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After 101 days, across eight cities, in the 18th match at the ninth and final venue, England had Jade Dernbach to direct their frothing anger upon
Vithushan Ehantharajah at Stadium Australia
February 2, 2014
After 101 days, across eight cities, in the 18th match at the ninth and final venue, England had a tattooed trickster to direct their frothing anger upon. If you are an England fan, just be glad it is over.
There was a moment in this game where Jade Dernbach had bowled well. Saved till the 10th over, his two overs on the bounce featured the odd variation here and there. He refrained from bowling a different one every ball as he took a five over break having conceded just 12 runs.
His third over went for a more expensive 11, but seven of those runs came after he should have had a wicket. An onrushing Ravi Bopara slowed, continued, then slowed again and, finally, dived for a catch off Matthew Wade which touched the sky but barely left the ring, after Dernbach dolled up a slower-ball. A smart piece of bowling that deserved more.
Then it happened.
You could sense something in the Stadium Australia air, and it wasn't the hum of imminent success. There was no echo of starter's shot before a suited-up Cathy Freeman completed a lap of this very stadium to claim 400m gold in the 2000 Olympics. Nor was there the call from Jonny Wilkinson, alerting Matt Dawson of his whereabouts for a right-footed kick at goal during extra time of the 2003 Rugby World Cup.
This was more like the belch that warns you that you are on the cusp of redecorating a pavement with the contents of your guts. George Bailey took guard, looking to greedily improve Australia's 6 for 169. Dernbach, full of pep and fresh from spraying Cameron White with invective, would bowl the last over. It had the feel of Good versus Evil - and only one of the two protagonists was fresh-armed and chiselled like a Disney prince.
It is too brutal to talk through the next six balls. If this was a film, it would have switched temporarily to black and white, such was the battery. "Four-Six-Six-Four-Four-Two" was how it read; 26 runs to take Australia to 195.
Bailey's exploits were subject to yet another Cricket Australia picture tweet - a gloating look at the day's play which, while a smart take on social media, has only served to plumb the "Times New Roman" font to "Comic Sans" depths of naffness. The day "Cambria Math" is subject to similar treatment will be a very dark one indeed.
As for Dernbach, his last over drubbing, which took his tally for the series to 11 overs, 1 for 141, had him trending on Twitter in the UK. If he has any sense, he'll avoid checking his mentions for the time being. Maybe just shut it down entirely. He was also left the ignominy of being the last man to go - run out, lost halfway down the track, like a nun in an orgy.
Nearly 50,000 were on hand to witness this 12th Australia win. If this tour were 101 days more, the crowds would still roll in. This isn't a country that gets bored with winning, especially when it is England that are doing the losing.
The limited-overs leg has been the victory parade many hoped it wouldn't. Weary English cricketers were dragged to every corner of this vast country like Victorian truants. On display in stocks, they took pails of water, rotten fruit and mud pies in the face. In a matter of hours they return home, hoping none of it stuck. How could it not?
In a boxing match, a trainer throws in the towel. In tennis, a feigned recurrence of a chronic injury also allows respite with minimal loss of dignity or respect. Somehow, by staying the course, England's cricketers seem to have been robbed of both.
Channel Nine, a hub of shameless bias and flappy-lipped nonsense masquerading as punditry, has given the press box an unwelcome soundtrack. They have enjoyed Australia's success more than anyone. Michael Slater's cackled laugh will haunt many a dream from now until the sweet release of death.
One man who has been here from the start but has worn it better than most is Stuart Broad. Today he bowled well, taking the wickets of Glenn Maxwell, Brad Hodge and Dan Christian. As the form bowler, should he have saved himself for the death? Perhaps. The manner of England's defeat - their joint second-worst featuring their lowest T20 total against Australia - saves him the trouble of addressing that valid query.
It's hard to see Broad first-hand and not be impressed by him. Prior to the news of Andy Flower stepping down as England team director, Broad was engaging and humorous, despite coming off the back of his third series defeat in a month.
His arrival to the crease at 98 for 8 saw him greeted by a cacophony of boos for one last time. They will miss him now that he is gone and, who knows, he might even miss them a little bit. It has been that sort of tour.
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
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