Ashes December 20, 2010

Rah rah England

Andy Zaltzman watches the Perth Test with eyes wide shut
35

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

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

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • 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

  • tom on December 28, 2010, 10:27 GMT

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

  • 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.

  • NALINWIJ on December 22, 2010, 6:33 GMT

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

  • 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

  • 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.

  • 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!................................

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • D.V.C. on December 21, 2010, 4:12 GMT

    I think someone is in denial.

  • 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

  • tom on December 28, 2010, 10:27 GMT

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

  • 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.

  • NALINWIJ on December 22, 2010, 6:33 GMT

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

  • 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

  • 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.

  • 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!................................

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • D.V.C. on December 21, 2010, 4:12 GMT

    I think someone is in denial.

  • Aby on December 21, 2010, 2:58 GMT

    This doesn't make any sense at all!

  • Country Lad on December 21, 2010, 1:23 GMT

    Ah yes, typical pommy. Almost time to airbrush this series too. Says it all really about the Poncy pom approach. Its ok to win but never give any credit to the other especially when they do you in. disguise it with a form of humour pretending you dont really care when you absolutely hate losing especially to us, your more successful brother.

  • Parth on December 21, 2010, 1:15 GMT

    absolutely hilarious!!!!! can't wait to hear what you say about england losing again in melbourne.

  • TMG on December 21, 2010, 1:14 GMT

    One of your wittiest. How come no comments so far?

  • John on December 21, 2010, 0:40 GMT

    Lazy 'comedy'. Make an effort champ! Enlgand are as about as fuctional as there transport system; when things get tough they just buckle!

  • kristof on December 20, 2010, 22:01 GMT

    sums up the pommy attitude really. you weak bunch of whingers.

  • Chris Sobolowski on December 20, 2010, 20:36 GMT

    Perhaps one of the greatest examples of Exclusionistic Journaling ever! Right up there with the unfinished "Tales of a Fairly Lengthy Stroll in Bataan", and "Pearl Harbor - A Posh Gig If Ever There Was One".

    Thanks for making writing about cricket even more interesting than really interesting cricket!

    Keep up the good works.

  • Sagar on December 20, 2010, 18:46 GMT

    Summed it up well Andy - zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz....thats what Strauss and Co. did from day 2

  • Anil on December 20, 2010, 16:12 GMT

    Andy, this one is not a comment and you may not want to publish here. How about writing another article mirroring the progression of mood--this time on the first Test between India and RSA? An obvious emphasis would be to look at India's performance (batting on Day 1, fielding/bowling; you could choose to exclude second innings batting) against their being the No. 1 team.

  • Anil on December 20, 2010, 16:07 GMT

    Someone a little literate in statistics will identify the beautiful correlation between the trend of progression of England from day 1 to 5 and the progression of mood here in this article. I sense that this article also depicts the gradual progression of the general English fans during the 5 days towards a state of reclusion. This is brilliant, Andy. Many readers will find this article wanting or incomplete; but it is a masterpiece in par with your other ones. You and your articles are pure poetry--the more you study the deeper you get. Readers should appreciate how difficult it must be to articulate such progressive mood/feelings in words.

  • JFK on December 20, 2010, 14:06 GMT

    Is this meant to be funny?

  • Travis L on December 20, 2010, 12:19 GMT

    Wow.... there's 30 seconds i'll never get back.

    I guess you have to read a load of gabage at some stage to appreciate quality.

  • jayz on December 20, 2010, 12:03 GMT

    is this supposed to be funny?

  • AK on December 20, 2010, 11:43 GMT

    It is called black hmour and the shock of a lifetime!

  • Mark on December 20, 2010, 11:28 GMT

    Andy, I don't wanna surprise you BUT AUSTRALIA SMASHED ENGLAND!!!!

  • james on December 20, 2010, 10:01 GMT

    what? i don't get it. well, actually, i probably do get it, but it's just really not funny.

  • Anand on December 20, 2010, 9:17 GMT

    Hilarious! Nicely done. Best form of blocking I have ever seen. Wish I could block out India's first day performance in SA similarly.

    Andy, Before the start of the ashes, you had done pieces on how England is going to dominate/be terrible, Australia is going to dominate/be terrible etc. You got your wish. Only thing is, instead of dominating/being terrible over a series we have the teams doing it over each test.

  • Xain on December 20, 2010, 8:57 GMT

    Lol! Hahaha! Couldnt stop laughing. I was just wondering what will u come up with after ur last bit was thrashing Australia

  • Sanket on December 20, 2010, 8:53 GMT

    Hahaha... amazing stuff Andy...

  • ferin faisel on December 20, 2010, 8:46 GMT

    Poms should always remember that Aussies are not dead until they are buried.

  • Dr Anurag on December 20, 2010, 8:14 GMT

    you are awesome...........I love your selective oversight........

  • jcta on December 20, 2010, 7:35 GMT

    In case you missed it on your way to Rome, Andy, the series is even, ok!

    Meanwhile, carry on with family responsibilities till Dec. 30 as your inattention is much needed.

  • dawg on December 20, 2010, 6:46 GMT

    un-characteristically bad

  • Marcio on December 20, 2010, 6:32 GMT

    Nice match summary, Andy! You missed a bit, though. I know a good regression therapist who can extract traumatic memories which have been repressed by the subconscious. He tells me he has worked successfully with Holocaust survivors and alien abduction victims. However he is unsure about England supporters. He concedes that he level of cognitive damage and subsequent denial is probably just too much. Some things are best left hidden in the depths of the shadow. Now, what happened in the second test. I can't seem to recall?

  • saurabh on December 20, 2010, 6:18 GMT

    Frankly Speaking, This is one of your best pieces on Ashes, by not writing the obvious, you managed to showcase the sentiments that are running through the English Fan's veins.

    Hope that England puts up a better fight in Melbourne.

    Cheers Saurabh

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  • saurabh on December 20, 2010, 6:18 GMT

    Frankly Speaking, This is one of your best pieces on Ashes, by not writing the obvious, you managed to showcase the sentiments that are running through the English Fan's veins.

    Hope that England puts up a better fight in Melbourne.

    Cheers Saurabh

  • Marcio on December 20, 2010, 6:32 GMT

    Nice match summary, Andy! You missed a bit, though. I know a good regression therapist who can extract traumatic memories which have been repressed by the subconscious. He tells me he has worked successfully with Holocaust survivors and alien abduction victims. However he is unsure about England supporters. He concedes that he level of cognitive damage and subsequent denial is probably just too much. Some things are best left hidden in the depths of the shadow. Now, what happened in the second test. I can't seem to recall?

  • dawg on December 20, 2010, 6:46 GMT

    un-characteristically bad

  • jcta on December 20, 2010, 7:35 GMT

    In case you missed it on your way to Rome, Andy, the series is even, ok!

    Meanwhile, carry on with family responsibilities till Dec. 30 as your inattention is much needed.

  • Dr Anurag on December 20, 2010, 8:14 GMT

    you are awesome...........I love your selective oversight........

  • ferin faisel on December 20, 2010, 8:46 GMT

    Poms should always remember that Aussies are not dead until they are buried.

  • Sanket on December 20, 2010, 8:53 GMT

    Hahaha... amazing stuff Andy...

  • Xain on December 20, 2010, 8:57 GMT

    Lol! Hahaha! Couldnt stop laughing. I was just wondering what will u come up with after ur last bit was thrashing Australia

  • Anand on December 20, 2010, 9:17 GMT

    Hilarious! Nicely done. Best form of blocking I have ever seen. Wish I could block out India's first day performance in SA similarly.

    Andy, Before the start of the ashes, you had done pieces on how England is going to dominate/be terrible, Australia is going to dominate/be terrible etc. You got your wish. Only thing is, instead of dominating/being terrible over a series we have the teams doing it over each test.

  • james on December 20, 2010, 10:01 GMT

    what? i don't get it. well, actually, i probably do get it, but it's just really not funny.