She’ll Be Right, Mate

This, like many of the things read on this website, is a true story: When I was but a nipper (we’re talking in the days of black & white) the bloke who taught me cricket at school (Graham Walder, if you must know), when asked about the impending Ashes series said: “If England bat first and score 738 for 4 declared, then bowl Australia out for 39 and 41, it has been a bloody great game.”

Mr Walder said those words to me in 1978, at a time when we were actually bloody good at cricket (and thankfully, when the Aussies were bloody awful.) And that, pretty much, was how we were brought up to eye the Aussies: They must be beaten at all costs, and when (or normally if) you have them down, put your foot on their throat and keep pressing.

I’m here to tell you that there were many years in my youth and young adulthood when that wasn’t the case. It was Australia who held the whip hand and the Poms who were complete and utter rubbish. A rabble. A bunch of Galahs, you might say. It was a dark, dark time for those of us who followed the game and who had to painfully acknowledge that the colonials were actually in the ascendency. It hurt.

Things have gone full circle, and it’s now The Motherland who are supreme rulers – winning three of the last four competitions. And don’t we love it ? When Michael Vaughan‘s 2005 side first beat…scratch that… TROUNCED the touring Australians, the much-loved English press wasted no time, missed no opportunity and showed no mercy in their reporting of the hapless Aussies. An English victory hadn’t happened for many a long year and the press (and some bloggers) set about their task with vengeful gusto.

And the sport of laughing at the colonials has spread to the Olympic Games.

If there was a 100m Aussie-Bashing competition, “Team GB” would secure a 1-2-3, taking all medals. It’s difficult to open a paper, browse a news site or turn on a TV Channel without someone squealing with delight at the poor performance of the Guys and Gals in Green and Gold. Led, of course, by The Daily Mail and Seb’s own news outlet, T’BBC, the cries of “What’s Happened to the Aussies?” is louder than a Brit crowd cheering Jess Ennis.

Things get worse. If there’s one country Australians hate losing to it’ll be Britain. Unless its New Zealand. Even the Kiwis are doing better than their Tasman neighbours. At time of writing the All Blacks have 3 golds to the Aussies’ 2. This hasn’t gone down well. When New Zealand reached 10th place in the medals table, official Australian Olympic broadcaster Channel 9 reportedly wiped New Zealand off their top 10 Olympic medal table TV on national television, showing only the top 9.

Jeez, mate.

And it’s not just the British Press – the Aussies own have been having a go.

Why don’t we have papers over here like that ? Oh, right, we do.

In the pool there was not a single Aussie individual Gold medal, just a relay win. In 2008 they’d come home with a tucker bag-full of ’em. Some Aussie journos have suggested their athletes lack conviction. You might say that it would be a first for there to be an Aussie without a conviction, but you would be being cruel and historically incorrect.

The Sydney Daily Telegraph decided to combine both Aussie and Kiwi medal totals , calling the new state ‘Aus Zealand’ which ranked ninth in the medals table, still behind Kazakhstan but above the likes of Belarus and Cuba.

Things will improve for our cousins. They are sure to win gold through hurdler and leading lemon-sucker Sally Pearson (unless, that is her face splits asunder should she break into a smile). Perhaps she’s nervous. Perhaps she just isn’t Michelle Jennecke. We can’t all be, love.

With the British medal total looking to break all records (which, after all is what is supposed to happen when you host the games) other nations are seeking explanations, looking for excuses. Aussie press are moaning about the huge Lottery Fund-led cash insertion to Team GB. Quite right. That’s how we felt when you lot were useless in the 70s and decided to inject wads of cash into all sports and set up academies. We learned what to do from you lot.

The French are insinuating that the wheels on our bikes are somehow illegal, as we hide them away after every cycle race. Well of course we do. If history has taught us anything, it’s not to share our secrets with you lot or the Yanks. Churchill had to pawn our best stuff and secrets to save the nation, without so much as a “Thanks, Bud”. We don’t have to do that any more.

US coaches questioned the validity of a great win by a Chinese 15 year old swimmer, Ye Shiwen, querying how one so young could win so well without the use of stimulants. Oddly when their 15-year-old Katie Ledecky produced the second fastest 800 metres freestyle in history to take gold the silence was…er…golden. It won’t be long before Mo Farah will be accused of something by someone, I’m quite sure.

The wheels (legal wheels) seem to be coming off the British Gold Dispenser as Athletes go crook, runners under-perform or even fail to turn up. But that’s ok. We’ve won lots. You lot have a couple. Go on, help yourself, mate. We don’t want to be greedy. And we’re uncomfortable being so good anyway.

By four years time in Rio it will all be very different. Normal service will resume. You’ll remember how to swim, and we’ll remember how to lose, or at least beat you and apologise for doing so – promising it won’t happen again. But I think we can finally dispense with the tag of Whinging Pom, don’t you ?

No Wukkers.

Aussie Gloom over Gold Medal Drought

Caught Out Crowing on the Crystal Set

So right on cue the English cricketers have reverted to type. Having played like gods for the past fortnight, last night they looked like a pissed pub side. It had to happen, of course, as the night before I was feeling so very, very smug with their performance that I decided to share with the (cricketing) world a little ditty I’d been sent to me by a mate in Sydney.

In the middle of the afternoon’s play, as Aussie wickets were tumbling, my mate Corky who’s working Down Under sent me a text of this song doing the rounds down there about English fast bowler Chris Tremlett.

Oh the weather outside is baking,
The Aussies are for the taking,
And since Tremlett’s stole the show,
Let him bowl, let him bowl, let him bowl.

There’s a mob called who are broadcasting live coverage of the whole ashes series as a sort of boys pub chat alternative to the BBC and Sky. So I decided to tweet them with this Christmas cricket song, hoping they might circulate it. Click here link to hear the result.

Notice that these three lads are, as incredible as it may seem, completely unaware of what The Sharp Single is, the poor naive fools. The other result is, of course, as soon as I decide to start crowing about how great my beloved English team was, they started playing like…well..Englishmen. I’ve never been guilty of counting my chickens, and this is exactly why I, especially when it concerns English cricket. I tempted fate and it bit me right on the arse.

So now I’m desperately trying to compose some spoof version of “In the Bleak Mid Winter” which depicts our batting order as useless arseholes which may reverse our fortunes in Perth tonight, but I feel it’ll be too little too late. So you can blame me. Or really blame Corky. Yes it’s Corky’s fault really. And the pitch. And the umpires. And James Anderson’s missus. And…

Ponting, Punches and Pudsey

Free beer for all’ if Aussies win Ashes

An Australian brewer offered a free beer to every adult in the country if Australia beat England in the upcoming Ashes cricket Tests.  VB on Tuesday pledged to “shout the nation” if Australia win back the coveted trophy in the five-Test series, starting November 25.

“This summer, when the final wicket falls and the Aussies lift the urn triumphantly, Australia’s best cold beer pledges to ‘shout the nation’,” the company said.”That’s one ice-cold VB for every eligible person of drinking age, and one huge celebration of the rightful return of the Ashes.” AFP

Yes, we’ve reached the silly season as the long-awaited Ashes series is nearly upon us. I’m sure you’re as excited as I am, counting the days til the first ball is bowled in Brisbane next Friday. Forget your F1 finales, your World Series or your European Championship footy, this is proper, real important sport and things have begun to get weird. A few weeks ago Londoners were treated to the sight of the mug of Aussie captain Ricky Ponting projected onto the Big Ben clock tower at Westminster in London, though it wasn’t clear to many what message that was supposed to send. Was Ricky trying to defect ? If so he could have saved himself the effort: we’ve already got one under-performing show-pony from the southern hemisphere masquerading in English colours and we don’t need another, thanks all the same.

Then yesterday the Australian Cricket Board announced its ‘team’ to face the Poms in the first match. Where traditionally you’d expect 12 or maybe 13 names on the sheet from which the final 11 would be selected, the ACB decided that 17 men were still in with a chance of representing their country. This uncertainty by the board may be the first example of  group of Australians with no convictions. I haven’t seen (or had the time to read) the full list of Waynes, Shanes, Quades, Sharleens or Marlenes on the list, but I hear Russell Crowe was in with an outside chance and Rolf Harris is a decent opening bat, though not as quick as he used to be between the wickets. Jason Donovan has not been selected due to his inability to disguise his wrong-un.

It’s not just the Strines who are showing the signs of nerves. Former England Captain Michael Vaughan looks like he’s also feeling the pressure of the build-up.

The interviewer had apparently started asking rude and nasty questions. He was stroppy as he’s one of the few Aussies not selected for the squad. He’d also stayed up all night to watch the Audley Harrison vrs David Haye fight earlier and didn’t expect any Englishman to throw a punch at any time in the near future. One can only presume that had Vaughan got into the ring with Audrey the fight would have been over 6 minutes earlier.

Sadly, rumour has it the video may well be either an advert by the Yorkshire Tourist Board or even worse a stunt dreampt up by those wags at the BBC for the upcoming Children in Need. There are many emotions which coarse though my veins when I watch a telethon and I have to admit that punching the nearest person is one of them. Watching 17 hours of half-baked skits and show-tunes performed by D-Listers is enough to turn anyone to violence. I’d willingly pledge the entire contents of my wallet (currently £7.46) if I didn’t have to watch the cast of Eastenders perform Yentl.  AGAIN!  The BBC Newsroom with doubtless be wheeled out yet again to embarrass themselves and others as they mince their way through Porgy and Bess or High School Musical.

They have a whole year to put this tosh together, surely they could come up with something better than JLS sing Meatloaf or whatever rubbish we’re gonna be subjected to? On the other hand, as the cricket will broadcast live through the night, I may just use Children in Need to help me change my sleep patterns. A quick flash of my credit card and I can tuck myself up in bed, dreaming of sunny Brisbane to the soundtrack of tumbling Australian wickets.

I dunno who these two blokes are but I could watch them all night. (Advanced warning: Two old codgers chat about Aussie cricket. Heaven)