A Year of Thinking Positively.

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Re: A Year of Thinking Positively.

Postby Arthur Crabtree » Wed Sep 09, 2015 12:13 am

Because everything seems so intense, so many things resonate down the series. When Michael Vaughan won the toss (it feels a vital one) and said he'd 'have a bat', it felt like he was mimicking Ponting saying he'd 'have a bowl' at Edgbaston, except, he'd do the right thing. Ponting will have a bowl. Wrong. Vaughan will have a bat. Right. They both constructed the sentence the same but with one difference. Because everything seems so intense, we look for signs everywhere. Vaughan added that he would look to put Australia under pressure, which is becoming like the often repeated chorus of a sea shanty.

And the Australian pace attack is becoming the prelude to the grand entrance of Shane Warne. They bowled a lot of ill directed filth, even the returning McG, until Warne took off his sweater with England at 62-0 off thirteen overs at drinks., The game was drifting, but quickly. The lively crowd had come for a good time and was getting one. In his third over, Warne got Trescothick. Vaughan plays Warne pretty well, but has started chipping in the air through midwicket, and Warne picked him up there in his sixth over. Bell, who is spooked by the spinner from Ferntree Gully, how English of him, went in his seventh. KP gave Warne figures of 11-2-34-4, bowling legspin, on the first day of a Test.

We know Warne as the cunning bully of English patsies. We didn't know quite what a great sportsman he is. He is the last man fighting.

Lee bowled with passion and tends to support Shane well. He's adopted Lillee's finger flick across the forehead. But took no wickets.

Freddie batted like a dream. He's not a fast bowler who has been coached to parrot the cadences of a top order batter. He's got style. His straight drive is wonderful. He tends to open the face playing to off on the back foot, and this got him out for 72 to McG who notices such things.

Colly got a howler, lbw to his old team mate Shaun Tait, the width of a St James Bible outside off stump.

Last out was Strauss. So often conned by Warne playing find the lady, he assembled an innings of stature, chanceless until... It doesn't feel that Strauss' personality has made a big impact on the series. He's got something of the nice-but-dims about him. I can imagine him going into a city bank in his pinstripe, spending the morning on the toilet with his trousers round his ankles, skimming the Financial Times funnies as twenty stories down, the capital burns around him. Clearly unfair. He is the only player to make two tons in the series. His knock today was crucial.

Chanceless until, Warne got him, snaffled at short leg by Katich. Strauss walked off with 129, as Warne held the ball aloft inviting the crowd to clap his 5-fer. 31-4-109-5.
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Re: A Year of Thinking Positively.

Postby Durhamfootman » Wed Sep 09, 2015 8:48 am

Warne is, and has been terrific in this series

don't mention Colly and St James in the same sentence..... he'll have your guts for garters
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Re: A Year of Thinking Positively.

Postby Arthur Crabtree » Wed Sep 09, 2015 10:27 am

Ha! Maybe better for Harmi.
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Re: A Year of Thinking Positively.

Postby Arthur Crabtree » Wed Sep 09, 2015 5:18 pm

There's no better sight in cricket, than Harmison, in his pomp, bat in hand, sweep-driving the ball into the stand while the bowler scratches his head. Warney has kept that sort of thing to a minimum in the series, but his twenty today at the Oval was one for the connoisseur.

He was only at the wicket at all because Gilo got a shocking decision, lbw to Warne, as the ball spun to miss off by the width of the Encyclopaedia Britannica. Later in the day, Gilo trapped Langer in front of middle, for the umpire to turn it down. Personality plays its part. Warne got his dodgy decision because he makes the umpire want to be part of the game. Ashley doesn't get his because he's averaging forty in Test match cricket. Ashley don't chuckle.

England were all out for 373, with Warne taking 6-122.

Some accuse Matthew Hayden of being a flat track bully, a lovely phrase devised by a Kiwi to describe a Zimbabwean, Graeme Hick. A characteristic that was hardly ever thought of, is now frequently hurled at batters, just because there is now a wonderfully pithy term to describe it. It gelds the batters aura. Haydos must hate it. Well this is a flat track, so expect Haydos to knock over our sandcastle. He's had a torrid series, struggling to play his shots, and then falling on his face when trying to hit his way out of the slump. Today, he put all his shots away. All of them. Justin Langer outscored him.

Trescothick dropped Langer off Collingwood. That Colly was bowling at all tells us how little there was there for the bowlers. England lost control of the game, as they have at times in each Test. Then... AUSTRALIA WERE OFFERED BAD LIGHT AND WALKED OFF! Update for Langer and Hayden: Australia have to win the match to draw the series and retain the Ashes. I know that seems unlikely, but it's a fact. They gave England a little gift. They didn't get back out onto the field. The weather is squeezing the game on a good pitch. Two days have gone, and Australia trail by 261. Langer on 75, Hayden on 32 (96 balls).
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Re: A Year of Thinking Positively.

Postby Durhamfootman » Wed Sep 09, 2015 8:32 pm

Harmy likes batting at the Oval. He usually does well there

No idea what Australia were thinking of, walking off like that
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Re: A Year of Thinking Positively.

Postby Arthur Crabtree » Wed Sep 09, 2015 9:41 pm

Gonna look strange if they don't win the game.
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Re: A Year of Thinking Positively.

Postby Arthur Crabtree » Thu Sep 10, 2015 11:11 am

Langer was first to his (rather fortuitous) ton, and got out, bowled by a burned out Steve Harmison off an inside edge. Matty joined him on the century much later. It was his first fifty of the series and then he played fluently to the hundred mark. When he passed three figures, Flintoff shook his hand.

Langer went to 7000 Test runs today. That's four more than Don Bradman.

It rained for much of the day, and England couldn't get reverse swing. They relied on Ashley Giles for attacking threat, but he was unlucky again, edges finding empty spaces. When the rain stopped, and the players got on the pitch, Australia AGAIN WENT OFF FOR BAD LIGHT. Only 45 overs were bowled. Australia are going to try and bat once, but the weather might take up too much of the time left. I wonder if Australia might have been better looking for parity, or even declaring behind. They have to win the game. That kind of captaincy, I don't know.... 'funky' captaincy, doesn't seem to be Ponting's metier. Maybe always having had McG and Shane to throw the ball to has blunted his creativity. Necessity is the mother of invention. And Ricky has never needed to.

Freddie got Ponting and Australia came in from the gloom at 277-2. Australia are 96 behind. Matty is still there, chest now fully inflated. Tomorrow is Saturday, and on Sunday, all this will be over. More rain and bad light is on the way.

Ricky. Do something.
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Re: A Year of Thinking Positively.

Postby Arthur Crabtree » Fri Sep 11, 2015 11:09 am

Andrew Flintoff bowled a spell at the Oval today that should be legend. With Harmison ineffective and Simon Jones watching on tv, he bowled seventeen overs without break, and took 5-34. Australia had been only 50 runs behind with seven wickets in hand in the morning session. Their plan was to bat once and bowl England out on the last day. Flintoff swung a ball into Hayden for lbw, and the rest collapsed. England actually led by six runs on first innings. It was a stunning turnaround, Freddie being supported wonderfully by Hoggy, and there was no better moment than when Giles, on the midwicket boundary, plucked out a flat slog from Bret Lee to bring the players in. Hoggy took 4-97, and he has become more influential as the series reaches it's tense denouement.

Bad managers deal with problems in the work place by simply filling the gap themselves. Vaughan leads this England side, but Freddie says he wouldn't give the ball up. We'll have to hope for the future that Freddie won't be bowled into the ground at every crisis, whenever the attack falters. He was magnificent today. He batted better than I've ever seen him on the first day. Only the likelihood of the draw will prevent this performance being up there with his heroics in Birmingham. He is becoming the auteur of the series. Yesterday's marathon just added another facet to his contribution.

Bad light dominated the latter part of the day. There was a glorious moment later on when the Aussie fielders came out in their sunnies, to send the message that the sky was ablaze with a Mediterranean glare, as the England fans waved their brollies in response. This moment made obvious the way the contest has connected with the British public, that comment can pass back and forth, silently intimated between the players and the spectators.

Australia had stayed out in gloomy weather in the morning as their wickets fell. England had no such interest. There were only 13 overs for England to face. Ponting cut straight to the obvious. Warne bowled the fourth over of the innings. This was like sex without foreplay. Warne got Strauss again, with his fourth ball. England take nine wickets into the final day of the series, and lead by forty runs. Even though England have had a great day, the series remains precarious. England have a day to bat out, or Australia take nine wickets with enough time to knock out the runs.

I can hardly bear to think it, but it can all go wrong on the last day, maybe in the last session. But England remain far nearer winning the Ashes than they have in twenty years. We need one final hero.
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Re: A Year of Thinking Positively.

Postby Durhamfootman » Sat Sep 12, 2015 9:13 am

no

for the first time, I'm not fearful of some dramatic turnaround

England are going to do this.... I can feel it in my water

Hayden might very well have saved his international career with that knock...... I get the feeling he was in last chance saloon. It won't save his team though

come on England.... stamp on them!

It'll be good to see the Aussies slink off back home to 'Wilkinsonland'

pretty soon, in every sport, we'll be chanting "can we play you every week"

I can see us thrashing them in track cycling and taking medals off them in swimming, before long

of course, I may be getting a little carried away..... we'll never beat them at cycling or take medals off them in swimming.... that would be ridiculous!
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Re: A Year of Thinking Positively.

Postby Arthur Crabtree » Sat Sep 12, 2015 9:34 am

Last day about to start. The tension is ridiculous. Will the game just fizzle out, or will there be even more drama? I hope for the former, but fear the latter.
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Re: A Year of Thinking Positively.

Postby Durhamfootman » Sat Sep 12, 2015 9:36 am

I'd happily settle for the latter

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Re: A Year of Thinking Positively.

Postby Arthur Crabtree » Sat Sep 12, 2015 9:39 am

I'd be happy if the umpires finish the day early, with the players in the dressing room watching Koertzen and Bowden on the tv. The nation craves anticlimax.
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Re: A Year of Thinking Positively.

Postby Arthur Crabtree » Sat Sep 12, 2015 5:58 pm

As I'm sure as everyone is aware, England won the Ashes back at the Oval today. And the series ended, not with a whimper, but with a bang. Before the sky was illuminated by a cascade of fireworks, Kevin Pietersen filled the heavens with huge lofted sixes to draw the game in a new kind of style. England regained the Ashes. It feels as unlikely, astonishing and disorientating as waking up on a Friday morning and finding your garden bin has been emptied.

But first we suffered. Australia started with Warne and McGrath. Michael Vaughan came out with his poker face, presenting no emotion to the onlooker, and betrayed his anxiety by not showing any. He drove Warne around the ground sublimely, very nearly to the point our nerves were quieted, when he edged McG behind to Gilly. Bell fell the next ball, and the hat trick delivery missed KP's gloves by a millimetre, before flying off his shoulder to Warne at slip. I was sure he'd hit it. When Warne got Trescothick and Flintoff, England were 126-5 and Colly and Pietersen were in charge of a lead 132, and the day not yet at lunch.

Colly batted for 72 minutes, pretty calmly, earning his place on the commemorative tea towel. At the other end, was pandemonium. Pietersen was dropped at slip off Warne by Hayden. He nearly ran himself out, and then, in what felt like the pivotal moment of the day, was dropped at slip by Shane Warne. The man who had been most of Australia's resistance since Lord's, spilled a regulation grab. Between times, KP scored runs all around the ground. Once he passed fifty, his innings was unstoppable. Seven sixes. Many of the fifteen fours were lofted into the long grass. Sure, early on, he had astonishing luck. But at the last, he made sure the Ashes ended up where they had promised to since, oh, day five at Old Trafford. When he was hooking a ridiculously pumped up Brett Lee off his brow and into the stands, it was KP who briefly looked like this series' Botham, rather than Freddie.

It was never going to be easy because Australia are a great team and their muscle memory compels them not to give up, and to win. Lee pinned Pietersen's bat against his throat during an intense passage of play, exposing in an instant their compelling threat. But the ball arced over the slips and they ran two. On another day, Australia would have run down 180 to win and taken the Ashes home. Just not on this day.

When Ashley Giles joined Kevin Pietersen, England were 205 ahead, with tea nearly an hour away, and the win still within Australia's reach. Shaun Tait had bowled Geraint, his off stump spinning towards the boundary boards. And then, after all this, after all the events of this series, came my favourite period of the summer. As Gilo and KP batted England to the draw. It felt like a buddy movie. Ashley, the rather buttoned up, but pretty tough old professional. And Kevin, the effervescent, slightly irritating, instinctive, mercurial, metrosexual kid. With the stupid hair. I was embarrassingly moved by watching these two bat together, forming an experience they will never forget, and will think of every time they meet each other for the rest of their lives. Giles batted for two and a half hours, digging in, then hitting Warne for runs. On passing fifty, he appeared overwhelmed. Pietersen was out for 158 to a magic ball from McG. He batted for nearly five hours. He left behind a lead of 314 and the Ashes were safe even to the most pessimistic of fans. His last hundred runs was an exhibition of his unusual talent.

KP walked off saying 'sorry about that' to his partner. Warne ran after Kevin to shake his hand, and for the first time in the summer it felt like KP wasn't being identified as someone under the patronage of the great Warne, but as an immense player with stature of his own. He's a winner, and a player for the big occasion.

And then Richie Benaud retired.

Things weren't so cockeyed that Warne didn't get Gilo in the end. But there was redemption for Giles after a career of bad press. Crucially, one of the players without a great reputation emerged to influence the series. And that matters, just as it does the great stars performing.

England were all out for 335 (sadly no cameo from Harmi). Warne took 6-124. Australia batted for an over as the final light of the series ebbed away. And the umpires tipped off the bails, as they must.
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Re: A Year of Thinking Positively.

Postby Durhamfootman » Sat Sep 12, 2015 8:36 pm

I ran around the room several times such was my joy. Fortunately there was no one around to bring me back to earth, by being terribly unimpressed, unlike after winning the rugby world cup a couple of years ago.

Warne will get some stick for dropping his protege on the final day, and with it the ashes. Doubtless conspiracy theorists will be sharpening their pencils, if not their wits.. they never seem to sharpen their wits.

hard to imagine that one player could take 40 wickets in a 5 match series. harder still to imagine that player being on the losing side.

Ponting will have to go, so perhaps Warne will get his chance to shake off the 'greatest captain never to captain Australia' tag.

Who else will go, I wonder? Martyn looks favourite, along with Dizzy and Kaspa. Hayden may have done enough. Hopefully Glenda will retire....... he's a right bast@rd.... I hate him..... and admire him..... and hate him again...................... Good riddance
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Re: A Year of Thinking Positively.

Postby Arthur Crabtree » Sat Sep 12, 2015 10:44 pm

I think a few of these are ready for retirement, but might stay on to win the Ashes back. It's only a year away. Gillespie's finished. He's more likely to score a Test match double ton than be playing at the Gabba next year. Maybe they'll go on ignoring Clark and Hussey.
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