December 9, 2013
Choice of game
I didn't so much choose this match as had it picked for me. Sally, a friend - also the only girl who has ever wanted to come with me to the cricket - emailed from her now long-time home in the United States with tickets for seats in the new eastern, and yet to be named or fully completed, stand at the 'new' Adelaide Oval. Wow, Father Christmas certainly came early. I must have been good this year?
Before the series started I was resigned to England retaining the Ashes. After the Gabba Test Australia regaining them was a possibility. And after the first three days in Adelaide it seemed a distinct one.
I wasn't rooting for Joe's side, and while I'd prefer an Aussie victory, I wouldn't have minded seeing Captain Cook navigate his way through the some torrid and choppy weather in the Johnson Sea to post a decent personal score. And for sure I had designs on watching my favourite English batsman since David Gower, KP, assert himself again in the City of Churches. But my prayers weren't quite answered, with Cook playing a silly hook shot in the second over and pointlessly running his ship aground. Pietersen wound up and pounded a couple of hefty sixes on the way to a half-century, but his innings ended all too soon for me the viewer, and I suspect, all too soon for the English cause.
The day didn't quite produce a stand-out like Michael Clarke's ritual-like Adelaide Oval century, or Mitchell Johnson's awe-inspiring demolition job on Day 3, but a couple of performances were more worthy of note than others: Root's patient, composed and steady half-century deserved to go on for longer; Peter Siddle may not have received the fervent crowd support offered to Johnson and his handlebar moustache, but his two wickets for next to nothing were as important as any taken today. A day when wickets and runs both took some real getting.
One thing I'd have changed about the day
Like they're trained to do, I'd give the umpires the job of calling a front foot no-ball real-time. I am not a fan of every dismissal being followed by a tennis-style foot-fault review, while the batsmen lingers limply awaiting his fate. Some today were clearly now no-balls - so what are the umpires looking at? I'd dock their pay for every call they should have made and not had reviewed.
And as Matt Prior came in, clearly unsure of himself, his batting and his chances for Perth, I would have brought Johnson straight back into the attack. Clarke, for all his so-touted bowling change nous, missed a trick there.
Filling the gaps
During the lunch and tea breaks I chomped down my home-made shredded barbecue chook salad and continued reading George Orwell's 'Road to Wigan Pier' - an engrossing journalistic take on industrial England, class divisions and exploration of socialism.
When Michael Carberry hooked, again mindlessly, as with Cook's dismissal, toward the southern end of the eastern stand, right in front of where I was seated, Nathan Lyon, a favourite of mine, made good ground moving square from fine leg and took a neat, low catch. The crowd, including me, rose up and went mental.
Chris 'Buck' Rogers spent a fair amount of time on the boundary near me, and amongst a few 'give us a wave' (to which he complied) requests, one punter implored his captain to 'give Bucky a bowl'. Humble Chris waved down this suggestion and fielded on.
Shot of the day
A long thumping six by KP off Steve Smith caught by a fella in the crowd. He was duly cheered for his effort, as was KP.
The crowds throughout the game had been in the low to mid 30,000s range, and today fell in there also at about 33,500. For me, a long time attender, they were big numbers, though there were empty seats despite the 'sold out' claims. That said, plenty of Members never take a seat to watch play and sit out the back and enjoy their bottled beers and fancy food. Lucky ducks.
Fancy dress index
The fancy dress front was disappointing, barely raising the index needle, with only a couple of Yuletide-themed goers sporting Christmas tree hats with red balls for decoration. And I spotted only one painted face - that of a little Pommie supporting girl. I assumed the paint would've finished up streaked by tears later in the day.
The lunch break featured the traditional Milo sponsored kids cricket, to keep people amused watching five-year olds whack it around.
Peppered through the day were Ashes based quiz questions on the big TV screen. Not to sound too big headed, but I knew most of them. Attending alone though I figured I'd sound like a jerk if I announced the answer to those around having not said a word elsewise. Thus my knowledge went unacknowledged. Life's tough.
Late in the day the new 'Ashes Pashes' up on the big screen filled in the last drinks break. This is a take on the US sports 'Kiss Cam' where the camera focuses on two people, hopefully a couple, and they are encouraged by an announcer and the cheering crowd to pash on. Most people on camera joined in, though some were less keen than others.
Tests v limited overs
I love the Test matches most of all. I feel tough rocking up day after day, facing 90 overs of hard to endure hot weather and tiring cricket. Then I realise I've been on my bum and eating all that time unlike the players.
Along with my book, notepad, pencil and ear-hooked radio thingy (now popular at matches) and being resentful of the crazy prices to be paid for food I could 'make better at home' I took my lunch, as mentioned, as well as muesli bars and fruit (grapes, plum, apple), a big bottle of water and orange Gatorade (because that's what cricketers drink after all).
Hard not to compare this day with those action-packed ones preceding, however, it was a reversion to the grinding-out cricket that makes Test matches real tests of patience and skill, particularly evidenced by Root's rearguard batting and Siddle's tight bowling.
The crowd was involved all day, mostly the Aussie contingent - the Barmy Army were markedly quieter than in their pomp, with only a blow or two on the trumpet and hardly any beer-fuelled choral numbers on the Hill. Poor Poms. At least the weather's got to be better down here than back home? But with rain a big chance for day 5, and potentially England's best shot to be it's saviour, perhaps I shouldn't be so cocky?
Marks out of 10
Could have tingled the senses a little bit more, but 8 out of 10 is still a good score.
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