball. Jake Ball bowled bouncers outside off the Steve Smith whilst Moeen Ali bowled from the other end to rest the other bowlers in advance of the new ball. It worked to a point, restraining Australia’s strike rate when they might otherwise have been looking to cash in, but didn’t generate any clear chances. One bouncer did cause Smith some discomfort, hitting the shoulder of the bat, but it fell well short of England’s fielders in the ring.

Anderson made a breakthrough in the first over with the new Kookaburra, Tim Paine edging a quick outswinger to Bairstow. This wicket brought Mitchell Starc in, and England sensed the chance to run through the Aussie tail with the new ball. Starc raised the crowd’s hopes with a six smashed straight down the ground from Stuart Broad’s first over in the spell, but those hopes were dashed two balls laters as a leading edge floated back down the wicket where Broad caught it. Pat Cummins and Steve Smith safely negotiated the remaining 6 overs to Lunch, where England fans worried about Anderson’s fitness as the bowler ended his bowling after just three overs in the spell whilst holding his left side.

The second session began poorly for England, with Smith and Cummins slowly accumulating runs through the first hour against Ball, Woakes and Moeen. Broad and Anderson returned to bring a bit more control to proceedings, but couldn’t pierce the Australian defences. Eventually Smith reached his century with an off drive against Broad. It took until the end of the session for England to take another wicket, with Cummins eventually edging a ball to Cook at first slip.

The evening session didn’t go much better for England, although Moeen did bowl Hazlewood early in the session. Smith and Lyon kept going, with Smith taking Australia into the lead by guiding a short delivery from Jake Ball for four. It took an hour for England to take the final Australian wicket, with Lyon edging an offspinner from Root to leg slip.

It didn’t get any better for England when they started batting either. Cook fell in the 4th over after top-edging a pull to long leg, which will disappoint him as he has a good reputation against the short ball. Vince nicked one to slip two overs later, reverting back to his more familiar form. A quick bouncer hit Root on the head, breaking a part of his helmet clean off, but he carried on after a quick inspection from England’s team doctor. Root and Stoneman survived the onslaught, and England ended on 33/2 with a lead of 7.

It’s notable how much better the Australian tail played compared to England’s, especially since that is supposed to be a strength of the tourists. Of course Australia was helped by the fact that they had Smith batting through the innings, but Australia added 153 for their last five wickets whilst England’s tail only managed 56. A lot of that seems to be not a weakness in England’s batting but in their bowling. Australia’s bowlers were able to successfully bounce out England’s tail, or Lyon confused them with his spin. England’s bowlers seemed unable to reliably trouble the Aussies, particularly Ball, Woakes and Moeen.

As always, please comment below. I’m off to bed now!

Ashes First Test Review – Day 2

As the only one of the group to actually watch last night’s play (bloody part-timers), it falls to me to write the review after a few hours sleep. I’m still suffering a bit, so please forgive me if I missed something.

The day began with England on 196/4, and with England hoping to really cash in and keep the Aussie bowlers toiling for most of the day. Those plans seemed to be working through the first hour, as Malan and Moeen looked fairly comfortable at the crease facing the second new ball. There was also an injury scare for Australia as Shaun Marsh ran his spikes across Mitchell Starc’s knee in the field, causing the bowler to leave the field for some treatment and a new pair of  trousers. Starc returned to the field quickly though, as it was just a scratch.

At some point during the hour Australia switched up their tactics and went from bowling full to short as they peppered Dawid Malan and Moeen Ali with bouncers, whilst Lyon targeted the two left-handers from the other end. Neither batsman seemed comfortable with the aggressive bowling, particularly Moeen, but it was Malan who fell to it after top edging a pull from a Mitchell Starc bouncer to deep square leg. It was a disappointing dismissal in some ways as the field was clearly set for that shot, but before the match started I’d have snapped your hand off if you offered me Malan scoring 56.

The very next over, Nathan Lyon dismissed Moeen Ali LBW as the batsman played for spin that wasn’t there. In a matter of minutes, England had gone from two set batsmen at the crease to there been two bits of fresh meat at the crease for the Aussies to attack. Two overs later Lyon bowled Woakes through the gate to a very loose drive, and the familiar England Test collapse was on.

Jonny Bairstow had been pushed down the order to “bat with the tail”, and after having faced only 7 balls for no runs that’s exactly what he was doing. With Broad at the other end and two number 11s to come in, Bairstow took the not unreasonable choice of attacking the Aussie bowlers at every opportunity. Unfortunately for him (and us), he skied a short ball from Cummins and wicketkeeper Paine collected it.

Jake Ball then came in, and actually looked pretty good as he seemed to time the ball better than the other England batsmen. He hit 3 boundaries before glancing a ball from Starc off his hip and straight into the hands of David Warner at second slip. Anderson and Broad added another 13 runs between them before Broad pulled a short ball from Hazlewood to deep square leg, and the innings was over with England finishing on 302.

Australia’s innings began broadly how you’d expect, with the experienced David Warner looking fairly comfortable whilst the debutant Cameron Bancroft looked more hesitant and nervous. The nerves clearly got to him, as Bancroft edged a full Stuart Broad outside the off stump low to the wicketkeeper. This brought in Usman Khawaja, who is considered weak against spin bowling. Joe Root switched to Moeen early, and in just the 11th over, Moeen trapped Khawaja plumb LBW as the Aussie played for spin that wasn’t there.

This dismissal brought Steve Smith to partner David Warner, and this seemed like the most crucial partnership for England to break. The early signs didn’t look good for England, as Smith seemed able to score singles at will and the set Warner looking comfortable facing England’s bowling. If anything Warner became too confident, as he got himself out playing a loose shot to a shortish delivery from Jake Ball straight to Malan at short midwicket. This was a massive blow for Australia, as this partnership had the very real potential to bat England out of the game.

This brought in Peter Handscomb, whose stance deep in the crease caused problems for Anderson and especially Ball as they struggled to bowl the fuller line required to drag him onto the front foot. Anderson did get a few on target though and one got through Handscomb’s defences to hit him on the pads just inches in front of the wicket. The umpire gave it not out, but England reviewed it straight away and it was successful.

This wicket left Australia on the ropes at 76/4, and in real danger of conceding a 100-150 run first innings lead. The next batsman in was Shaun Marsh, who has been dropped more times than a slip chance to Ian Bell and has a Test average of just 36.00. Unfortunately for England, he looked in good form and they seemed to have no answers. Australia were helped by loose bowling which meant that Moeen Ali wasn’t able to concentrate his bowling against the left-handed Marsh.

The other significant factor is that England have not shown the ability to take wickets with the old Kookaburra ball so far in this tour. Even against very inexperienced “Cricket Australia XI” teams, the bowlers couldn’t make frequent breakthroughs. Against the highest rated batsman in the world (and Shaun Marsh), those difficulties seem even more acute. Unless England coax some reverse swing from the ball, they appear to be waiting for the second new ball to actually make some progress in the game.

And so it went that Smith and Marsh batted for 37 overs through the evening session, all the way through to Stumps. England managed to rein the scoring in at least after the Australians started scoring quite quickly early on in the partnership.

The day ended with Australia 165/4. On paper they’d still be considered behind England, especially with their relatively weak tail, but I won’t feel in any way confident until England can get Steve Smith out. He looked in awesome form today, and that will worry England for the series ahead. Apparently Smith averages 95 once he passes 20 runs, so England have to find a way to get him out early several times this series to keep Australia’s talismanic batsman out of the picture. It’s not looking good for that plan so far…

As always, please add your comments below:

All Talk Of Circadian Rhythm

In just a few hours, the time for talking will have come to an end and the time for action will have begun. Until then, boy has there been a lot of talking.

The primary aggressor has been the unlikely figure of Australia’s offspinner Nathan Lyon. He looks like a cross between the least effective person at the office and a weasel, and he is the slowest bowler in the Australian team. Nevertheless, on Monday he declared his hope that Australia would “end the careers” of English batsmen. He also suggested that Australia were trying to get Root out of the side, that Australia’s fast bowlers were the best in the world, and that England have no chance of winning.

This follows Josh Hazlewood talking about Australia trying to “open up a few scars” for the England players who toured in 2013/14. Before that, David Warner said that England should expect “war”, and that he would make himself “hate” them during the series. In all honesty, the build up has been less like a cricket match and more like Wrestlemania.

I suppose that I should be annoyed by this kind of behaviour, but in truth I can understand why they feel the need to do it. This Ashes series is not a clash of the giants. It’s not even a clash of two particularly good teams. Divorced from the historical significance of a small urn and centuries of colonial rivalry, this matchup has very little going for it. Both batting lineups have gaping holes in them and both bowling lineups are good but lacking in depth should anything happen to the starters. And in England’s case, things have already started happening to their starters.

With this in mind, I don’t begrudge the Australians trying to drum up a little interest in the game. Are they using outdated and quite frankly offensive language when doing it? Yes, of course they are. They’re Australian. But the series does need promoting and people are talking about all these ridiculous statements, so mission accomplished I guess?

Looking forward to the actual cricket match tonight, the big question seemed to be about England’s fourth fast bowler. In the warmups, the position was Craig Overton’s to lose. After having managed three consecutive ducks with the bat, and good but not great figures with the ball, he has indeed lost out to Jake Ball. Ball claims to have fully recovered from his ankle injury, although England are certainly not without form when it comes to bringing injured players back prematurely.

On the Australian side of things, Warner and Marsh both have minor injury worries, causing CA to draft Glenn Maxwell in as late cover. I’m sure I speak for all England fans when I wish Shaun Marsh a very speedy recovery.

Which brings me to our big announcement: We at Being Outside Cricket will be running a live blog through the first day’s play. The post will begin around 9.30pm and go through the night as we take turns talking about the game and whatever else comes up. It’s a whole new experience for us, so please join us if you can.

Ashes to Ashes – The Ashes Panel, 1st Test, Part 2


Continued from yesterday, the second set of questions, answered by the Super Seven.

Question Four – What do the Ashes mean to you as a cricket supporter?

MiaB – As a cricket supporter of English nationality, the Ashes are still the major event in the calendar.  But, if you look back, it is interesting how few series there have been where both sides were packed with star quality.  They tend to be rather one-sided – eg 1928, 1948, 1956, 1974 and just about every series between 1986 and 2005.  Most of them have been about ordinary teams with one or two stand-out players – 1970, 1972, 1978, 2010, 2015 particularly come to mind.  The Ashes tends to produce absorbing rather than exciting cricket.

Ian – I try not to think of them as the be all and end all but I just cannot help it.  Ashes series have been constant through my cricket watching life starting in 1989 and so many of my most memorable cricket memories good and bad involve the Ashes.

Scrim – I was born and raised in Adelaide. All my Ashes memories up until I was 19 years old were huge wins for Australia sprinkled with some dead rubber losses. It had been drummed into me that beating England was really all that mattered but I didn’t realise how true this was until that winning feeling was finally taken in 2005. I was there under the scoreboard, Day 5 in 2006, probably about 30m away from Dmitri, when they were as good as won back. That was a day of cricket spectating that will probably never be matched.

I live in Norway now. A beautiful, but cricket-free land. I follow English cricket a bit more given that it matches with my time zone. “Knowing my enemy” a bit better, and being starved of cricket only makes me want it more. My 2 year old alarm clock of a son and I will be watching as much as possible.

Danny – Historically, it was a chance for England to measure themselves against what was almost certainly the best Test team in the world. Now? It’s still the highest profile Test series here, so it’s something I can talk about with people who don’t normally follow cricket. Apart from that, it’s nothing special.

Sri – Good to follow as a person with interest in the game wherever it is played but obviously not critical to me.

Silk – Everything?

And….TheBogfather in rhyme….

Slightly away from the question, as to write my true feelings about the Ashes would take many a while and lines, so here’s more a view of why I love Test Cricket as a whole…

In my dreams…
all cricket is played in creams
no emblazoned added ad
or name and number so sad
just ‘whites’…

On my screen…
test matches reign supreme
a battle of wits and skill
not a formulated drill
five-day delights…

On boundary I’m sat…
watching intrigue ‘tween ball and bat
how I desperately yearn
for pace and turn
not flat-track bullying and all that…

On my mind…
supreme contests of skill and thought
every game within a game
no two, ever the same
mind games and beauty combined…

On the field…
chances taken then some spilled
with boundaries and dot-balls
loud silence then some roars
intensities follow being bestilled…

then it rains, on come the covers
no duckworth-lewis to smother
still time for a result here…
for the brave to advance
with skills true and askance
final over, final ball, we cheer…

a drawn Test, but what a game
The Ashes would never be the same again
If the idiots that rule our game have their way
Never seen again, another edge of seat last day…


Question Five – A brief outline of how you expect the series to go. Who will win? Who will make the runs? Will it be a rout? Fire away.

Silk – There are so many uncertainties. I can genuinely see 5-0 either way. I can imagine a series where Khawaja, Bancroft, Marsh and Paine all average less than 20 with the bat, Woakes and Broad are all over them like a rash, and the Aussies collapse. I can also imagine a series where Khwaja and Handscombe absolutely put England to the sword, alongside Warner and Smith, Anderson shows his age, Woakes proves he can’t cut it, Ball and Coverton are disappointing and Broad, well as he bowls, can’t stem the flow.

I can see England bowling a perfect Australian length and bundling Australia out on day 1 at Brisbane. I can also see England bowling too short, and completely losing it once the shine as gone off the ball. I can see Ali bowling all you can eat run buffet and Joe Root brought on as ‘a partnership breaker’ when Warner is on 191.

Obviously one can imagine Starc and Cummins destroying England in a session, but one can also imagine both going down with knee injuries on the first day, and England winning by an innings.

Ian – I keep switching my mind between an optimistic 3-2 defeat to a pessimistic 5-0 so lets go for 4-1 Australia.   Runs from Warner,Smith and Khawaja.  England’s runs probably won’t be as prolific and could be shared around.  Root might be affected if it isn’t going well and I worry about Bairstow contributing if England are kept in the field for days.

I expect like a lot of tests involving England lately that they won’t be particularly close games.

Danny –  5-0 to Australia, I fear. For England, I expect Root and batsmen 6-8 score the majority of the runs, whilst Cook gets a couple of fifties and everyone else struggles. For Australia, I think Warner, Smith and Khawaja will all average 50+ in the series, as Australia regularly post 350+ scores which England can’t quite match.

Sri – 3-2/3-1 in favor of England. I expect Oz to win in Adelaide and maybe 1 of Perth/Gabba if they win.

MiaB – Two flimsy batting line ups and two injury-prone attacks: it will be about which team stays fit.  If injuries do not intrude, I think Australia will shade it.  However, because these are not sides who are good at attritional cricket, I think each match will have a result.  So, like the last series, I expect 3-2, but this time in favour of Australia.

Scrim – Australia will win. Home conditions and too much bowling firepower, and too many things that have to fall into place at the last minute for England. If Australia win the first two, they’ll win the next three. This is the most confident I’ve felt about an Australian win before a ball has been bowled since 2005. 

Adelaide could be a bit of a shootout. It will be low scoring, and the ball will swing. It is a must win for England if they are to have any hope.

Telling you that Smith will get some runs is like informing you about the Pope’s religion. Apart from Smith, Khawaja looks in good form – close enough to 300 runs at 100 in two low scoring matches at the Gabba in the past couple of weeks. Forget about any weakness vs spin. He’s been a monster on fast pitches for the past few seasons.

TB, Take It Away….

Not expecting a rout but definitely a defeat
3-1 to Aus with one saved by a storm
Frenetic batting mixed with non-moving feet
Inability to take 20 wickets the norm..

Root our top scorer, Cook one score above 50
Mo’ and Bairstow will erratically flow
Woakes with the wickets, Jimmy nulled but thrifty
Broad goes in the fetlock, Crane’s future value grows…


Question Six – Finally, and a specific one for this test, Brisbane…. too much emphasis on it, or a real indicator of the series to come?

Danny –  I think England’s best hope of confounding my expectations and actually winning the series is by somehow winning at Brisbane. Right now the Australian fans and media are largely focussed on the England side (and their own selectors), and that pressure could force England players into making mistakes during the game. If England do manage to beat Australia in the first game, the Aussie press will start attacking their own players and management instead of the poms and that might push them into even worse errors than picking Paine.
In terms of the series, I think the day/night game in Adelaide is probably the more significant one. The pink ball, twilight hours and what will probably be a relatively lush pitch could all potentially help England’s bowlers compensate for their batsmen’s inadequacies. If England leave there with the series 1-1 (or even 2-0 up), they at least have something to play for in Perth beyond survival. As it is, I fear the series will be over before the Boxing Day game in Melbourne.

Scrim – Definitely an indicator. If England are able to get a foothold in the Brisbane test, as they did in 2010, then things will be very interesting. However the last couple of Ashes series have disappointingly been full of thrashings one way or the other and I feel there is a good chance England might be on the wrong end of one here.

MiaB –  It is not the same ‘Gabba so I would not read too much into the result of the first test.

Sri – Too much emphasis. It is a 5  test series and thus a first test loss will not hurt england but a first test draw/loss will hurt Oz.

Silk – Huge, huge test. Huge, huge Test. Good toss to lose, I think. Batting on both sides is brittle. You’d be mad to bowl first at Brisbane, but if the side that does bowl first makes early inroads, I think that could be the series, right there. If either batting lineup fails, and let’s face it, there are huge doubts about both, I think heads could go down. Right now, Australia have more to lose. England are a mess, but Australia have picked 1, 6 & 7 on a hunch and will be under huge pressure if they all fail and bring the rest down with them.

I’ll go out on a limb here and at, at a risk of repeating 2003, Root should bowl first if he gets the chance. Get Bancroft, who failed in County Cricket, early doors and the Aussies will be very nervous indeed. If Marsh is batting before lunch on day 1, I think England will win the series.

Ian – I think Brisbane is vital,  England draw or win then they might just do ok in the series but if the Gabba is a heavy defeat then it will be here we go again and 5-0 might just be inevitable whatever moves England make to try and ensure this isn’t the case.

For the last word, or prose, it’s our main man, the Cricket Laureate, Boggy…

Definitely an indicator of how the series will unfold
Depends on how easily England will fold
A close defeat with confidence intact?
Or a complete humbling, some early bags packed?
We need the old 1, the new 2 and 3
To give us hope up front
Or maybe come May we’ll see
Selfey calling for the recall of some old CNUT…


There you have it. If you like what you see, and want to take part in the Adelaide test panel, leave me a note below or by e-mail, otherwise you seven get the gig again. My thanks for all their efforts, and I don’t know about you lot, but I’m quite up for this.

We’ll be talking about what we intend to do tomorrow night, and also details of a new way of accessing our posts, in the next 24 hours. In the meantime, comments below and remember, these are volunteers, so play nice!


And Another One Gone…

It is now just two weeks until the men’s Ashes begins, and it’s fair to say that things aren’t going to plan for England. In fact, it’s hard to see any realistic scenario in which things could be worse for the tourists.

This morning Jake Ball apparently suffered an ankle strain whilst bowling, the latest bowling casualty before the series even begins. Wood, Roland-Jones and Finn are all unavailable, as of course is Ben Stokes for an entirely different reason. Moeen Ali is expected to be fit in time for the first game, but the way England’s luck is going you’d be a fool to guarantee that.

None of these players are on their own irreplaceable (even Stokes), but having 5 fast bowlers with international experience all missing at the same time would tax any country’s reserves. Tom Curran is already travelling to Australia to replace Finn in the squad, and it seems likely another bowler will be called up to join him. There are no obvious substitutes waiting in the wings for England, who already have three uncapped bowlers in their squad.

Liam Plunkett, perhaps the first thought for most people who follow the England team, has apparently been focussing on playing limited overs cricket this summer. His most recent Test match was against India in 2014, and he only played 2 championship games this season. The only other fast bowler with international experience who might be available is Chris Jordan, but with an average of 32.83 in Division 2 this summer he isn’t knocking the door down.

The more likely alternative is another uncapped bowler. Saqib Mahmood and Tom Helm are the two fast bowlers in the Lions squad which will be touring Australia this winter, but neither has much first class experience to draw on. For all of the candidates, I feel massively underqualified to judge them as I don’t follow county cricket very closely. Whoever is selected, it’s a tough ask for such an inexperienced bowling attack to do well in Australia.

The performance of the current bowling attack today against Cricket Australia XI hardly filled me with optimism about the upcoming series either. After taking 5 wickets in the first 33 overs of the innings, England then seemed unable to dismiss the tail with an older ball. I don’t think it bodes well for when England have to face the full Australian side, although of course Broad was not playing in this game.

All of which doom and gloom leads me to England’s batting. Stoneman, Vince and Malan have all had very good tours so far, but it’s hard to look past their performances this summer when guessing how they will play against Australia. Meanwhile, Cook is currently averaging 8.00 on this tour and Root has been good but not great. With Stokes almost certain to be replaced by a bowler, England have much less margin for error from their specialist batsmen than they have enjoyed in recent times.

One point I noted about England’s batting yesterday was how much trouble they had against Australian legspinner Daniel Fallins in his debut first class game. He finished with figures of 5-73, and if he can manage something similar in the second innings then perhaps Australia might be tempted to call Mitchell Swepson or another legspinner into their squad. England’s failings against spin have been clearly evident in recent years, and Nathan Lyon is no doubt looking forward to facing them.

At least the fielding seems pretty good though. That’s something to hold on to.

As a sidenote, BT Sport have been showing the game against Cricket Australia XI for free on their Facebook page, as well as the women’s Ashes Test on their Youtube channel. Free English cricket is so rare nowadays, please enjoy it while you can.

As always, comments are welcome below. If you can give me some small scrap of hope about England’s chances this winter, that would be especially welcome.

On This Day – 1986

15th November…

We like (well I like) a good anniversary and I thought I’d share this one with you tonight. 30 years ago we saw a brilliant individual performance by Ian Botham. It would be his last test hundred…

England resumed the first test at Brisbane on 198 for 2 against Australia. On the infamous “can’t bat, can’t bowl, can’t field…” tour England were decided second favourites but a very good Day 1 had them believing. However, Day 2 did not get off to an auspicious start. Allan Lamb and Bill Athey, the two overnight batsmen fell, and this brought David Gower and Ian Botham to the crease….

The entire England innings highlights are here…

I may have lost a lot of my regard for Sir Ian in his life as a commentator, but this was pure gold and showed why we were big fans of his playing days.  Merv Hughes was vaunted as a new leader of the attack. Botham put him to the sword. Add to that the mental impact this had on the series. Hell, who knows if the 30th anniversary had a subliminal impact on Australia in Hobart this morning! We also got DeFreitas making 40 on debut, a half century for Gower and England went on to win the match.

Here’s a report by Tony Lewis on the day’s play:


Happy memories of the Gabba, prior to it being turned into a soulless concrete bowl!

14 years ago today Dmitri was in Port Douglas, and England were in Hobart playing Australia A. It was a lovely Friday morning, and we were fresh off our journey to the Barrier Reef the day before (one of my great lifetime experiences) and Sir Peter and I were readying ourselves for a drive up to Cape Tribulation. Before we left we say Martin Love blatantly smack the cover off the ball when on about 7, the bent Aussie umpire had his deaf aid switched off, and Love went on to make 201 not out.

The match reporter showed the usual Aussie disregard for matters trivial..


I’ll be returning to these tours post Christmas, when we have a large void to fill in the run up to the English summer, but any memories you have of 1986, let me have them….

An Ashes Exchange Of Views – Part 2 – Dennis asks, Dmitri Answers


So you’ve read part one….. Now on to the questions set by Dennis of Dennis Does Cricket to me. These are my honest views, and feel free to take them to pieces if you wish!

1) Australia has the Brutal issue of having to squeeze four world class quicks into three spots. Who are the lucky three and why? 

England fans cannot believe you won’t pick Ryan Harris. He appears to have achieved that status reserved for a few Australians, in that I get the sense he’s really liked! I think we all love to see a bowler who suffers for his craft. That said, England have had enough experience of relying on old crocks with injury issues to know you should always go with the younger fitter model (I recall 2002/3 all too well, waiting on Gough and Flintoff) so unless Hazlewood gets monstered in the early tour matches, you should go with what you had in the West Indies. So it’s Johnson, Starc and Hazlewood, and Harris and Siddle up your sleeve. Of dear lordy.

2) Fawad Ahmed and Nathan Lyon lead the Shield wicket taking table last summer. Should the leg spinner be used in tandem with Nathan Lyon at any of the grounds? What about instead of Lyon?

My blog has Nathan Lyon’s number 1 fan (outside Australia) so I’m not ever suggesting he should not play. Nathan Lyon is a bloody good bowler, and the problem is that when you’ve had superstar spinners in your team, you always shoot for the moon (something we should remember now Lovejoy* isn’t in our team). Fawad Ahmed is an interesting wildcard, but none of the venues we are playing at are going to be raging Bunsens because we don’t have Swann any more. I think our allergy to leg-spin is overplayed a bit, but also the other reason for playing them – that they are great at getting tailenders out – is our problem rather than yours. You seem to take great pleasure in a 90mph left armer coming in to the lower order players and smashing them out. I don’t think there will be any “two spinners” wickets and I cannot see you dropping the lead singer in the Under the Southern Cross ensemble.

*Swann is called Lovejoy on here because of his remarkable similarity in personality to a much loved, sorry much loathed, football geezer of the 90s, called Tim Lovejoy. It’s a running joke.
3) How should Australia attempt to reduce the influence of Joe Root? 

I put the same question to you! We’re all going a bit mad about Joe Root, and why not? He has this knack of making big hundreds now, so once he’s in, and past the century mark, he’s not satisfied. The drop down to number 5 has been huge, but it also left a major hole we’ve not filled yet at opener. I’m a little disappointed, to be honest, because I’ve always felt 5 is the armchair position in the batting line-up; you’re not likely to be up against the new ball with fresh bowlers, and you get time before the marshalling of the tail (which Root is good at).

I think Root has the same sort of weaknesses as many other player, i.e. good bowlers, bowling well. Also, Australia will play on the mental side of things. He was dropped in the last series. He also, one innings apart, didn’t cut it as an opener in 2013. He has “mental scars”. We’re comparing him a lot to Steve Smith and I see much the same sort of characteristics in the two players. If they get in, watch out.

4) What tactics by Australia will cause the biggest headaches for the captaincy of Alastair Cook?

What was it Ricky Ponting said about the 2005 series? “Win the first test and let the British press do the rest”. That worked. 🙂 It needs something more tangible than that. He had a point at the time, though.

The one thing that 2014 and the fall-out from the whitewash proved is that Cook is, at the moment, unsackable. I’m aware not everyone agrees with me on that, but look how long we held on to him as ODI skipper against all the evidence. Now he’s scoring some runs again, he’s the saviour returned. He’s leading from the front. We can forgive his tactical abominations. The world has changed in 10 years – the press were complicit in the retaining of Cook – and now the British press are more likely to rally around a losing captain than bury him.

Cook’s series depends on him scoring runs. You’d think, by the way ECB-TV goes on, he’s only ever played one Ashes series, because every time he needed bolstering, the 2010/11 series is mentioned. If the Aussies pray on that off stump weakness, don’t feed his outlet shots, and bowl him to a standstill, he’s not going to hurt you. Whether the public will turn on him, I don’t know. The one side effect of this New Zealand ODI series is that without our behemoths, the new team looks like it is enjoying itself and playing like it. How much that attitude seeps through if we lose early will be interesting. If Cook is scoring runs and we are losing, the press over here might blow a gasket. 

5) Should Shane Watson’s position at 6 be in question?

Do you have anyone better? I’m a believer that if you don’t perform, you shouldn’t have a divine right to play – see Alastair Cook, 2014, see Ian Bell 2015 – but also that if he’s the best player and isn’t letting the side down, for his role, you can lose a lot of ground trying to find someone better. His last test here saw him make his career best, he’s used to the role, and although we laugh about his LBW review skills, he still appears a formidable presence even if he probably doesn’t back it up with stats. His bowling is also really useful for the team as he does perform an important role for Clarke.

Put it this way – if he’s one of your best players, you’re in trouble. If he’s one of your worst players, we’re in trouble. 

6) Will this be Clarke’s final Test series? If so, is Smith ready to fill his shoes? 

You’ll know that better than I, but the mood music appears to suggest Clarke’s coming to the end of the road, and it’s another couple of years before we go out to Australia to get smashed again. He’s won the World Cup, he’ll have another Ashes win in all probability so why not go out on top? I’m not sure what drives him these days.

I don’t really have a feel for Smith’s captaincy, and part of me thinks it is a little too soon. You have a tendency to not play retired captains, and he is just 26. If Australia will stick with him for 8 years even if the results turn for the worse then fine. I don’t think the captaincy has such a corrosive effect on Australian captains than it seems to on English ones in terms of batting form.

You can’t fail to be impressed by his attitude, his mental strength and his results. Wind back to our commentary teams (and yes, me) in 2010/11 when we laughed at his selection! Eating humble pie now.

7) The last Ashes series in the UK saw Australia constantly at 5/150 and requiring Haddin to save the day with the bat. Is this likely to happen again? 

Our propensity to go spectacularly off the rails when it comes to lower order batsmen is gaining legendary status. I have genuine fear that this will be a major difference in the two teams. We are simply not good at blowing away the tail. We don’t have express pace, not really, and we don’t have a spin bowler on form who can tease them out. If you want Exhibit A of this monumental inability, we refer to Day 4 at Headingley – this year it was at New Zealand tailenders, last year it was Angelo Mathews and Rangana Herath. We were pitiful. Haddin was a key last time, but he also, often got a lower order player to stay with him once the top order man he was with got out. It takes two to make partnerships.

So the ball goes into Brad Haddin’s court. Is he the same player as 18 months ago or are there now too many miles on the clock? Are the manner of his dismissals the sign of the twilight of a career? Was the 2013/14 series just a freak?

Frankly, I don’t think you’ll be 150/5 (this is an England piece, so not putting the numbers the wrong way around) very often. I think we’ll make pitches to make it a batting contest, and not feed your strengths. It’s why I fear what David Warner might do.

8) Haddin is averaging less with the bat that Nathan Lyon over the last 12 Test matches. Should Australia be worried about this, given his keeping is at the top its game? 

As long as he’s not keeping a Gilchrist-like figure out of the team, and he’s not a total liability with the bat, then fine. To turn the debate around, we brought Prior back into the test team last summer (with a tear in his achilles that turned out to be career-ending) and held back Jos Buttler. We all thought it was madness at the time, and were proved right. Prior wasn’t the same batsman, and was as mobile as a wheelie-bin behind the stumps. Who is backing up Haddin these days (hastily checks tour squad)? Peter Nevill, it seems, who is 29 and not exactly a young gun, but appears to have been picked on a good batting season for New South Wales.

If Haddin gets blown away early in the series, I’d be interested to see if any pressure is exerted from your press.

9) How should Australia play Anderson? Attack or defence? 

You seemed to have little trouble with him last time out. In fact there’s a school of thought that his tour de force at Trent Bridge in 2013 marked the high-water point for James, and it’s been a lot, lot tougher since. If Anderson isn’t taking wickets, we’re in trouble. You were pretty positive against him last time out in Australia, and rather more cautious over here. I don’t think Warner or Smith in particular are going to let him tie you down.

I know Anderson is a source for much of your “bantz” Dennis, but he’s quite a divisive character on the blog. I believe he’s one the diehard, love England regardless section adore, while some of the more cynical, jaded among us believe he got the record because he stayed upright longer than any of our other decent bowlers in the past 20 years.

I think my attitude to him could best be described as “tepid”. I find him remarkably dour and uninteresting, although I can’t ignore 400 test wickets -it’s a fact and he did it. My belief is that if he were around in 2005 bowling like this, I wouldn’t have picked him in our team. There’s a debate over whether he would have replaced Matthew Hoggard, but not for me (as he’d won us the South Africa series with his spell in Jo’burg). The first test will be key in setting the tone. Let Anderson get on top of you, and your batting might struggle to free the shackles. See him off, weather him at Lord’s where he usually performs, and I think you’ll have got the better of him.

10) Is Stokes capable of stealing a game or two off his own bat? 

No. And I like Ben Stokes. We see Stokes as a KP figure. He doesn’t appear to march to the disciplinary drum. We had someone like that recently.

The rub on KP, and you knew I’d get him in somewhere, is that individual performances are all well and good, but you need to be a team player, a team man, as if individuality doesn’t count as much in jolly old England. Stokes is almost the ultimate individual. He will play the most idiotic shots to get out, or bowl a load of old nonsense. That is the way he plays. He will get drunk on tour, or he’ll punch a locker, and the old heads and the stuffed shirts will sniff and snort, and want to teach him a lesson. I fear for him. He’s not nice amiable Jos, who won’t say a controversial word. He’s brash. He’ll give it a go.

Stokes had a brilliant Lord’s test against New Zealand, and immediately it’s “Flintoff this” or “Botham that” from our hyperbolic press or ECB-TV. There was great focus on his record paced 100, but it wasn’t even his best innings of the match. It was the 90-odd he made in the first innings, pulling us out of the 30/4 mire we were in. He got the two big beasts of New Zealand batting in the second innings, but his bowling is erratic, and while there is a lot of promise there, he’s still not a key cog in the bowling wheel as the other two mentioned above were. He’s the fourth one used, and there is no doubt that is his place.

That said, he’s exciting, he’s got talent, he has an attitude, he plays with passion and his heart on his sleeve. We’re a nation that loves that, when we’re winning, or when that individual is successful. But once that individual has a dip in form, watch out. As we saw last year when the media piled into him over his locker-punching incident and his inability to provide anything last summer. They’ll take the good times and be over him in the bad. That’s us. I think you call it “tall poppy syndrome”.

11) Which Englishmen are likely to quit mid series this time?

Ah. Damien Martyn syndrome, you mean? Well, if we’re 3-0 down I would imagine Alastair Cook might have to quit as captain, but then again, I thought he’d have gone ages ago. Anderson would be the likeliest, or maybe Broad, but they would be extreme long shots. I think Bell is more likely to be dropped than quit.

That tour was such a disaster it makes you wonder what was really going on. We are still wondering!!!!

12) Swann was the difference last time in the UK. Is Moeen any chance of getting close to having Swanns impact? Why no Rashid?

Ian Bell was the difference in the last series, and Stuart Broad too (as well as a one man show with the ball by Anderson at Trent Bridge) so I don’t agree with the immediate contention. Moeen Ali is, by most people’s definition, a decent county bat and a decent spin bowler, but he’s nowhere near Swann’s level. We did what we usually do as a media in this country – blow too much smoke up his arse when he has a couple of decent performances, and then say we told you so when he struggles. He now bats at 8, which is scandalous for a man with his ability if not results, and his bowling has been disappointing if you compare it to his early days.

Rashid is an unknown quantity to me in the long form of the game. I’m not a Yorkie, my county plays second division cricket, and I don’t like judging spin bowlers on one day form? Why no Rashid? Well, ask the brains trust out in the Caribbean that. He wasn’t played in the first game, supposedly, because he bowled badly in the nets. And boy, were we told he bowled badly in the nets. Again and again and again. That’s the way we roll. After that, Moeen came straight back into the team, and not pulled up any trees. It doesn’t look promising.

My thanks for Dennis’s co-operation, and he has expressed an interest in being on the Ashes panel this summer. It was a lot of fun for me putting the questions and answers together last weekend. Remember, Dennis can be found on his blog – – and on Twitter or @DennisCricket_ – so follow his unsubtle (unfunny, always!) japes at our expense……

Dmitri’s Ashes Memories – Part 2 – The First Day’s Test Cricket

I thought I’d write a short piece on my first ever day’s test cricket. A friend had a ticket for the 2nd day of the final test at The Oval in 1997 but then had to pull out at the last minute. At this stage the prospect of me ever getting to see a day of Ashes cricket felt remote, so to be offered this joyous thing the day before was mind-blowing. I cajoled a day off from my boss, cursed the weather forecast that said it would be one of those on-off days and prayed they were wrong. I went with two people I didn’t know that well, but knew some of my cricket club crowd would be there somewhere or other!

The journey from the wilds of South East London and then on the crowded tube train from London Bridge added to the excitement (and trepidation). The fast moving, threatening clouds were a hindrance, no, a bloody annoyance. I’d waited for this opportunity for years and the great British weather was going to spoil it. I knew it. All this excitement for nothing….. but still, no liquid came from the sky. There was hope.

Ticket in hand I went to the seat, which was in one of those stands which has now been replaced by the OCS behemoth. It might have been the Jardine Stand, it might have been the Fender. It didn’t matter one jot. What did was that England had been skittled for shirt buttons on the first day (by McGrath) and although Tuffers had nabbed a couple of wickets the previous night, England needed lots of wickets quickly to stay in the game.

As the players came out the weather closed in. The morning session saw at least two rain breaks, but in between the cricket was hard fought. At that time Greg Blewett was batting at three and he was mostly a flowing, exciteable batsman, but was in prime dig in mode. I seem to recall we got Mark Waugh early on. The Aussies had resumed on 77 for 2 (he says looking up the scorecard) and Mark got out with the score on 94. A 46 run partnership ensued between Steve Waugh and Blewett befor Caddick won an LBW decision against the former and Stewart stumped the latter off Tuffers 10 runs later. 150 for 5 in reply to 180 meant the game was back in the balance, even if the Aussies just held the upper hand.

I was absorbed into the contest. This didn’t feel like a dead rubber to me, but a cut and thrust contest between the oldest international rivals. You felt like you were somewhere special, in amongst it, living every ball of a gripping contest. It would be the first of sixteen consecutive Fridays at The Oval for me and I was hooked. And it got better. Ian Healy went after a scratchy old knock of 2 in 34 balls. Shaun Young, making his only appearance for Australia went immediately after, both caught behind by Stewart off Tufnell. 164 for 7 and Tufnell had six of them. This was brilliant.

Ricky Ponting remained in. At this stage of his career he was the young buck, fighting for his place in the herd, and his ton at Headingley two tests before had been a massively important innings. Now the man who would be a thorn in our side for years to come was the one man holding us back. He was redoubtable, mixing defence and attack as he eked out 40 vital runs before being the last man out with the score on 218 and a lead of 38. Except it wasn’t – overnight the TV replays upgraded a four made by Blewett to a six, and the final score was 220. Tufnell finished with figures of 7/66 and we had a game.

The weather stayed fair, I managed to get into the section where my club mates were, which was much more in line with the pitch. I saw England lose three wickets before the deficit was erased. Atherton fell first, but not to McGrath but Kasprowicz, who was embarking on a 7 for too. Stewart and Butcher fell LBW before the close, Hussain was rendered shotless (he made 2 in 50 balls) but stayed until the end, while I got to see my hero of the time, Thorpe do his thing and keep the England ship afloat. Just. The day finished with England 55/3. The third day, as we probably all remember was a thriller, as England defended a 124 target and bowled the Aussies out for 124. I think I went to see Millwall play York City (we lost 3-2).

The day was a blur. I had to use the scorecard as my prime trigger of memories. I just have a memory of Blewett and Ponting keeping us just enough at bay to keep the Aussies on top. But it was a day just to be treasured. Now, having gone to a lot of test cricket and such stuff, the memories of the first day seem almost childish (and I was in my late 20s at the time) and naive. But it’s that feeling of being a very insignificant part of history that makes it special. Awe inspiring. A privilege. I never forget that last bit. It’s a privilege to be able to be there. It shouldn’t be a matter of being privileged to do so.

The buzz, the business, the crowd. There’s no better place to be when you don’t feel like you are being soaked for cash. I did not get that sense then, and in fact for many, many years. This was an event where you could bring your own beer, for heaven’s sake. What was not to like?

I got a really great first day. I’d be interested to hear about your first day’s test cricket. Did it impress you as much as mine did for me?

With another Dmitri Ashes Memory, I bid you all a great day.

A Dmitri Ashes Memory – Brisbane 2002


Well, hello. Settle in to a comfortable chair and let me introduce this little piece. I will pick out an Ashes memory of mine, and with my usual traits of brevity and waffle-free prose, explain what it meant to me and why you might give a stuff.

So I thought I’d turn to my first ever overseas test match to kick this little segment off. Back in the very old days of How Did We Lose In Adelaide, the blog was originally conceived as a spin off from a general diary I was doing at the time. I thought a cricket blog would work. What I had in mind, which is normal when I’m phenomenally bored in the office where most ideas gestate (either that or on the walk to the station), was to write a long story on my travails of the 2006/7 tour where I saw the calamitous loss in Adelaide, the loss in Perth (and missed the Gilchrist ton) and basically lose my sanity along with my wallet, and sunglasses, and money etc. as over a year of hell and damnation caught up with me (some of you might know both my parents died within 9 months of each other in 2005-6).

In the scene setter for another piece of work I never finished (I wanted to watch the whole test ball by ball, but my old DVD video recorder broke down during the test and my brother couldn’t retrieve it all) I recalled the 2002 tour and my first ever overseas test. At this time I was a single man, on the cusp of a relationship with someone mentioned obliquely in a previous post, and with some spare cash and a great mate (and still a great mate although he blew me out tonight) in Sir Peter, who comes on here occasionally, we hit on an idea in early 2002 to invest in a magical holiday (for me especially as I’d been no further than Turkey) to Australia and to see two tests matches. To say I bored my work mates about this (many of who go long haul now, when I don’t – trips to the in-laws don’t count) would be an understatement. By the time it came to actually leave, I was as excited as I’ve ever been. It was, without doubt. the greatest holiday I’ve ever been on. Awe and wonderment at every turn. A sheer disbelief that I was actually there. And nothing summed it up more than the walk from our apartment in near South Brisbane station (the apartments were called West End) to the ground. This was as big as it got. I just thought how lucky I was to be there. Blessed.

To inject some current day anger into this, this is the sort of stuff that renders the absolute weapon’s grade cobblers DucDeBlangis said in his BT: clusterf*ck today. I went around the world, spent a lot of my money, and had three and a half weeks leave to watch a team, and cricket was the primary focus, I knew would get hammered. I drank, I sung the songs, I bantered with the Aussies, I had a whale of a time. Loyalty? Pack it in you absolute moron. Do not ever question my loyalty because I despised what went on.

Anyway, back to Brisbane. I thought I’d dig out my piece on HDWLIA, which is a bit dry but catpured some of the essence of what it meant, and how it went.

Overseas I’d seen England’s 384 run demolition by the Aussies at the Gabba in 2002 . That was notable for one major thing – the toss. England won it, but because Nasser Insane had no faith in his bowling attack, he stuck the Aussies in on a belting batting surface. At the end of Day 1 Australia were 364 for 2, Bully Boy Hayden had 186, Ponting looked serene in scoring 123 and we traipsed away from the ground all melancholy and deflated. Although we had a reasonable Friday, a half-decent Saturday, the game was up well before England set out on scoring 464 to win, and when the collapse ensued, and England were dismissed for a paltry 79, we were on the Gold Coast availing ourselves of Bald Eagle’s swimming pool and barbecue facilities. Oh, I almost forgot, but Bully Boy Hayden helped himself to a second innings ton too.

I think a number of things stick out from my first test overseas. The service in the ground was first class – no ten/fifteen minute waits for the beer or food. The stadium itself was a little soul-less but the atmosphere generated by what was, in essence, a “footy” stadium now was pretty good. I’d seen England get put to the sword at The Oval on relatively few occasions, but to see it having paid a good deal of time, money and effort seemed somehow less painful. The memories of the crowded Gabba Hotel after the day’s play were also fresh, with the constant horse-racing action on the TV. There was our incredibly haired acquaintance from Birmingham, I wish I remember his name (maybe Sir Peter can help), who put us in the direction of the site which helped us to a couple of bargains on this and the 2006 tour – another top chap, and absolute diamond who smuggled us into the top tier. Then was our old mate [name removed]… but less of that the better. I do wonder what would have happened if he’d taken us even further down the road before my suspicions got the better of me.

As for England’s display, there was not a lot to credit it. Simon Jones looked good before he got that terrible knee injury that has so blighted his career. The fielding on the first day was awful with some absolutely horrific dropped chances. Hoggard dropped Hayden when he skied the ball up in the air, hardly laying a finger on it, while Vaughan dropped the same batsman to an absolute sitter. I still have the video from that 1st day and Botham’s reactions were priceless.

I still have a ton of memories of the interviews and newspaper reviews I did for the Sir Peter produced “Live and Uncut Down Under” – one of my favourites was the interview on Day 4 when I’m looking at the Sunday papers in Brisbane. As I start my review you can hear a crack of the bat, and the cheers of the Aussie crowd. I look to the action, and then turn to the camera and say, rather sardonically “Matthew Hayden has just hit Craig White’s first ball for six…..” It summed up my mood. The feeling that all hope had long since evaporated and that the Aussie juggernaut cared little for English endeavour had pervaded my enlightened mood. As we left The Gabba at lunch on the 4th day we had plans to return the next day if England were making a fight of it. As our train pulled out of South Brisbane station en route for Helensvale, news reached us via Danno on the text to Sir Peter to tell us Michael Vaughan was out second ball for 0 – and England were 1 for 1. Well, we thought, that makes the task harder for us….

Beep Beep – Oh no, Trescothick has also gone and it is 3 for 2. I exclaimed “tell Danno to Go to Bed Man…he’s making us depressed” – to which, shortly thereafter, he did. When we got to Helensvale we saw the farce on TV as England collapsed to 79 all out, and we enjoyed a day on the Gold Coast and the very charming town of Beaudesert before returning to our place the night after and flying off to Port Douglas the following morning….

A little fleeting but such great memories. I may add a couple of pics to this later, although regrettably, this pre-dates my digital camera days. I do remember texting my great mate Zeitkratzer Stockhausen (a colleague who posts here very rarely) and saying “I’m walking down Vulture Street to the Gabba. I just don’t believe this is me doing this” or something like that. I can’t put into words the feelings I had doing it. Awe. That might sum it up.

Entering the stadium and taking it all in was overwhelming. A steward said to me “you are really fair skinned, make sure you wear that hat all day” which was nice. I remember talking to two guys who had come from the countryside for their only day’s cricket that year and chatting away. Another in front of me had come from Lancashire and was touting Jimmy Anderson’s inclusion in the squad when Simon Jones had that horrible injury. I recall a particularly aggressive man swearing all day at Matthew Hoggard. I remember the toss, and my reaction is on video. No, you can’t see it. I remember 364 for 2, and the Vaughan drop. It was vivid. It was an amazing, wonderful, sensory overdrive day. It wasn’t particularly alcohol fuelled, as I wanted to watch cricket, not drink beer. We saved the main session for the following night. To top off day 1, Sir Peter’s school mate drove up to Helensvale, we had a beer with him round the corner from our apartment, he had a lovely conversation on the phone with Sir Peter’s father, and from that day on Peter is always prefixed in my company as “Sir” and I was always “Lord”. I’ll tell that story another day.

We weren’t there for the end of the match, which will probably have me strung up on some charge of disloyalty, as we went down to Sir Peter’s mate’s place just off the Gold Coast and had a lovely time. I don’t think anything quite tops seeing a test match abroad for the first time, and although I’ve never been back to the Gabba, I’ll always look on it fondly.

It certainly won’t be for being present at a test when someone made a ton in each innings. I was never a fan of Matthew Hayden!

More Ashes memories as and when, but feel free to add your own of Brisbane if you have any. I’m thinking of Day One at Lord’s 2005 for the next one, but you never know. It’s these experiences that make me love the game and write about it, and importantly feel passionate and, yes, angry about it. How can something you care about so much, bring you to this level of anger. I think we all know why.

Have a great evening.