December 20, 2010

Ashes

Rah rah England

Andy Zaltzman

The Confectionery Stall Perth Test Diary. Written in London, from in front of a television

Mitchell Johnson was named Man of the Match for his all-round display, Australia v England, 3rd Test, Perth, 4th day, December 19, 2010
Mitchell Johnson looks on in stoical horror as a mythical unnameable evil flying beast bears down on him, thereby brightening England’s prospects in Melbourne  © Getty Images
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Day 1 England rampaged to within a millimetre of Ashes victory today, obliterating the Australians for a paltry 268 and then blasting their magnificent, golden-tinged way to an imposing 29 for 0 at close of play. If the Australian cricket team were the Labrador they have always dreamed of being, they would have been taken to a vet and humanely destroyed.

As England progress serenely to their inevitable triumph, there is an unusual feeling amongst England fans. This Ashes has been like watching a lion toying with a zebra-print balloon. Yes, you can still admire the majesty of the great beast, but it would be more interesting to see him decimate a worthier foe than the zebralloon.

Their imminent crushing victory will be so conclusive, routine and majestic as to become rather boring, and not a little awkwardly embarrassing. And the dark, dark Ashes years of 1989-2003 and 2006-07 are receding into the murky swamp of history, as if being tugged underneath by an unusually peckish shark.

Day 2 Morning session: A characteristically brilliant start by Cook and Strauss, surely now England’s greatest-ever pair of men, has put England in total, unremitting command of this game. Australia’s bowlers seem more likely to find the Pope hiding in Ricky Ponting’s kitbag than they do to take a wicket. In fact, it is all so one-sided, predictable and uninteresting that I think I’ll pop off for a quick snooze. I’ll just think of Geoff Marsh batting, that should do the zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz.

Afternoon session: Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz zzzz zzzzzzzzzzz. Zzzz zzzzzzzzzz zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz.

Evening session: That was a good snooze. Hilfenhaus still has not taken a wicket since the first over of the series. Would you believe that? Phil Hughes looks all over the place. Ricky Ponting couldn’t hit an egg in a chicken enclosure at the moment. Finn should pitch it up a bit more. I can’t believe India played so poorly in South Africa – are these supposedly top-class batsman completely devoid of skill against the moving ball? England must be at least No. 2 in the world rankings now.

Day 3 I wonder what happens if you try to eat a sandwich whilst having a shower?

Day 4 It’s nearly Christmas. Yippee. Sounds like Ricky Ponting will have to play on with a broken finger. Ouch. Nothing is going right for him this series.

I’m taking the family to Rome tomorrow. I wonder if we’ll be able to catch the end of day five at the airport on the way out? Let’s hope so.

Andy Zaltzman is a stand-up comedian, a regular on the BBC Radio 4, and a writer

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Posted by BlackCapsFan on (December 28, 2010, 10:35 GMT)

loved it! Some of the comments are poor, I guess genuine wit is underappreciated by the lower sections of the common denominator

Posted by tom on (December 28, 2010, 10:27 GMT)

Andy, My fav cricketing rock star! With journalism like this - who needs critics!! GREAT stuff always!

Posted by RayJ on (December 22, 2010, 8:55 GMT)

Funny, when I think of Geoff Marsh I think of a guy who didnt give his wicket away. Crease occupation. A bit of a poor man's Boycott and invaluable to the rebirth of Aus cricket. Hells teeth, even Chris Tavare couldnt make me sleep through a test match. Surely even for you to endure the 5-0's at West Indian and Aus hands brought you some pleasure? Lamb, Pieterson/Collingwood? And now we have the chance to see if your green and pleasant Englishmen (?) can shake off their statistical mediocraty and beat a disjointed Aus team in Aus. Its hardly battle of the giants, but it rarely is. What it is, is Aus v Pom. To dream with your eyes shut when it is game on - is just not cricket.

Posted by NALINWIJ on (December 22, 2010, 6:33 GMT)

Interesting article depicting the regression to psychotic denial by the long suffering English fan.

Posted by B Alexander on (December 22, 2010, 0:42 GMT)

prior to the Ist test b/w south africa & India, negative comments were made about tendulars christmas blues. I have not seen any positive comments from you after tendulars 50th century.care to comment Andy

Posted by Revington on (December 21, 2010, 19:15 GMT)

Come on. One of the worst articles written. Fine you support England but by posting such an article you do the biggest disservice to the heroic exploits of M. johnson and haris . Jhonson especially after being pillored in the press deserved some words of praise. And Harris? Man the guy is battling a debilitating knee condition and putting his body on the line and all you can do is ignore it?

What to say but like numerous articles of mine you will censor this and not post it.

Posted by jamie on (December 21, 2010, 19:03 GMT)

Even if England do lose this series, at least we will be able to take solace in being able to appreciate articles of this nature, some of the comments from Australian fans are as basic as they come, you would have thought after years of England fans coming to watch Cricket in Australia you would understand the use of irony, no wonder beating you in 2005 and 2009 felt so good. The great thing is your players already think you have won back the Ashes, Harris says you have the edge, let's see where the fans are on the last day if England are set to win at the MCG, that is why everyone loves the Australian Cricket team!................................

Posted by Alex C on (December 21, 2010, 10:08 GMT)

Enjoy Rome - we spent a happy family Christmas there a couple of years ago. I don't know where you can watch the boxing day test - the Italians are notoriously uncaring when it comes to cricket, but Enoteca Antica - Via della Croce, 76, 00187 Roma, is awesome especially the mixed bruschetta (fungi is the best) and a glass of Amarone. Nom. Cheers Alex p.s. Both sides have surely shown how capable they are now. If we can't deliver a 4-0 pasting I'll take an exciting series.

Posted by Andrew on (December 21, 2010, 7:46 GMT)

Of course we're in denial. That's the whole point. It's satire. (Look it up). Loved it but just wish I could truly forget that Test match.

Posted by D.V.C. on (December 21, 2010, 4:12 GMT)

I think someone is in denial.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Andy Zaltzman
Andy Zaltzman was born in obscurity in 1974. He has been a sporadically-acclaimed stand-up comedian since 1999, and has appeared regularly on BBC Radio 4. He is currently one half of TimesOnline's hit satirical podcast The Bugle, alongside John Oliver. Zaltzman's love of cricket outshone his aptitude for the game by a humiliating margin. He once scored 6 in 75 minutes in an Under-15 match, and failed to hit a six between the ages of 9 and 23. He would have been ideally suited to Tests, had not a congenital defect left him unable to play the game to anything above genuine village standard. He writes the Confectionery Stall blog on Cricinfo.

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