Steve Rixon Ashes Diary 2013: Chapter 14

Chapter 14

The Fifth Test, Sydney Cricket Ground

The Unchangeables, Debutantes and 5-0 Whitewash.

The urn returns
The Unchanged XI with the urn.

Me: Hello, Steve? Are you there? Did I wake you?

Steve Rixon: What do you want you little runt? Do you know what time it is?

Me: It’s 2:15pm

Steve: Ah I see. On what day?

Me: It’s Wednesday.

Steve: Shit!? What the fark happened to Monday & Tuesday? Last thing I remember I had just been esky showered by the boys in the SCG change rooms. That’s the last thing I remember and that was Sunday night…. I think. It’s an oldie but a goodie the old esky shower. It’s origins date back to the 1983/4 tour of the West Indies when we use to throw an esky of ice on the team manager after we’d finished all the beers at the end of a days play. He use to love it, whatever his name was – anyway the tradition lives on.

Another tradition that was great to see was the English team came into the sheds for a chat and share a drink. All of them are actually good blokes, even Stuart Broad, but I did wonder why Keven Peitersen came in with his Ipod headphones in and whenever anyone went up to talk to him said, ‘I can’t hear you, I’ve got headphones in.’ He’s definitely his own man. I got around a few of the Englsih blokes and had  a chat. I was giving Johnny Bairstow a few pointers on wicket keeping, things on feet positinioning, how to catch the ball using gloves and a few other basics such as a keeper should always dive for catches between him and first slip. He was looking at me blankly the whole time and I can only guess he didn’t understand a word of what I was saying or he wasn’t listening. I also punched Michael Carberry in the guts for dropping that dolly from Haddin in Adelaide. I then bet him $50 if I recreated the catch with a stubby, he’d drop it again, sure enough I underarmed him a VB out of the esky and he fluffed it and it smashed on the floor. I don’t think my training techniques would work with the English guys somehow.

The original odd couple: Boof with a VB, Pup with some champers. Both caught well as I threw them out of the esky though
The original odd couple: Boof with a stubbie, Pup with a bottle of champers. Both caught well as I threw their drinks at them from the esky though.

I can’t say some of the other things that happened on Sunday night were traditional. Shit certainly got weird. It started on the podium at the presentations. Clarkey and Sidds were pretty happy to get the replica urn back, I think Sidds was seeing vision of bananas and just wanted to inhale it. Not sure. I knew Clarkey and Sidds were close but yeah.

Surprised team mates look on as Sidds & Pup lock lips around the urn. Siddle: Must resist the urge and just kiss the urn.
Surprised team mates look on as Sidds & Pup lock lips around the urn. Siddle: Must resist the urge and just kiss the urn.

Nathan Lyon and Clarkey are also pretty close, they were like a couple of playful 10 year olds. It’s hard to picture Mark Taylor and Warney doing this but times change I guess.

Nathan Lyon play wrestles with Michael Calrke to get hold of the urn
Nathan Lyon play wrestles with Michael Calrke to get hold of the urn

Anyway that was Sunday night and probably Monday too, I can’t really recall I really do have a hangover of biblical proportions.

Me: Fair enough. What about the Test?

Steve: Well I reckon our celebrations had more effort and concentration put into them than Englands two batting displays: 20 wickets falling in 90.3 balls, just over a days play or a day and a session if you’re the England cricket team. One of my biggest bugbears is slow over rates – it really grinds my gears. And England are the absolute masters at it, slowing the game down for any and every reason under the sun. It’s just about the only thing Alistair Cook is actually good at, his batting is shot a the moment, his captaincy is about as innovative and inspiring as my jocks but the one thing he does do well is pointlessly change the field whilst having long discussions with the bowlers. Stuart Broad is his trusty right hand man in all this caper and has really master the art of timewasting. He got the square of turf replaced in the bowling run up, taking 15 minutes, and then bowled from wider on the crease the next ball and didn’t even run over the new turf! Aaagh, give me strength – what next?

Another delay: Stuart Briad take time out from cricket to audition for Seventh Heaven
Another delay: Stuart Broad take time out from cricket to audition for Seventh Heaven

Gary Balance has obviously been heavily indoctrinated in the time wasting ways. Mitch Johnson badged him and took a full ten minutes for England to get him a new helmet, messing around with grills and stuff. Get on with it! To think this game probably could have been over by Lunch on Day 3 if England could bowl 90 overs in 6 hours of play. One final delay was caused by my mate Carbs having to get a new bat after Ryan Harris broke his. I’m not sure if I’ve told you before but Ryan Harris bowls an incredibly heavy ball and is known as a bat breaker due to the fact that he bowls an unbelievably heavy ball. Now there is proof of just how heavy a ball Ryano bowls.

Another victim of Ryan Harris's incredibly heavy ball.
Michael Carberry’s bat: Another victim of Ryan Harris’s incredibly heavy ball.

Team selection was pretty easy after Invers added Alex Doolan to the squad. Boof rang Doolan to have a chat before he joined the squad and Doolan said he’d be late joining the squad because he’d have to fly back to Tassie to get his red ball cricket bats. Boof told him that if you have to fly interstate to get a cricket bat you might as well stays there but unfortunately Doolan didn’t get the message and he turned up the next day. I asked Invers why he added Doolan to the squad, given his modest returns in Shield cricket and not Hughes, given his prolific runs at Shield level? Invers looked stunned, “My good man,” he said “Hughes retired in 1994.”

Hughes? No, he's not on my list. He's been retired since 1994.
Hughes? No, he’s not on my list. He’s been retired since 1994.

George Baileys spot might be under pressure because his batting isn’t up to Test standard, but he is on world record pace for catching. In 10 Test innings he’s taken 10 catches and dropped another, even the great fielders average about 0.8 catches per innings. If Bails can play 100 odd tests he could break all sorts of catching records!

Talking about fielding it was great to see a couple of our fielding moves pay dividends. Bails took a catch at short mid on, standing next to the pitch and Nathan Lyon caught Carberry at legslip off Mitchy J. We’ve been derided for having a leg slip in place for the pace bowlers for most of the series, particularly by armchair experts in the stands in Brisbane, but it worked this time.

England were the exact opposite reverting back to their tried and true formula, the Empire XI. I guess it made sense, last time they won here three years ago they had a quota of four non-English born players – Strauss, Trott, KP and Prior – and they won comfortably. This series they’ve struggled to fill their quota of four, they only had 3 in Brisbane and then Trott went home so they had to pick Stokes (New Zealand) to try to get close to the quota. They really stuffed the quota by dropping Prior in Melbourne and only playing two internationals – Stokes and KP – and look how the team performed. They had to do something to adress the slump so getting back to the quota of four non-English was paramount even if it did mean playing three debutantes: Gary Balance (Zimbabwe), Boyd Rankin (Northern Ireland) and Scott Borthwick.

Talking of Borthwick, what the hell was that selection all about? The guy bats number 3 for his county, Durham, above Ben Stokes who bats a t 5. He’s a batting allrounder, yet he was brought in as the teams spinner and batted at number 8. It reminded me of the times we played Cam White and Steve Smith as the teams spinner despite them being batsmen who bowled a bit. Also he only played becasue Monty had a calf strain but Monty was galloping around like flighty racehorse delivering drinks to his skipper on Day 1. What happened to that bloke Dale Kerrigan England used at the last test at The Oval? He was at least a spinner not a batsmen, even if he was wildly erratic. I suppose Borthwick was pretty erratic too, but did get a few cheap wickets. The same can’t be said for Boyd Rankin – that was a shocker of a debut ‘breaking down’ with cramp twice in one innings. At least he’s got his place in history – the final wicket that made it a 5-0 white wash.

A memroable debut for Boyd Rankin
A memroable debut for Boyd Rankin

England initially had a squad of 17 yet played 18 players and not Steve Finn who was in the initial squad of 17. I’m not sure who Finn pissed off in the England team but it must have been someone important. He played the first Test in England and got smacked around by Hadds and hasn’t played since. The Rig, Chris Tremlett, also managed just one Test in Brisabne and Rankin only played in the last Test in Sydney. It was a strange decision by England to bring all three really tall fast bowlers and basically not play them. They were the three amigos, the tallest drinks waiters and glove runners in world cricket. It’s like they brought them just to bowl in the nets and so Stuart Broad had some mates he could have a conversation with eye-to-eye.

Three Amigos: Chris Tremlett, Boyd Rankin and Steven Finn
Three Amigos: Chris Tremlett, Boyd Rankin and Steven Finn

Anyone that’s enough about how hopeless England are. We were great, roll on South Africa and bring on these one dayers. I’m sure England will really be up for the fight. Actually can you put $50 0n us winning the one dayers 5-0.

Me: Can do, see you mate.

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Ross Slater

Blogging about the important things - AFL and cricket

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