The Steve Rixon Ashes Diary – Chapter 7

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Chapter 7

Watto’s century, fast bowler injuries and wee wees

The Fifth Test: The Oval

Me: Mate, long time no talk how are you?

Steve Rixon: Yeah not bad you little runt. I’m just glad the Ashes is over, It’s been a long tour and we’ve still got more to come. Shane Watson, the Enigma, managed to make this Test all about himself with his 176. There were cheers on the balcony when he finally reached triple figures for just eh third time in 50 tests. But they were quickly subsided when the guys realised all they were going to hear about from Watto for the next month would be his century. When Watto reached 150 I think there were a few tears in the dressing room as the guys realised he’d probably just booked his spot on the next Ahses tour in 2015. By the way why the fuck are we touring England again for 5 tests in just two year time? Ashes tours are every four years. I’m not sure if the powers that be realise that scheduling too many Ashes series will kill the public’s enthusiasm. Just look how over doing the one dayers has dulled interest in that format. Anyway when Watto was finally dismissed for 176 there was some applause from the guys as we were all quite happy he’d missed a double ton – we would never have heard the end of that!

How good am I? Shane Watson's century brought mixed reactions
How good am I? Shane Watson’s century brought mixed reactions

Steve Smith played well for his maiden test century, I never thought he’d last that long at the crease. I thought he’d get exhausted from all his fidgeting between balls to stay out their long enough to manage a hundred. He’s got some good qualities, he’s not the prettiest to watch, or most technically correct but he applies himself, puts away bad balls and makes runs. It’s amazing what can happen when two of your top 6 make centuries – we made over 450 in our first innings.

The other batsmen have been a bit of a mixed bag. People keep asking me why we haven’t picked some older heads like Simon Katich, George Bailey , David Hussey or Adam Voges in this Ashes squadto strengthen our batting. Well we picked our veterans of the line up: Rogers, Clarke and Haddin and tried to intersperse those with the players of the future aged 24-26 years old, the likes of Phil Hughes Dave Warner, Usman Khawaja, Steve Smith, Matthew Wade. If we can get these guys playing together and working as a unit they will be the core of our Test batting line up for the next 10 years. People forget that Justin Langer, Matthew Hayden and Damien Martyn were all dropped multiple times and each time they came back stronger that this trio didn’t hit their best until they were 29 years old and above. I’m sure you don’t need me to remind you how much of a painfully gritty grinder Langer was in his mid 20s or how Haydo’s footwork resembled two railway sleepers tied together with a piece of rope in his younger days.

A perfect example of this improvement is my old mate Boony, at 25 year old on the 1985 tour he only managed 124 runs at 17.71 and was dropped. But when he returned as a 29 year old in 1989 he peeled off 442 runs at 63.1 and four years later in 1993 managed 555 runs at 69.37. All we need to do is get Invers and Rod Marsh to have a little more patience and back in these players a little more, remember it took Steve Waugh 26 tests to make his first test ton. We should see the rewards – at least 3 of those guys should become 70 test players.

The Austrlian fast bowlers: only Siddel and Faulkner were fit by the end of the Ashes
The serious face of Australian fast bowling: only Siddle and Faulkner were fit by the end of the Ashes

James Faulkner was impressive in his test debut with 6 wickets. He’s got a bit of an aggressive streak and plenty of confidence but he backs it up. I guess coming off a solid base of three season’s of quality output in the Sheffield Shield will stand you in good stead for Test cricket. Funny about that…

It’s lucky Faulkner did Ok because the bowlers have been dropping like flies all tour. Of course J-Pat had already been sent home with his stress fractures in his back. Starcy proper stuffed his back too with a similar injury, then, Mr Intensity, Jackson Bird did the same thing opening up an old fast bowling war wound – you guessed it a stress fracture in the back. Ashton Agar got a virus and went home and Steve Smith hurt his thigh in the last test and he’s jetted home too. But unluckiest of all has to be Ryan Harris.Gee that bloke is unlucky, if it was raining Elle McPhersons he’d get hit by Molly Meldrum. After the last days play he was reaching for a beer from the esky after the test had finished and pulled his hammy. Just plain unlucky! Ryano was easily our best bowler and really made some of the England bats uncomfortable, let’s just hope we can keep him on the park.

I wish Tank Karpinnen, our strength and conditioning guy and a former fast bowler too boot, would focus more of his attention on keeping our bowlers on the field. Tank seems to preoccupied with juicing and with getting Boof Lehmann onto a juice only diet. He is obsessed with juicing everything and he’s even brought his own juice, the Turbo Max 3000, on tour with him so he can, in his own words, “smash down as many soluble vitamins as possible in the shortest period of time” Odd unit Tank, I wish he’d focus on getting the players “cricket fit” and not worry about their soluble vitamin intake.

Celebrations: Hands up who wants to wee on the ground?
Celebrations: Hands up who wants to wee on the ground?

Yeah well the Test match ended in farce really with bad light halting play when there are lights at the ground but for once it worked in our favour as we escaped with a draw. Watching England celebrate at the Oval for the third straight tour was pretty hard to take but overall the England player celebrations were pretty tame really. I mean a bit of a tinkle on the Oval – no biggie. Back in my day when we toured India in 1986 the groundsman use to live at the stadium during a test match, they’d roll out their bedding for the night in the change rooms once the days play was over. After the tied Test in Madras we had a few consolatory beers followed by a few celebratory sherbets for not having lost and a couple of us decided to piss all over the groundsman’s bedding. Yep we pissed on their swags. I’m not proud of it but we did it and we pissed in the fuel tank of their tractor to. Hmmm, those were the days.

Anyway can you put $100 on us to win the one dayers

Me: Sure can, see you mate.

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Ross Slater

Blogging about the important things - AFL and cricket

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