Australia v England, 2nd Test, Adelaide, 3rd day December 5, 2010

Anything but the cricket

As England piled on the runs with a Kevin Pietersen double hundred, the local supporters were grateful for other attractions at the Adelaide Oval
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Adelaide is the best ground in the world for not watching cricket. Barbados and Antigua have their pools, and Perth has its neighbouring race track, but at Adelaide Oval there is lawn and marquees. Which is just as well, because this is a game Australian fans don't want to see.

But if you've bought a ticket or a membership, it's rude not to turn up. So while the Barmy Army was magnetised to every ball aimed at the pads of Kevin Pietersen, thousands of the South Australian members were out the back of their new stand, pretending they were at the races instead of a demolition derby masquerading as a Test match.

"Bring back Warney," one unhappy local said as he sought relief from the torture. Warney was actually in the nets at the time, but he was there batting in a tea-break hitting contest, largely content in retirement. No amount of sponsorship or hair plugs could entice him back to bowl at an enemy that is no longer submissive.

Four summers ago England scored 551 in their first innings and it wasn't enough. This time they have 4 for 551 and already it is plenty, thanks to Australia's inadequate first-innings of 245 and a diligent but ineffective attack. The bowlers ran in, the England batsmen waved them away, and the drinkers in the bars tried to talk about something else.

"Four for 500-and-***ing-20," another disbelieving home supporter slurred. England weren't even close to being finished and only summer rain, with drops the weight of champagne corks, was able to stop the day's carnage. When the weather closed in it was possible to smell the dust which Australia have been ground into over the past three days, or six, if you count Brisbane.

The lawns out the back of the members' area are not as lush as the Nursery End at Lord's, especially after the weekend of heat and trampling, and the crowd is not as genteel. But the bars serve Pimm's, an ideal drink for a regatta, or a wedding, or discussion of anything but cricket. In other tents the sippers enjoyed bottles of Knappstein followed by a nap. Seen one KP boundary, seen them all.

Mitchell Johnson was working in the nets after lunch with his failing bowling coach Troy Cooley. He was disappointed to be dropped, but has been saved another week of punishment. Johnson was used as a fielder, fulfilling his 12th man duties, but even if Australia were allowed another bowler it would not have helped.

Even England supporters who have been through the Down Under disasters of the past two decades were showing restraint. Just like the Australians on the trips over there, I'm sure, in '89, '93, '97 and '01. Mostly it was better to talk about the weather, or the exchange rate, or the oysters, or the match here four years ago, which was being replayed during the rain. Anything but this game, Australia's fast-bowling problems, or Xavier Doherty's inaccuracy.

Have you heard the music out the back? Or visited the beautiful gardens behind the Chappell Stands? What about the new statue of Jason Gillespie, which already has a cup of beer in his left hand? Or have you hidden under an umbrella to escape the heat - and a Pietersen double-century.

At the back of the Western Stand, a big television screen sits on the tray of a truck offering the members a chance to watch if they want to. When Pietersen ran his single to mid-off to bring up his double-century, there was a smattering of applause from those around the tents. They are a knowledgeable lot, the South Australian members, and that's without including the former Test players, such as Greg Blewett, who were in their ranks.

Still, it's possible for them to go a whole day without watching a ball live. On days like this it's hard to blame them. As the Eagles almost sang in Hotel California, "Some drink to remember, some drink to forget". On the grass under the hill, the Barmy Army fans were setting their photographic memories, but out the back in the marquees it was easier to be blind.

Peter English is the Australasia editor of Cricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • anver777 on December 6, 2010, 4:58 GMT

    Aussie fans expects some good cricket from their heroes, but so far Ponting & co have disappointed them very badly......... they know only a miracle inning from somebody can save the match !!!!!!!!!

  • on December 6, 2010, 2:52 GMT

    "Anything but the cricket" -- sounds like the BBC's motto!

  • 5wombats on December 5, 2010, 21:27 GMT

    Quality column by Peter English ! Thank you - this made me laugh a lot. Those of us who are hooked on Ashes contests and have been for most of our lives also understand the total compulsion in watching, win or lose. Ashes cricket is exactly the way The Eagles describe it; "You can check out any time you like - but you can never leave". As for England in this particular game; " They livin' it up at the Hotel California What a nice surprise (what a nice surprise) Bring your alibis". Mmm... I think that sums it up nicely....

  • on December 5, 2010, 18:49 GMT

    Aussies are gone by an inning in 2nd Test. I hope they call Johnson back for 3rd test and lets try out a green top wicket for English batsmen this time,which seems the only way to stop Cook from cooking Aussie bowlers anymore. Aussie should also Call Ph Jeques and St Smith back in side !!!

  • suresh_sksj on December 5, 2010, 16:20 GMT

    looks like Ausies are again going to escape a loss, everytime they are in a losing position the rain gods help them out....remember Chennai few yrs ago...they were on the brink of sure defeat...and sudden showers(unusual for that part of year in Chennai) for half day turned Ausies perfect defeat to a draw....and now...Adelaid weather forcast for the next 2 days are not that great....T.Showers / Showers.....by weather channel

  • Scgboy on December 5, 2010, 15:27 GMT

    i know the feeling ,i cant even bear to watch and just follow it by the ball to ball update, eases the pain just by a little bit.Though down is not out by any means.....

  • on December 5, 2010, 14:29 GMT

    Some dance to remember , some dance to forget

  • on December 5, 2010, 13:23 GMT

    It's 'dance' not 'drink' in HC.

  • Samhar on December 5, 2010, 13:06 GMT

    Peter:

    Excellent piece!

    The actual lines from the Eagles song is "some dance to remember, some dance to forget" though your substitution of drink for dance does not change the import of the lines in your context, except in a literal sense since you referred to a variety of drinks in the piece.

    Sam

  • on December 5, 2010, 11:46 GMT

    or five, if you count Brisbane, not six.

  • anver777 on December 6, 2010, 4:58 GMT

    Aussie fans expects some good cricket from their heroes, but so far Ponting & co have disappointed them very badly......... they know only a miracle inning from somebody can save the match !!!!!!!!!

  • on December 6, 2010, 2:52 GMT

    "Anything but the cricket" -- sounds like the BBC's motto!

  • 5wombats on December 5, 2010, 21:27 GMT

    Quality column by Peter English ! Thank you - this made me laugh a lot. Those of us who are hooked on Ashes contests and have been for most of our lives also understand the total compulsion in watching, win or lose. Ashes cricket is exactly the way The Eagles describe it; "You can check out any time you like - but you can never leave". As for England in this particular game; " They livin' it up at the Hotel California What a nice surprise (what a nice surprise) Bring your alibis". Mmm... I think that sums it up nicely....

  • on December 5, 2010, 18:49 GMT

    Aussies are gone by an inning in 2nd Test. I hope they call Johnson back for 3rd test and lets try out a green top wicket for English batsmen this time,which seems the only way to stop Cook from cooking Aussie bowlers anymore. Aussie should also Call Ph Jeques and St Smith back in side !!!

  • suresh_sksj on December 5, 2010, 16:20 GMT

    looks like Ausies are again going to escape a loss, everytime they are in a losing position the rain gods help them out....remember Chennai few yrs ago...they were on the brink of sure defeat...and sudden showers(unusual for that part of year in Chennai) for half day turned Ausies perfect defeat to a draw....and now...Adelaid weather forcast for the next 2 days are not that great....T.Showers / Showers.....by weather channel

  • Scgboy on December 5, 2010, 15:27 GMT

    i know the feeling ,i cant even bear to watch and just follow it by the ball to ball update, eases the pain just by a little bit.Though down is not out by any means.....

  • on December 5, 2010, 14:29 GMT

    Some dance to remember , some dance to forget

  • on December 5, 2010, 13:23 GMT

    It's 'dance' not 'drink' in HC.

  • Samhar on December 5, 2010, 13:06 GMT

    Peter:

    Excellent piece!

    The actual lines from the Eagles song is "some dance to remember, some dance to forget" though your substitution of drink for dance does not change the import of the lines in your context, except in a literal sense since you referred to a variety of drinks in the piece.

    Sam

  • on December 5, 2010, 11:46 GMT

    or five, if you count Brisbane, not six.

  • jimmyt21 on December 5, 2010, 10:00 GMT

    Well said. Despite the fact that we were thoroughly beaten I had a great day of not watching cricket. The new facilities in the western stand were superb. Catching up with old friends, buying your mates an overpriced beer, collapsing on the garden benches while listening to the cover band, and spotting some former cricketers including Matthew Elliott and Shaun Tait.

    Can't wait to do it again next year.

  • StarveTheLizard on December 5, 2010, 9:54 GMT

    If CA isn't panicing now, I'm sure they will be soon. Oz fans are losing interest. They will lose money if ratings go down and attendance decreases. What fun is there watching this side steadily get worse?

  • on December 5, 2010, 9:31 GMT

    "... an enemy that is no longer subversive"? I think the current England XI is very subversive of Australian cricketing dominance. Or do you mean "submissive"?

  • iconoclastix on December 5, 2010, 8:48 GMT

    Pete..err..It seems Eagles actually said 'Some Dance to remember'. But what is a dance without a drink, and a drink without a dance? :P

    Cheers, Mate!

  • CharlieAlanJakeHarperFamily on December 5, 2010, 8:44 GMT

    Just love australian misery being grinded to each and every possible limits now the rains even cant save aussies from losing this match 50 odd runs tomorrow morning and almost 170 overs to save the match this ain't flat gabba of last two days even xavier is turning them aussies are a worried,inept,incompetent,fragile and vulnerable outfit its almost surreal that aussies have not only had form issues and fitness problems but even selectors are feeling the heat STRIKE THE IRON WHEN ITS RED HOT POMS

  • myhideout on December 5, 2010, 8:43 GMT

    the song actually goes "some DANCE to remember, some dance to forget"

  • on December 5, 2010, 8:35 GMT

    The Most bizarre day in Australian ashes History. Their dominance is now have been floored. They must have now think about their bowling attack as well as think about bowling reserve. I personally think dropping Johnson is big blunder. He only get his confidence back when he is playing. Now only rain can save Aussies.

  • Chickenwire on December 5, 2010, 8:33 GMT

    Subversive... Or... Subservient?

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  • Chickenwire on December 5, 2010, 8:33 GMT

    Subversive... Or... Subservient?

  • on December 5, 2010, 8:35 GMT

    The Most bizarre day in Australian ashes History. Their dominance is now have been floored. They must have now think about their bowling attack as well as think about bowling reserve. I personally think dropping Johnson is big blunder. He only get his confidence back when he is playing. Now only rain can save Aussies.

  • myhideout on December 5, 2010, 8:43 GMT

    the song actually goes "some DANCE to remember, some dance to forget"

  • CharlieAlanJakeHarperFamily on December 5, 2010, 8:44 GMT

    Just love australian misery being grinded to each and every possible limits now the rains even cant save aussies from losing this match 50 odd runs tomorrow morning and almost 170 overs to save the match this ain't flat gabba of last two days even xavier is turning them aussies are a worried,inept,incompetent,fragile and vulnerable outfit its almost surreal that aussies have not only had form issues and fitness problems but even selectors are feeling the heat STRIKE THE IRON WHEN ITS RED HOT POMS

  • iconoclastix on December 5, 2010, 8:48 GMT

    Pete..err..It seems Eagles actually said 'Some Dance to remember'. But what is a dance without a drink, and a drink without a dance? :P

    Cheers, Mate!

  • on December 5, 2010, 9:31 GMT

    "... an enemy that is no longer subversive"? I think the current England XI is very subversive of Australian cricketing dominance. Or do you mean "submissive"?

  • StarveTheLizard on December 5, 2010, 9:54 GMT

    If CA isn't panicing now, I'm sure they will be soon. Oz fans are losing interest. They will lose money if ratings go down and attendance decreases. What fun is there watching this side steadily get worse?

  • jimmyt21 on December 5, 2010, 10:00 GMT

    Well said. Despite the fact that we were thoroughly beaten I had a great day of not watching cricket. The new facilities in the western stand were superb. Catching up with old friends, buying your mates an overpriced beer, collapsing on the garden benches while listening to the cover band, and spotting some former cricketers including Matthew Elliott and Shaun Tait.

    Can't wait to do it again next year.

  • on December 5, 2010, 11:46 GMT

    or five, if you count Brisbane, not six.

  • Samhar on December 5, 2010, 13:06 GMT

    Peter:

    Excellent piece!

    The actual lines from the Eagles song is "some dance to remember, some dance to forget" though your substitution of drink for dance does not change the import of the lines in your context, except in a literal sense since you referred to a variety of drinks in the piece.

    Sam