Lesson One – Never Feel Sympathy for an Aussie

Posted on November 22, 2013

When I retired to bed last night England had dismissed Australia for 297 and were going along steadily at 74-2 on a pitch that was supposed to offer 500 runs to a half sensible batting team.

At around 4.00 am, I woke up and nearly had a peek on my phone but I thought I would leave the excitement until the morning. Avoiding being like a kid at Christmas who opened his presents to early and had nothing to relish in the morning, I decided to wait and start my day by happily waking up to a  BBC website headline reading: “Brilliant Pietersen Puts England in Control.”

However, when I awoke at about 6.30 there was a Facebook message from Jason Preston (An Englishman in Australia) saying: “I thought you knew about cricket Bob? 500, you must be joking.”

I quickly scrambled for my phone to see what had happened.

“England Blown Away by Australia.”



Mitchell Johnson gleefully blitzed the England batting line up

During the summer when England cruised past the Aussies without getting into second gear, I can remember seeing the likes of Michael Clarke and Shane Watson looking so dejected they might cry and stupidly, I felt pangs of pity watching the fall of what was once a great cricketing nation.

What a fool I have been. When am I going to learn that like a playground bully, Australia cunningly play the part of a victim and protest their innocence when they are down in the dumps and challenged. They do this time and again to lull their victims into a sense of security and sympathy before ambushing them when least expected, cavorting and whooping with outrageous glee as they do so.

From the taunting in the stands, right the way down to the wicket, the Aussies get their oppositions faces and grind them into the dirt. It is like challenging a bully and accepting his apologies, only to be hit in the back of the head as you walk away. When a foot is on the throat of an Aussie, it has to remain there until the last ounce of breath is released, because the bastard will only get you back, big style.

It is still early on in the series but what concerned me was the manner of the collapse; England suddenly seemed to lack a talisman to take control of the situation, there was no Botham or Flintoff to stand up to the ferocious Aussie onslaught and only Michael Carberry and Stuart Broad have emerged with their reputations intact; it was like men armed with sticks and stones trying to fend off an army of tanks.

When England came back to bowl in the evening session, there was a deflated sense of shell shock and it appeared that they had already accepted that this Test match was lost, which now, in all likelihood, it almost certainly is. The question is, can England fight back and stand up to the barrage of slating from the Australian public as well the team itself?

There may be some solace to be taken from the fact that for some reason, England are notoriously poor starters. They are without a first Test win since 2006 but have often fought back strongly as was the case with a series win last year in India. There is a blatant lack of something at a start of every series; maybe it is because they are under cooked whilst the Aussies have all been busy playing domestic Shield Cricket?

Whatever happens, England need to find some pride from what is likely to be a defeat. They have to make the Aussies work for it, or the tone could be set for a miserable winter watching in the early hours as we get humbled.

It is worth remembering that England were in serious trouble in the first Test in 2010 at the same venue, when 221 first innings runs behind, a double century from Cook, aided by centuries from Strauss and Trott rescued the match as we declared on 517-1.

The words straw and clutching spring to mind.

I have learnt now, never to pity an Aussie in distress…It is a sinister con trick that leaves you feeling rather stupid.

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