A little bit about me and my little blog

This is by far not the first cricket blog to be written and it certainly won't be the last (or necessarily the best). But it's mine.

This is mainly an excuse for me to carry on about a sport that has been something of an obsession since I was knee high to a middle stump. An obsession which has never left throughout the many highs (behave, there have been some) and lows (and boy have there been many of those…..) of being and England cricket fan in the years since.

The views and opinions in this blog are entirely my own. Sometimes light-hearted, occasionally irreverent, hopefully never offensive.

What gives this fool the right to have an opinion on this great sport? Where are his credentials I hear you ask? Well I think my catch at mid-on in the inter-house final at Heath Grammar school in 1981 speaks for itself…..

Saturday, 23 November 2013

The Ashes 2013/14: First Test - The Gabba (or The Ghost of Christmas Cricketing disasters past)

I have few words to offer after the horror of the first three days of the first Test.....I feel Charles Dickens could sum the events up rather better - well sort of.

Are you sitting comfortably? For I have a story to tell you that will chill you to the very marrow of your bones......

"The curtains of his bed were drawn aside, I tell you, by a hand. Not the curtains at his feet, nor the curtains at his back, but those to which his face was addressed. The curtains of his bed were drawn aside; and Stuart the blogger , starting up into a half-recumbent attitude, found himself face to face with the unearthly visitor who drew them: as close to it as I am now to you, and I am standing in the spirit at your elbow"
The Ghost of cricketing disasters past.....probably.
It was a strange figure -- like a child: yet not so like a child as like an old man, viewed through some supernatural medium, which gave him the appearance of having receded from the view, and being diminished to a child's proportions. Its hair, which hung about its neck and down its back, was white as if with age; and yet the face had not a wrinkle in it, and the tenderest bloom was on the skin. The arms were very long and muscular; the hands the same, as if its hold were of uncommon strength. Its legs and feet, most delicately formed, were, like those upper members, bare. It wore a tunic of the purest white, and round its waist was bound a lustrous belt, the sheen of which was beautiful. It held a branch of fresh green holly in its hand; and, in singular contradiction of that wintry emblem, had its dress trimmed with summer flowers.

But the strangest thing about it was, that from the crown of its head there sprung a bright clear jet of light, by which all this was visible; and which was doubtless the occasion of its using, in its duller moments, a great extinguisher for a cap, which it now held under its arm.

Even this, though, when Stuart the blogger looked at it with increasing steadiness, was not its strangest quality. For as its belt sparkled and glittered now in one part and now in another, and what was light one instant, at another time was dark, so the figure itself fluctuated in its distinctness: being now a thing with one arm, now with one leg, now with twenty legs, now a pair of legs without a head, now a head without a body: of which dissolving parts, no outline would be visible in the dense gloom wherein they melted away. And in the very wonder of this, it would be itself again; distinct and clear as ever.

"Are you the Spirit, sir, whose coming was foretold to me?" asked Stuart the blogger.
"I am."

The voice was soft and gentle. Singularly low, as if instead of being so close beside him, it were at a distance.

"Who, and what are you?" Stuart the blogger demanded.

"I am the Ghost of Christmas Cricketing disasters Past."

"Long Past?" inquired Stuart the blogger: observant of its dwarfish stature.

"No. Your past."

Perhaps, Stuart the blogger could not have told anybody why, if anybody could have asked him; but he had a special desire to see the Spirit in his cap; and begged him to be covered.C

"What!" exclaimed the Ghost, "Would you so soon put out, with worldly hands, the light I give? Is it not enough that you are one of those whose passions made this cap, and force me through whole trains of years to wear it low upon my brow!"

Stuart the blogger reverently disclaimed all intention to offend or any knowledge of having willfully bonneted the Spirit at any period of his life. He then made bold to inquire what business brought him there.

"Your welfare," said the Ghost.

Stuart the blogger expressed himself much obliged, but could not help thinking that a night of unbroken rest would have been more conducive to that end. The Spirit must have heard him thinking, for it said immediately:

"Your reclamation, then. Take heed."
It put out its strong hand as it spoke, and clasped him gently by the arm.

"Rise. And walk with me."

As the words were spoken, they passed through the wall, and stood upon an open country road, with fields on either hand. The city had entirely vanished. Not a vestige of it was to be seen....... 

"Worse team ever to visit theses shores, my arse"
In its place was Headingly, Leeds and it was the year of our Lord, 1989. Now, remember people that this was the 'worst Australian team ever to visit these shores - so surely a chance for the England team to push home its obvious superiority and start off the series in a truly memorable style.?

Hmm, memorable it indeed was, though not for the reasons many of us thought it was going to be. The as the first Test at Headingly witnessed Lord Gowers side plummet from apparent unshakable confidence to the realm of blind panic in no time, after simply needing see out less than a days play on what had so far been something of a belter of a pitch. It had all looked rather comfortable at a reasonable 67 for 1 to until a certain Terry Alderman deciding to once again torture England by taking a Michelle for just 44 runs. Pandomonium set in with Gowers boys hurtling to oblivion and crashing all out for 191. Thus the series momentum was with Alan Border and his 'terrible' team and a depressingly common occurrence for the next 20 odd years was set in place......... and more than often taking place during the festive season at .....

"..... they were now in the busy thoroughfares of a city, where shadowy passengers passed and repassed; where shadowy carts and coaches battle for the way, and all the strife and tumult of a real city were. It was made plain enough, by the dressing of the shops, that here too it was Christmas time again; but it was evening, and the streets were lighted up.

The Ghost stopped at a certain warehouse door, and asked Stuart the blogger if he knew it."

The Aussies wait their turn for a hug from Merve
And he knew it well, for it was the door to the MCG. Ahh yes, Stuart the blogger recalled, Melbourne 1990, where Graham Gooch's side worked out a way to lose 6 wickets for just 3 runs.....that's right, 3 bloody runs. 

It had all being going rather swimmingly with the moustachiode wonder's side dominating the first innings and taking a small but decent lead into the second. Unfortunately, going from 147 to 150 all out in a matter of minutes somehow handed the momentum back to the Aussies. The Aussies then rather take the piss by ticking off the target of 197 with ridiculous ease.

"Spirit!" said Stuart the blogger, "show me no more! Conduct me home. Why do you delight to torture me?"

"One shadow more!" exclaimed the Ghost.

"No more!" cried Stuart the blogger! "No more, I don't wish to see it! Show me no more!"

But the relentless Ghost pinioned him in both his arms, and forced him to observe what happened next., "show me no more! Conduct me home. Why do you delight to torture me?"

But the relentless Ghost pinioned him in both his arms, and forced him to observe what happened next. They were in another scene and place;

Now all of you boys, leave this place
and think about what you have done.
This time the place was the city of Adelaide, the year 2006. It was perhaps the most anticipated Ashes series of modern times after Vaughan, Flintoff, Harmeson et al a year earlier had finally prised away the urn from the hands of the Aussies after 6000 years of Ashes losses. We were the holders, and while we may may not have had a couple of key players, we were still strong. Many people who thought they knew what they were talking about (including Stuart the blogger) had predicted a tight and close fought series......erm.

The second Test here had been taking place on another belter of an Adelaide batting track with the scores of each team adding to over 1000 runs in the first innings alone. The fifth and final day of the Test match saw Freddie's brave boys simply needing to bat out the day  - after all a victory for either side was out of the question. The only thing that could steer the result away from a draw was if one player manages somehow to install blind panic and psychological disintegration into the opposition. Yeah, thanks a bunch Shane Warne.......

I may have doubts about him as a pundit and general human being, but my god the man was a great bowler. His skill and mere cricketing prescience once more pummelled England into mental submission as they collapsed from 69 for 1 to a simply panic-stricken 129 all out by the tea interval. The Aussies were suddenly in sight of the most improbable of victories as they knocked off the outstanding 168 at a canter. England were crushed, the Aussies sensed humiliation was on the cards. They weren't wrong.

"Spirit!" said Stuart the blogger in a broken voice, "remove me from this place."

"I told you these were shadows of the things that have been," said the Ghost. "That they are what they are, do not blame me!"

"Remove me!" Stuart the blogger exclaimed, "I cannot bear it!"

He turned upon the Ghost, and seeing that it looked upon him with a face, in which in some strange way there were fragments of all the faces it had shown him, wrestled with it.

"Leave me! Take me back. Haunt me no longer!"

In the struggle, if that can be called a struggle in which the Ghost with no visible resistance on its own part was undisturbed by any effort of its adversary, Stuart the blogger observed that its light was burning high and bright; and dimly connecting that with its influence over him, he seized the extinguisher-cap, and by a sudden action pressed it down upon its head.

The Spirit dropped beneath it, so that the extinguisher covered its whole form; but though Stuart the blogger pressed it down with all his force, he could not hide the light, which streamed from under it, in an unbroken flood upon the ground.

He was conscious of being exhausted, and overcome by an irresistible drowsiness; and, further, of being in his own bedroom. He gave the cap a parting squeeze, in which his hand relaxed; and had barely time to reel to bed, before he sank into a heavy sleep."

As we all know, Scrooge got off lucky after eventually seeing the error of his ways. Stuart the blogger on the other hand has failed to acknowledge the warnings.........

Yet another cunning plan comes together
For this morning, the news from Brisbane 2013 is looking alarmingly familiar.

It is tempting to say that it was all going swimmingly well once again after sending the Aussie first innings effort packing for less than 300 - and all this after the Aussies had opted to bat on a belter of a pitch. Substitute Terry Alderman or Shane Warne for a certain Mitchell Johnson and the worst collapse since the fiasco at Melbourne 23 years ago takes place. I shall say this only once...six wickets lost for nine measly runs.....oh bloody hell. 

Maybe one day I will learn from the lesson of Scrooge, change my ways and never again fail to expect another England cricketing collapse. But I doubt it.

BTW, on a completely unrelated note, I would like to thank Charles Dickens and his creation, Ebeneezer Scrooge for providing valuable assistance In a particular blog entry. 


  1. Nice one Stuart the Blogger cheered me up a little after the drivel of the weekend and this mornings pre-work tosh from our boys...!!

    1. Thanks mate - glad you enjoyed the piece. Onwards and upwards to the 2nd Test at Adelaid