The End of The Road – Preview and Possible Live Blog – 5th Day

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Day 5. In a new world this won’t exist, so I suppose we had better appreciate them while they are still here. This Day 5 comes to us with very little in the way of suspense. 56 runs to win, 10 wickets in hand, a bowling attack that never looked like taking a wicket, an off field controversy, and all around the England team are naysayers and doom-mongers wittering on about the wheels falling off. Welcome to the Ashes, welcome to the tumult that follows it around.

So, for another four year we can put away the tedious cliche that is Gabbatoir. This was a wicket England could certainly work with and for three days, give or take a session, they were well in the game, putting up a competitive, even at times, leading display. There were plaudits being thrown around for Joe Root’s captaincy, how innovative and proactive it had been. Today I heard Lovejoy effectively say he wasn’t cut out to be captain and should never have been given the job (and, I presume, the pay rise that comes with it).

There was a moment last night on commentary that Lovejoy said that there wasn’t anyone out there leading them in the field. There weren’t enough voices. Bairstow is in’t the most vocal of keepers; Moeen Ali is too laid back; Stoneman is an introvert; Vince is quite; and best of all “Alastair Cook wouldn’t say boo to a goose”. I don’t know, I read too much into things, but if you could put into microcosm what has gone wrong with English cricket since the final days of the Flower regime, this was it. It was his gang that no doubt made all newcomers feel welcome (and others, I know), and if you were particularly vocal in this your face didn’t fit and you were briefed against or sacked. Lordy, I would keep my gob shut in that atmosphere. When the time comes for you to be vocal, who is going to take any notice if you are new or been quiet for years. In the main, not always, England have won a test match since the last Ashes when in front from the start. If we fall behind, there have been a couple of fightbacks, but we fold. It was said about the last tour that this was a team at the end of its tether, with itself, and the individuals that composed it. This is a team which seems to be slightly fearful. They responded well to the early exchanges but as the game went on, they got worse. A lot worse. Not Karun Nair worse, but bad enough.

There will be a lot to chew over in the next few days, and you know we are very responsive to defeats, with plenty of constructive comment, and also poking fun and pointing out the inadequacies of fanboys/girls who somehow think that not cheering hard enough causes this, while the media reaction will be fascinating. Management and the players allowed low expectations to fester last winter as some sort of reason for failure being fine and dandy, but it doesn’t wash when most of the pundits think Australia has two batsmen and a load of filler. Chris Woakes, by acclaim, was the most improved cricketer of the last 18 months, but he’s now back in the spotlight after one anonymous game. Jake Ball was thrown in, more in hope than expectation and now there isn’t a pundit who thinks he will play in Adelaide.

So when David Warner and Cameron Bancroft come out to bat in a couple of hours time, it will be interesting to watch how England play. A display of fight, getting in their faces, trying to inflict a wound or two would signal intent. Just turning up, hoping it is all over in half an hour will be a disappointment.  Lovejoy believed the team never thought for one minute that they could bowl out Australia for fewer than 170, and it came across in their body language (what a load of old bollocks – if they nicked a couple of wickets early no-one would have mentioned how they came out on the field – confirmation bias at its worst) from the start.

I haven’t yet got the chance to see the highlights of yesterday. I’ll load them up onto my phone for the flight to Madrid on Tuesday (a day bloody trip to Madrid) and perhaps comment afterwards. So I’ve not seen the stumping or YJB’s shot. I’ve read enough about them. But between Brisbane and Adelaide we will recover some energy, comment on what we see and hear and importantly, get the second Ashes panel convened.

For those who filled it in, and want to participate the questions are as follows:

  1. So now the Brisbane result is in, what has it shown you about the relative strengths and weaknesses (and some perhaps not highlighted by the mainstream media)
  2. Adelaide at night? In favour of day-night in the Ashes, or are you a reactionary old fuddy duddy?
  3. Put that Steve Smith innings into context. Tell me an Ashes ton you thought was better.
  4. Lots mentioned that Alastair Cook’s form may be in decline. What are your thoughts on this Damascene conversion?
  5. I was quite underwhelmed by the Aussie pace attack for much of the test match, yet now they “blow teams away”. What were your thoughts?
  6. If you have BT Sport – what did you think of their coverage. Try not to focus on Lovejoy.

Please DO NOT answer the questions in the comments, but send them to dmitriold@hotmail.co.uk . If we get too many, I’ll pick the best of them. I don’t expect too many.

Now to the Live Blog. I’ve not spoken to Danny, who might run it tonight. I have to pack the border collie off to my brother very early tomorrow and had very little sleep last night, so I’m going to bed before the day’s play. If we run a blog it will be below. If not, please put your comments below. Our thanks for our friends, old and new, for making the Live Blog and Review such a success. We are glad we can provide such an outlet. Hope you enjoyed it too.

Pray for a miracle.

0004 Broad bowls the first over, Warner scores 3 and Australia only need 53 more.

0009 Anderson from the other end. Warner gets a single and Australia need 52.

0016 Another 2 overs gone, another 6 runs scored. 48 required.

0032 Woakes and Ball have taken over now, 37 needed.

0047 Slow going, 30 more runs needed.

0050 Bancroft edges a Jake Ball delivery through a vacant second slip. Another 4 runs on the board, and that’s 25 more required.

0102 Single figures needed now…

0109 And that’s it. Cameron Bancroft hits a looping drive straight over a short mid off to the boundary, and AUSTRALIA HAVE WON BY 10 WICKETS.

0131 Bayliss: England need to score hundreds. Stunning insight there.

0132 Overton next in line in the squad it seems, and he’ll be watching Mark Wood’s progress in the Lions.

0133 Bayliss says the Bairstow incident is blown out of all proportion but also that he needs “a stern talking to”. A bit muddled.

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Australia vs England: 1st Test, Day Four – Preview and Live Blog

After three days of largely attritional cricket, this match remains in the balance heading into the fourth day.  Yet if England were fractionally ahead before yesterday, Australia are a little further in front today.  Steve Smith’s patient century ground down England’s bowlers, before Josh Hazlewood bowled with more intent and hostility than anyone else has managed on this still placid surface to rip out a couple of wickets before England had wiped off the deficit.

England are effectively 7-2, and the third innings of a tight contest is the one where all the pressure is on the batting side – particularly as time begins to run out in the game.  It is impossible to see England getting into a position where they could declare with any reasonable expectation of winning, and so their best chance is to be bowled out.  But being bowled out will be forefront of their minds, which is why the third knock becomes so pressurised – score runs, don’t get becalmed, don’t take risks and don’t get out.  England have got stuck on many an occasion when faced with that conundrum, reducing themselves to a strokeless defence that brings defeat anyway.  Quite simply, they have to score runs.

The loss of Cook in the gloaming was probably more symbolic than anything else.  He hasn’t looked in good form, and his record away from home over the last couple of years has been modest to say the least.  Yet his wicket, along with Root’s, is still the most prized by opponents, and still the one that sends the most tremors through supporters in a position such as this one.  The manner of his dismissal has been criticised by some, excused by others, but as ever the problem with Cook is not the cricket, it is the double standards applied.  The hook shot was on, and there was absolutely nothing reckless about him playing it.  He just played it poorly, and was caught.  That happens to every player, where many get annoyed is that others doing the same thing receive bucketloads of opprobrium where Cook does not.

Even so, being out hooking is certainly no worse than the leaden footed push to which he was out in the first innings.  He appears to once again be struggling with his technique – the familiar problem of his head going too far across, his front foot taking a step rather than a stride, and his back leg coming round to prevent himself toppling over.  That’s why he ends up front on rather than side on and is so prone to being caught behind.  He’s a player who spends his time battling his technique constantly, and has been here before, managing to put it right.  The worry is that being in this place at the start of a series doesn’t bode well for the rest of it.  He knows his game, and England will be praying he can make the adjustment, otherwise this is going to prove a very long tour.

That’s in the past as far as this game is concerned.  The reality is that the ever critical first session here is one in which Australia can win the game.  But last night’s hostility was with a new ball, one which will just be starting to lose its shine and hardness.  The pitch remains slow, and the demons can only be in English minds.  England are more than capable of getting a score here, and more than capable of putting Australia under real stress.  The doubts surround England’s ability to withstand the pressure, rather than their ability to bat on this pitch.  There is certainly the batting depth needed, and if Smith is an exceptional batsman, then so is Joe Root, and England badly need him to show it.

One fly in the ointment concerns the fitness of James Anderson – something that won’t remotely matter unless England bat well – given he was seen to be touching his side before taking a painkiller and seeming to limit his bowling the rest of the day.  England insist he’s fine, but they do have a track record of not telling the whole truth (rightly so, in a match situation where there’s no need to give the opposition reason to cheer), and if Anderson really is struggling, it dramatically affects England’s chances, even if they do get a half reasonable total.  Add to that the whispers about Moeen Ali’s fitness and if there’s anything in that, then a draw might represent the best England can hope for.

If England have a good day, then this game is well and truly on.  But if they have so much as a bad hour, then it’s probably game over.  There is some bad weather around, particularly tomorrow, which could also change the dynamic.

One last point about this game, just imagine for a moment that some of those who should know better had got their way and this was a four day Test.

As with yesterday, we’ll be live blogging the events for as long as we stay awake.  The “we” refers to three of us, the other is showing worrying signs of being a vampire, and Danny will undoubtedly be the last one standing.  As ever, come and join us for as long as you are able, and as long as we can keep our eyes open.

19:43 I don’t know about you lot, but I’m going to the pub…

19:58 Dmitri on his own as his beloved is going back to her homeland to meet her relatives. So, I look wistfully towards Brisbane for your now regular early evening snapshot from the Bureau of Meteorology:

20:03 Anyone a Telegraph subscriber to let us know the latest stunning insight from Shiny Toy?

21:11 While watching the Iron Bowl (look it up, and also check out the youtube clip of the Kick Six), let’s think back to some Day 4s at the Gabba. First up, and you are probably getting fed up with me going on about it, 2002. Matthew Hayden completed his second century of the match (it’s the picture in today’s header) and below. There’s a moment where Sir Peter is filming me for his tour video (no release) where I am reviewing the papers and you hear a huge crack of bat on ball. It’s Hayden hitting the first ball Craig White bowls for six. We left at lunchtime to meet Sir Peter’s mate down at the Gold Coast, and England collapsed. Our Day 5 tickets never mattered.

21:21 2006 and it’s a tale of missing it all. I was on a Singapore Airlines flight on the way to Adelaide to see the second test, and the first I heard of the day’s play came on the walkway at Changi. Four wickets lost at the end of play. 90 odd for Collingwood, KP in the 90s. Maybe the first three days were just a figment of our imagination or a rusty start. We might lose, but at least not without a fight. Good signs. Well, that’s what we thought.

21:31 Ah. Day 4 in 2010. One wicket lost all day, centuries for Strauss and Cook, the game made safe. I watched pretty much all of it that night. You actually never felt the Aussies were going to take a wicket. I have the whole of that day on DVD. Actually the whole series. It gets aired a bit.

21:37 It is pretty interesting to me that I have virtually no recollections of the early parts of the 2013/14 Ashes. None. So we may have taken the Brisbane test to the 4th day, but I just don’t remember. Now, if I were a member of some of the punditry that would be enough. But we don’t do that here. I have the highlights on my portable hard drive. We started at 24/2 with Cook and KP at the crease. They took it to 72/2 before KP holed out to long leg, so we’ll be looking up some of the match reports on that! England were bowled out for 179, Johnson took five wickets. We lost by a distance. You know the rest.

21:44 John Etheridge has noticed.

A “slow decline”. Well, it’s better for them to acknowledge it now, I suppose. And man alive, I smiled at this:

“Cook has three centuries in his last 54 Test innings spread across two years. If you want to look further, it is six hundreds in 105 innings stretching back to the summer of 2013.”

They don’t read us. Try the no centuries in 31 Ashes innings while you are at it, John.

21:52 Iron Bowl looks a great game – 7-7. #WarEagle . Back at the cricket, the fourth day in 1986 was one of attrition and at the end, worry for England. Having made Australia follow on, England took half of the wickets they needed, but at 243/5, the Aussies were in the lead and had an unbeaten centurion (Geoff Marsh) still there. Contrary to some people who said overseas cricket was never on terrestrial, Day 5 was covered live in the UK on BBC (introduced, if I recall correctly by David Icke).

22:22 Day 4 in 1982/3, and Graeme Fowler bats for just shy of six hours to make 83 and at least give England an opportunity to set the Aussies a meaningful target. 279 for 7, 208 runs in a day, Thomson taking five wickets. We may talk about Day 5 tomorrow.

22:50 The pre-match hour will be taken over by Sean, who has assured us his levels of light refreshment were not at last night’s level. That’s nice. Meanwhile there’s a Maxie sighting in the comments. He’s also been all over Twitter. Follow him. The Mentor.

22:53 Dmitri leaves you with memories of 1994. On the 4th day of Brisbane I woke up and England were 211 for 2. Thorpe and Hick with a really good partnership to give us a chance of saving the game. What we wouldn’t give for such resistance today. I’m pessimistic. Of course I am. Anyway, take it away Sean……

22:56 Good evening everyone (said in my best Richie Benaud accent). Apologies for my absence yesterday, I had one too many light refreshments at a leaving do and could only manage ‘pitch the fecking ball up you feckers’ by way of insight…

22:59 Not that i promise to that much more insightful this evening before you get your hopes up…

23:05 So what does everyone think we need? My own personal opinion is that a lead of 280 is the minimum requirement especially with fitness doubts over Jimmy and Moeen. If we lose a couple of wickets in the first hour, we could be cannon fodder.

23:18 Could be a bit of weather around today, wonder if that might juice up the pitch..

23:25 In other news, Danny should be just waking up now..

23:27:Really interesting comment from Maxie BTL re: BT Sport production. I think in general (from the small bits I’ve seen) is that it’s pretty slick; unfortunately it’s let down by poor personnel choices. I dare anyone to listen to Graeme Swann for half an hour and not feel slightly homicidal. It also shows how good Ian Ward is in my opinion.

23:37 I do have to concede having watched the highlights this afternoon that the Steve Smith innings was something special. With the technique he has honed, it really doesn’t seem logical that he can score runs, let alone be so consistently good but fair play to him, he was a class apart yesterday. Even if he has a tiny head..

23:49 I still randomly like Boycott’s commentary. There I’ve said it, it feels like a dirty secret…

23:58 Here we go then, can England get through the first session unscathed…

00:00 FIRST BALL and left alone

00:02 Alison Mitchell & Punter heading up the commentary. Perhaps Lovejoy has tonsillitis (says a little prayer)..

00:09 I’ve genuinely been amazed that Starc has been identified as the key Australian threat with the ball. For me Hazlewood is their gun bowler, despite his poor show in the first innings. His spell last night was unplayable at times.

00:13 This pitch doesn’t look like it has any demons in it, Root looks in decent touch too. I wonder how much spin might play a part later on. Lyon outbowled Moeen big time in the first innings.

00:18 Ricky Ponting is a very good commentator, no laddish jokes, just insightful opinion. He’ll never get a job on Channel 9 mind.

00:25 Australia’s attack looks a little toothless this morning. The pitch is still slow, but equally England have silenced the crowd in the first half hour. I wonder how long before Cummins is bought into the attack?

00:27 Oh feck, Swann is alive and well and joined by Shiny Toy. Might have to put the TV on mute…

00:32 An update on TLG, he’s just finished his Lambrini in the local park in Sussex and is off for a dirty donner. More on that later…

00:36 First over from Lyon, no real spin so far. Cummins at the other looks far more of a threat. If you’d have offered me this at the start of the day’s play, I’d have snapped your hand off

00:47 Some discontent about scoring rates BTL. I must admit that I’m delighted by this start. We all know that Kookaburra ball goes soft after 20 overs and there’s the option of increasing the scoring rate. I’d be very happy if England batted all day, but then i did worry we’d be blown away in the 3rd innings…

00:49 WICKET: Stoneman edges one off Lyon to slip. Australia’s bowling has looked innocuous all morning, but that was a decent delivery

00:52 TBF to Swann, he has got it spot on there. It was the arm ball at the end of the last over that led to some doubt in Stoneman’s mind. I just wish Swann would concentrate on commentating based on his own experience as a spinner. Rather than trying to be the funniest man in the world.

00:57 England looking nervous after that wicket. Cummins and Lyon both bowling well.

00:59, TLG is back from the park and is ready to take over. He has informed me that he wouldn’t feed Lambrini to his butler but the bottle of Blue Nun was lovely. Anyway, over to Chris…

01:00 Where I live we don’t have parks; we have countryside.  Anyway…

Even with the loss of Stoneman, this has been a positive start from England today.  They’re pushing for runs, being busy.  The point about Root is that if he stays in, he will score.  That’s probably the most striking thing about him.  Lyon does look dangerous to the lefties though.

01:03 I need to ask a question.  Who is reading the updates?  Anyone?  Bueller?  Bueller?

01:12 Bueller’s taken a day off it seems. 70-3, a lead of 44.  At what point will Australia start to get twitchy I wonder.  If they put on 50 for this wicket, I suspect they’ll start getting concerned.  In a compacted second half of the game like this, smaller numbers count for more.

01:15 Awww Trev….

01:18 WICKET!  Malan goes to Lyon.  One of those with loop and bounce and turn, that is so hard for the left hander.  No blame, but England are 48 ahead and now four wickets down.  Root is still there, but someone needs to stay with him.

01:21 Given how hard it is, I suspect Moeen might try and counter attack.  Probably not the worst idea either.  There are stories going around that he has a problem with his finger, hampering his bowling.  The official line is that he was a blister.

01:29  England’s lead is now up to 57, but of course they’ve lost two wickets this morning.  Not enough runs, clearly, but neither have they collapsed (yet) so far.  Another 100 gives England a slight chance, another 150 and it’s game on.  England are well in the game, but it would probably be an idea to build a partnership sooner rather than later.

01:42 Runs are flowing a touch.  Both Root and Moeen are playing a few shots – not recklessly, but they’re looking to score.  This partnership is 28 from 33 balls, and that has to be what England need to do.  It might not come off, but it’s more than worth a go.

01:48 Watching the groundstaff smack down the bowlers’ footmarks reminds me of how we used to wind up the bowlers about their preference for one end.  “Oh I can’t bat at that end, it just doesn’t feel right.  No, no, I can only bat at the other end.  You don’t understand, it’s totally different”.

01:51 I don’t want to tempt fate, but Moeen is starting to tick here….

01:52 50!  WICKET! Joe Root out in similar fashion to the first innings, and it looked very, very out on first viewing.

02:01 And that’ll be lunch.  119-5 means a lead of 93, and frankly, it’s not remotely enough.  Still two frontline batsmen in of course, Jonny Bairstow and Moeen Ali, the latter of which is clearly itching to go after the Australians.  But another 100 would be needed to really make the hosts sweat a little, and that seems a long way off yet.  It’s possible mind, it really is possible.  But it’s heading towards the outer edge of what’s possible.  Hope is the last thing to die…

02:11 Truly joyous moment in the lunch break where Swann berated the England left handers for not formulating a plan against Nathan Lyon while Geoff Boycott adopted his ‘You’re talking total shit, Swann’ expression.  “I’m not sure I agree with that….” he politely said.

Keep your eye on Boycott’s expression.

02:30 There’s something particularly endearing about hearing Australians describe the Gabba as the fairest cricket wicket in the world, given how it’s 30 years since they’ve lost a Test there.  Irony deficiency is entertaining to watch.

02:38 Players coming back out.  This next session is crucial.  Crucial I tell you!  Or maybe vital.  Definitely crucial though.

02:43 Moeen isn’t going to die wondering.  First he comes down the track and belts Lyon over long on for four, then he goes down on one knee and nails a sweep through square leg.  And the lead goes over 100.

02:55 Interesting to see Australia move a little on the defensive after a flurry of runs after lunch.  Fielders disappearing out to the boundary suggests that the hosts are a tiny bit nervous about chasing any kind of reasonable total. 112 ahead.

03:06 This is good stuff from these two.  Rotating the strike, picking up the singles, and then Bairstow sashays down the track and plants Lyon over deep midwicket for six.  The lead goes to 123, and if Australia aren’t getting nervous yet, there’s definitely a bit of a twitch going on.

03:15 This Test is just starting to get fascinating.  These two have turned a disastrous position into one of, well not promise exactly, but possibilities certainly.  I’m going to quit while I’m ahead, and leave you in Danny’s company…

0319 Danny here, taking you through the graveyard shift. Promising session so far from England, but years of supporting them has told me that it’s the hope that make it hurt more…

0322 WICKET I think we can all agree that this was thelegglance’s fault. Moeen Ali plays forwards to a Lyon delivery which goes past the bat, and Tim Paine removes the stumps. Australia appeal, and after several replays the 3rd umpire gives him out as his back foot was on but not behind the line.

0335 Woakes is in, but not looking confident so far. England’s lead is just 132 and I fear this game might be over tonight.

0407 Australia keeping England very quiet, but no more wickets have fallen. Smith comes on to bowl, the first time he’s done so in a Test since January this year, which is surprising because Australia have toured both India and Bangladesh since then.

0427 WICKET Woakes attempts to defend a short ball from Mitchell Starc, but it slides off the shoulder of his bat to Smith at second slip. England lead by 159 with 7 wickets down.

0438 WICKET You understand that when batting with the tail, perhaps you should be more attacking. There is such a thing as too attacking though, and a prime example is this shot by Bairstow. Apparently looking to guide a short, wide ball from Starc over the slips, he instead sends it straight to third man with a shot more reminiscent of catching practice than Test cricket. England lead by 168 with 2 wickets remaining.

0444 WICKET 4 balls later from Starc and he bowls a full one outside off stump to Stuart Broad. The batsman plays inside it, and gets the faintest of nicks to the wicketkeeper. The umpire gave it not out, but Australia used a DRS appeal and both there was both a sound and a faint mark on HotSpot so he had to go.

0449 WICKET A bouncer from Cummins to tailender Jake Ball, who gets a glove on it and the ball loops behind the wicketkeeper where Handscomb catches it. England lost their last 4 wickets for just 4 runs, and Australia have a target of 169 runs with a minimum of 32 left in the day.

0509 All that typing has tired me out, so here’s Dmitri to open the Australian 2nd innings.

0510 Cheers Danny. 90 minutes sleep woken up by an absolute turd cold calling my number. I tried to get back to sleep, but gave up and am now assisting our night owl.  Anderson’s first over is a maiden.

0513 Mitchell on comms says Warner can make any small total look inadequate through aggressive batting. That’s because that attitude is encouraged. I’ve not seen YJB’s dismissal yet, but he’s being crucified on social media as Cook was last night and all through Saturday. Warner off the mark 1st ball. Bancroft follows him second ball. Warner takes a single third ball. All runs we should not be conceding. A boundary off the 5th ball and you can almost sense a slump in the shoulders. 7/0

0518 I remember the Gabba run chase in 1990. When they won by 10 wickets after we chucked away a decent position. The only time the team with a first innings lead has lost at Brisbane. A beauty fifth ball does not catch the edge. England need an early breakthrough, if that ain’t stating the bloody obvious. 8/0 after the third over.

0524 Better over so far, with a play and miss (and hopeful appeal) by Warner. They know they need to see off Broad and Anderson because the support bowling is a massive drop-off. Maiden for Broad. 8/0. As Mitchell just said.

0527 I’m not sure I can put up with KP’s commentary at this time of the morning. Bancroft squirts one through the gully for a four off the fourth ball. Anderson throws the ball at the opener the following ball but no fuss. End of the over and it is 12/0.

0531 Warner dinks one into the offside off the second ball of Broad’s third over for one. In Nagpur Virat Kohli has just gone through to his 19th test ton and you sense pulling away from Root (with Smith) at the top table of world batting. Broad’s over goes for 1, and it is 13/0. And I have to listen to Ray Winstone missing nuffink.

0535 and if that deep cover wasn’t there it would be 20/0. But anyway, no alarms so far. As i write that there is an LBW appeal fourth ball is too high and isn’t reviewed. One run from the over and it is 14/0.

0539 Bowling well without threatening, and some odd field placings so far, as Warner drops one into the leg side for a single off the second ball. One off that one, 15 for 0. Looks like, at this rate, we’ll be back tomorrow.

0545 Vaughan states the effing obvious that England need a wicket – we need 10 Shiny Toy. Warner takes a single off the third ball. He seems to have rumbled, Shiny, that is that the Aussies don’t rate our change bowlers and are just seeing off the openers. Bancroft takes a sharp single off the last ball to take Australia to 17/0.

0549 Another sharp single off the second ball of Broad’s over. This is annoying me more than anything, as it releases the pressure the bowlers are building, such as it is. A leg bye off the fifth with an appeal that was, sadly, nonsense. And the final ball of the over has another one of those bloody singles. 20/0, Anderson off and Moeen Ali on.

0553: Ali’s first ball is nudged for a single by Bancroft. Plus ca change. KP says Cook is the main concern. Another single off the third ball. Another bloody single off the 5th ball. KP is intimating Cook’s lost his mojo and his drive. Moeen’s first over ends, three runs from it. 23/0.

0557 PUJARA GONE FOR 143. Is that real?

0558 Woakes on for Broad. I don’t think it is a matter of Cook (who they are talking about) not caring, it’s that he is in decline. Appeal from behind the wicket off the fourth ball, but it’s not out. Maiden from Woakes. 23/0 from 12 overs. Minimum 22 to go. Sod off Kamara.

0602 Another bloody single off the third ball, again straight to a fielder. This is like the Old Jos, and no-one is mentioning it. After saying that Bancroft doesn’t know whether to stick or twist, Swann is made to look a little silly as the opener smacks a straight six. 30/0.

0606 Warner pulls the second ball of the over for a couple. He might not have hit a boundary but looks very comfortable to me. Nicks/glides the next one for four through third man. Actually probably a great shot. Cook “won’t say boo to a goose” says Lovejoy, which, I am sure, is why he should have remained captain for all those years. Warner has another single to point. I see it is the Buckethead Army this year as a promotion – it was Boony Army when I was out there. I love Aussie advertising. 37/0

0610 Excitement Machine Warner is tied down, but then cuffs a shot down the ground for four. I can sense the Moeen debate resurfacing. A single off the last ball and it is 41/0. And after my typing torrent, it is the more measured words of Danny for the rest of the day’s play. Get me a wicket Danny!

0615 I have to say that my last spell was terrible for England, so I wouldn’t expect anything.

0626 8 runs off the last Moeen Ali over, but it looks like Australia are happy to play steadily and come back tomorrow to finish things off.

0640 Nope, that’s all I can stand tonight, I’m off to bed.

1010 Dmitri back again with the end of play / chronic lack of sleep round-up. Danny will be producing a more full review of the day, so I thought I’d get in my twopenny worth.

This was stunningly predictable. I think something, a little bit, should be made about the lack of preparation on suitable playing surfaces and oppositions, because the team came in cold. That only goes so far. The players want shorter tours, they are on a treadmill and so on. The second, and much more important point, is that the team picked was so predictably going to pull up short. There’s not a lot that can be done about that either. The new intake are not as good as the old stagers, and it is showing. Stoneman, for instance, is getting praised to the hilt for basically giving us Michael Carberry returns. Vince makes 83, but that second innings dismissal didn’t look like a number 3 to me. Malan is going to tempt us, but fall short. We are greeting 50s like hundreds. And the world and his wife can see four right arm seamers is not the greatest variety. But let’s have the full inquest on another day.

Australia played really sensibly and not a lot could have changed the outcome once chasing a small total like this. What ground my gears is the way the two openers early in the innings were allowed to milk singles straight to fielders with no real chance of a run out. If we did that at schoolboy cricket we’d be told off. Come in a few paces. It’s just me, then.

Also, pace made the difference? I’m not totally buying that. The tail have taken to Starc and Hazlewood before so why worry now? One silly shot from YJB and everyone is in meltdown about the tail? Small sample size. Let us judge at the end of the tour.

So, in the words of Norwegian electronic music stars Royksopp, the Inevitable End will take place within an hour of the start of play and Australia will go 1-0 up. After the lack of sleep, was it all worth it. Of course it was, because for 3 and a half days it was a thoroughly absorbing test match. That’s the really important thing. There’s not a lot better in sport. The result is probably the cricket equivalent of the rugby international the week before. The better team won, the margin of victory could look a little flattering.

Wake up Danny (actually don’t, stay asleep). You review is awaited. I know I share my co-editors’ views that we owe our new man a lot for staying up through the night and producing the updates. Live blogging seems to have gone down well. We will see what we can do in the next tests.

 

 

“Day 3 At The Gabba….” – LIVE BLOG and Preview.

 

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It’s a parallel universe, and in that wonderful place it is Day 3 at the Woolloongabba and England are batting. They are 165 for 4, with Joe Root on 64, Dawid Malan on 44. Australia have posted 302. The pitch is not easy to score on and the bowling side has two opening bowlers with 900 wickets between them.  In that parallel universe the headlines on the Courier Mail would be “Pommies Holding On For Life”. Or something much more crude.

England are in a really decent position, having reduced the hosts to 76 for 4 but seeing the late session play go the way of the home side. At this point they are in front, not by far, but ahead. Day 3 is set for a terrific contest in an interesting test match. One little aside, amazing how Trent Bridge 2013, played on a slow, low surface, was slated as a terrible wicket to diminish the terrific game that unfolded, yet the Gabba gets a pass. We’ve missed attritional, fighting cricket so much that when we see it, we go mad. This is classic test cricket, fascinating, enjoyable and slow to unwind. Great.

The Editorial Committee discussed what we would do about tonight’s proceedings. We are concerned for Danny’s wellbeing as he has stayed up all night for the first two days’ play and we can’t commit that he will do a third – even though he has told us he will (he has been promoted to Editor this week, I’m sure he is thrilled!). While there is no work for us tomorrow, I’ve got a bloody Heathrow run so won’t be up all night. Others may be in late from their evening’s entertainment. It’s a tough life.

But we also note that the Live Blogging went down quite well despite everyone else seemingly doing it. We can’t bring the corporate heft of ESPN Cricinfo, the legendary voices of TMS, the pageantry and self awareness of the Guardian or the ever so enjoyable Guerilla Cricket, but we can bring our own brand of, well, whatever our brand is, to the Ashes cauldron caukdrib  ( Puts on Frank Muir voice – a caukdrib is a pot used to cook liquids at low temperatures….). So we’ve decided to live blog tonight, for as long as we stay awake.

FOR AS LONG AS WE STAY AWAKE.

It might catch on as a motto.

So, you know the form. Chip in with your comments below, and one of your loving, charming hosts will be updating you from here.

So for post number 1, Dmitri is kicking it off….

2121 – The latest weather radar from the Bureau of Meteorology….

Brisbane Radar 24

21:28 – A couple of things. Who is the person who has his/her hits from Santa Caterina province in Brazil? Always mystified me that one. And secondly, if your column is a regular dose of snark, make sure you get his name right in the photo caption.

Cook

This never happens to John Cena.

2201 – We’ve solved the Brasilian conundrum – welcome Mark. We’ve also got the first of Oliver Holt’s Holiday Snaps for today.

Read Martin Samuel’s nonsense in the Mail as well. He won’t be happy with a 1-1 draw at home to Leicester. Shame.

22:41 Been editing the live coverage for transfer on to my records. So…. many….. betting….. adverts. I am a nerd and I keep a lot of cricket. Broke my heart that I didn’t get the VHS all onto DVD as I had tons of Lara, Thorpe, Sachin (though he wasn’t my fave) and others. Up to date now and feel a bit better.

22:44 While we are looking at our viewers from afar, who is the one in Santiago, Chile? And the Dallas Metro area. Everyone very welcome. It really amazes me our little old blog has this reach.

23:01 Day 3 in Brisbane on my visit. Hungover from a long day in the sun and lots of beer. England capitulated, not totally, but enough to allow the Aussies a big lead, and then they accumulated for the rest of the day. The Saturday night was the Manchester derby. Watched it in an open air bar with a bloke who came from Deptford, like me. City won 3-1. Feeding goats or something or other.

23:04 Day 3 in Brisbane on the 2010/11 tour. Hussey and Haddin completed their 300+ stand after one of the unluckiest bowling sessions I’ve ever seen England have. Australia post big lead. Strauss has our hearts in mouths with a very close LBW shout leaving it. The next two days went down in legend.

23:07 Day 3 in Brisbane in the book I have out – the 1982/3 tour. Kepler Wessels had completed a century on debut the day before and almost carried his bat, making 162. England trailed by 122 runs, but Graeme Fowler dug in, we lost just one wicket in getting to 71 and England had half a shout.

23:30 Day 3 last time out in Brisbane. We’d been skittled. Warner and Clarke made tons, set us five hundred and plenty, and we were two down at the close, including Johnson getting Trott. Meanwhile Shiny Toy and Lovejoy are on the screen together, with the latter saying Woakes’s shot is “the worst of the Ashes so far”. My eyes roll.

23:42 The KP ESPN advert is drivel. He’s becoming a worrisome parody.

23:57 Game ready to resume, darker clouds above, James Anderson bowling, Dmitri on the keyboard for a bit. Danny is awake, and the first ball of the day goes for two.

0:00 No, not a clue.

0:02 Broad at the other end. Gilchrist finding out bantz with Boycs isn’t a long-term plan. Marsh square cuts Broad for four to get off to decent start.

00:07 Boycott getting on my nerves already. OK, we get your point. We don’t need to hear it every ball you frightful old bore. Marsh gets three behind point and completes a half century. Not sure why people thought he was a dodgy selection. He’s hit and miss, I know, but he does hit.

00:17 Anderson gets Smith to woosh at a shot outside off stump. First legit play and miss today? Meanwhile a usual suspect on Twitter goes all pseuds corner re Adam Gilchrist. It’s me. I find it if I was an ice cream I’d lick myself stuff. 175 for 4.

00:21 WICKET – Out of the blue Marsh checks a drive and lobs up a catch to Anderson at mid-off for 51. Broad gets the wicket, Marsh looks at the pitch with some disgust implying it held up for him. Marsh, Caught Anderson, Bowled Broad 51 – 175 for 5

00:24 Broad induces a thick edge from Paine, but no hint of a chance. Paine looks edgy, trying to push a single the following ball. Wicket maiden completed.

00:31 Woakes on for Broad after his wicket maiden. New ball due soon so sort of understand it, but isn’t the moment now? Woakes gives up a single to Smith first up, but then keeps Paine on 0 for the remainder. Vaughan does the Lehmann has scored a ton more recently than Paine stat as if no-one has heard of it. Jake Ball into the attack.

00:37 Jake Ball gives Smith a cracking ball at his throat and the captain is lucky to survive as the ball drops into no man’s land. He gets off strike with a single next ball. Paine gets a chance and plays a lovely cut shot for 4 to get off the mark.

00:43 Woakes and Ball now bowling short to Smith and Paine. It’s dull to watch, there’s funky field placings, and this sort of thing gets the pundits salivating. Smith, despite that one iffy little moment, really looks like he doesn’t give a toss. “Test match cricket at it’s finest”. Cut out the bloody hyperbole, Shiny Toy.

00:48 No slips. I can hear Botham chuntering. Shiny Toy moans about Aussie papers not being balanced. Should have seen the report of your ton in the lead up to the 2002 Ashes, Vaughan. They belted you for being rubbish, scratchy, all over the shop.

00:50 5 minutes to The Leg Glance. And we have Lovejoy. Says something to do with Bodyline. I want to cave my ears in for hearing it. Poor Alison Mitchell. Now a Tufnell joke story. Lord heaven above. Doing a Tuffers impression. Paine moves on to 6 during this low-grade variety act masquerading as cricket punditry.

00:55 And as Lovejoy completes his first over by at last concentrating on the action, I complete my stint and hand over to the incomparable Leg Glance for the next however long he stays awake period. Dmitri signing off…

01:00 TLG here.  Well now, in common with half the country, Friday night is “wander to the pub night”, and you know what?  Ashes cricket is made for that – head out, amble back, turn the cricket on.  Oh and then England take a wicket a few moments later.  Perfect.

Since you ask (you haven’t) the chicken wings were fabulous.  Oh yes, cricket, I should mention that.  So far Tim Paine is failing to go anywhere, while Steve Smith is clearly going to be That Player England Can’t Get Out this series.

01:05 I need to point out the total absence of any cricket when I’ve been on writing duties so far.  If there’s a tropical downpour in the next 10 minutes, don’t be at all surprised.  So, where are we?  England are keeping decent control here, but they could really do with another wicket to put Australia under real pressure.  I’d fancy England would be thrilled with a lead of 50. Especially given Australia have to bat last – but 5 wickets down means a lot of work to do, and the naturally pessimistic England fan has the phrase “tits up” going through his (Or her.  Hmm, on reflection it probably just is “his”) head.

01:13 Graeme Swann and Alison Mitchell on commentary together is like listening to Joe Pasquale and Eric Morecambe doing a double act.

01:18 Joe Root slips in for an over as England await the new ball.

01:24 WICKET! Anderson strikes in the first over with the new ball.  A typical Jimmy dismissal really, a touch of swing, the outside edge, and Bairstow does the rest.  Tim Paine on his way, and it’s 202-6. 100 between the teams.

01:30 WICKET!  Broad nabs a sharp caught and bowled to remove Starc for 6.  Doesn’t even begin to describe it as two balls before the latest assorted Mitchell plays an extraordinary shot – straight driving Broad back over his head for six to get off the mark.  Broad got his revenge quickly, so the Brisbane crowd will thoroughly appreciate that no doubt.  209-7

01:35 England had kept the lid on nicely this morning, but hadn’t looked especially threatening, at least not until the new ball.  Then two quick wickets and all of a sudden it’s all happening.  Smith is still there though, and while he is England still have a problem.  While we’re at it, Australia are scoring at 2.52 an over, compared to boring negative England’s 2.58 an over.  We all love the Brisbane Courier Mail.

01:48 Steve Smith is playing a completely different game to anyone else.

01:57 Some concern over James Anderson.  He certainly reached for his side, and he’s been replaced by Jake Ball after a short spell.  He’s not gone off the field, but there are only  a few minutes to lunch.

02:01 And that’s lunch.  Australia are 213-7, still 89 adrift.  And perhaps the most notable thing about this match so far is that unlike the last two series, we’re into day three and we don’t know where this game is going.  It’s competitive, hard Test cricket.  Marvellous.  Steve Smith scored just 17 off 66 balls that session, while losing partners at the other end.  England get loads of stick for bowling “dry” but sometimes it’s exactly what is needed, and that was fine bowling.

02:09 My travel advice is to steal the mini-duvets off Emirates.  They’re so warm.

02:16  Just the 48 runs in that session.  Test cricket, absolutely.  Amusing given Australian whining about England’s run rate?  Oh yes.

02:17 Typically in a Test match, the side batting second need to have a runs advantage going into the second innings.  So England are currently in a very decent position.  If they can get a reasonable lead, especially so.  But equally the third innings of the match is full of pressure, for a side can lose the game in a session.  How this pitch will play is as open a question as it was on day one, for if it gets better then England have an issue.  If it gets worse then Australia have a crisis.  And how good is it not to know?  Test cricket.  You jut cannot beat it.

02:40 Jake Ball opens up after lunch.  Not exactly putting to bed those James Anderson fitness concerns.

02:47

Not sure what’s more unlikely – England fibbing or the English cricket press being cynical about what they’re told.

02:55 Let’s call this a quiet start to the afternoon session.

03:03 Aside from 4 overthrows via Cummins’ back (accidental), and one Steve Smith straight drive, it’s still quiet so far.  But not terribly threatening from England either.  It might be time for Moeen.

03:06 I’m a captaincy God.  The Bearded Brummie is on.

03:13 England have let Cummins play himself in.  Danger.  In other news, the Rugby League World Cup semi-final is little over an hour away – the titanic battle between England and Tonga to decide who has the privilege of being stuffed by Australia.

03:23 Australia aren’t exactly rattling along, but this partnership is becoming  problem.  The gap is now down to 61, and England simply don’t look like taking a wicket.  Smith is closing in a 100 and looks serene, and Cummins looks secure. Anderson has gone off the ground – for bowling boots?  Let’s hope.

03:29 Anderson is back on the field.  And that’s my lot too – handing over to Danny who hasn’t seen the sun in several days.

0331 Danny here. Sad and almost completely true comments from thelegglance. Almost an hour after lunch, Broad finally gets the ball back.

0336 And Anderson from the other end, all eyes looking to see if there’s any sign of injury from the highest rated Test bowler in the world.

0352 Still nothing to report, although Broad & Anderson have at least kept it tighter than the other bowlers. The ball is now 25 overs old and I worry about England finishing off the tail…

0403 Smith drives through the off side for four, and brings up his century. That’s his 21st century, and his 6th against England.

0417 Still awake. Still no wickets in the session.

0431 WICKET About 10 minutes left in the session, and England finally take a wicket. Cummins plays a loose drive to a wide, full ball from Woakes and he edges it to Cook at first slip. A very useful 42 runs from the Australian bowler, and Hazlewood comes in.

0442 TEA Australia are 287/8, just 15 runs behind with 2 wickets remaining, and crucially with Smith still at the crease.

0518 Quiet start to the evening session, 7 runs from the first 4 overs and England’s lead is just 8 runs.

0528 WICKET Moeen Ali bowls left-hander Josh Hazlewood, who was trying to hit it on the leg side but completely missed it. Australia 298/9 and 4 runs behind England’s score.

0539 Smith whips a short delivery from Jake Ball to the fine leg boundary and Australia go into the lead.

0605 WICKET In the first over after the drinks break Root is bowling to Lyon, who inside edges a ball to leg slip. Smith finishes the innings on 141* and Australia have 328 runs with a lead of 26 runs.

0630 WICKET Hazlewood bowls a quick bouncer to Alastair Cook, who top edges it to Starc at long leg. England are still 15 runs behind.

0642 WICKET And Vince has gone as well, squared up on the back foot by a quick Hazlewood delivery and edging it to Smith at second slip. England still 9 runs behind, and 2 wickets gone.

0649 Fast bouncer from Mitchell Starc and it hits Joe Root on the helmet, breaking a piece off. England’s doctor comes out and gives him the concussion test, but Root dons a new helmet and carries on.

0713 Root turns Lyon behind square for a single, and THE SCORES ARE LEVEL with England already 2 wickets down.

0720 Cummins works Stoneman over with an over of short bowling, 10 minutes left for England to hold on.

0732 STUMPS England survive the last over against Nathan Lyon, and finish the day on 33/2 with a lead of just 7 runs.

Ashes 1st Test Review – Day 1

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First of all, I hope you enjoyed the live blog. A special thanks to Danny who stayed up the whole night to bring you his wry observations on the second half of the day’s play. A magnificent effort. I lasted until lunch….

Having watched the highlights and listened to the varying feedback from punters and journos, yes, journos is that the view is we are very evenly placed. 196 for 4, in 80 overs does not, on the face of it, set the pulses racing, but it was a pretty intense, but somewhat odd opening day. England were thankful that Stoneman, and perhaps more surprisingly Vince, stood up to be counted. In the opening session the Surrey/Durham man showed the same aptitudes he had for his county – he has great temperament and has an impression of technical solidity. He can be much more fluent – I saw him make a magnificent 180+ against the county champions this year – but he did a great job. That ton may still be elusive but we were glad to have him today.

James Vince was the surprise, and if the England management genuinely thought this would happen, they can give me the lottery numbers. Vince played his lovely shots, we know he has those, but seemed a little more selective, waiting for the fuller length at times. I saw him up to lunch, although he struggled a little against Lyon, he was just what England needed. Well done, James. The shame, of course, was the suicide run that stopped him getting to a century. Let’s hope he doesn’t live to regret that.

Malan and Moeen will need to get through the new ball before we can start feeling as though we are in with a decent shout. Bairstow and Woakes will follow with the tail being a little more of concern. If England post a 350+ score they are well in the game, but we’ll only be able to judge when we bowl on it. If England do this despite the failures of Cook and Root, it will be a massive boost. 196 for 4 is neither here nor there. Remembering back to Adelaide in 2002, we finished that day at around 280 for 4, and collapsed in a heap. Brisbane in 2010 saw the Aussies five down for not a lot and then Hussey and Haddin put on 300! Many games, many ways. It’s why we watch.

Over the years we have been accused, well I have, of running an anti-Cook blog. It has to be said that our record run scorer does divide opinion, and neither side has the monopoly on accuracy. But there are some stats that stand out for me. As much as his fans revel in his 2010/11, that magnificent one series does not erase what has happened since. In 30 innings since his 180-odd in Sydney he has not posted a hundred. Now, in innings against the two premier pace attacks in the past six years (Australia and South Africa), Cook has an average of less than 30 in 27 test matches, with the one hundred (back in 2012). There has been a lot of responsibility, and not a little praise, heaped upon Cook in advance of this test, but the anticipation of a successful series is based more on the hope than on the expectation. I, once again, must stress, that of course he should be in the team. His dismissal today was something that could happen to any batsman early in a test innings. But when does this become a worrying trend?

And then there is the skipper. He looked a little out of sorts. Until Root makes test runs in Australia there has to be a little bit of doubt – 207 in 9 innings at an average at just over 25, with one score over 26, is a little blemish on his record, albeit with a small sample size. It’s early days, of course it is, but his dismissal plonking his leg in front of off stump and being beaten by Cummins was not something we are that used to. One game, one innings, but again, a little trend that he could do well arresting. His 87 in Adelaide last time out will need to be repeated, and then some.

I wasn’t overly impressed by the Aussies much vaunted pace attack. I have to say I didn’t get to see a lot of Cummins, but many have said how well he bowled. The dismissals seem to vindicate that. Lyon got the ball to turn on Day 1, which might interest Moeen who likes a little bounce in a wicket (and some of Lyon’s balls got some of that) and the pitch is due to speed up according to our pundits. Hazlewood wasn’t anything to write home about, and Starc flattered to deceive. The wicket wasn’t quite what was expected, but this was hardly trial by fire that we were promised.

I think I’ll reserve judgement on BT Sport’s coverage. Except Lovejoy. BT Sport will have to live with giving this man a commentary gig. The two sessions I endured were teeth-itching. He need strong direction from a producer to stop the laddish bantz, the smart arse one liners, and the desire to be the wittiest in the room and do what he’s being paid to do – commentate on the game. Swann always came off as the sort who fell in love the moment he looked in the mirror, and who thought the funniest person was himself. Shiny Toy has a lot of issues with commentary (conflict of interest, the fact it isn’t radio) and BT have got to stop it becoming the Michael Vaughan Show, but Lovejoy just inspires anger around these parts, and beyond. That’s a dangerous combination. I saw many say how much they miss Athers, Nasser, Michael Holding et al, but do you really miss Bumble, Botham and Gower? Really. A pale comedy act, this generation’s Trueman but without the research, and a former rebel turned Establishment stooge who has mailed it in for a few years now? As a debut, BT did OK. They’ve just set a low ceiling, and they are lumbered with Lovejoy – it’s not as if they weren’t warned.

Not sure what we’ll do tonight, but I imagine we’ll do a live blog on the 1st session tomorrow night (Friday), weather permitting.

Comments on tonight either below, or in a live blog if we set one up.

Dmitri.

A Dmitri Ashes Memory – Brisbane 2002

Ashes

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 Wotif.com 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.