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Ashes Diary of the 17th Man – Jul 11

Day 2 – First Test

The Kid 98At the end of a day that will not go down as the team’s best, there was nothing but smiles in the dressing room after play.  The Kid may not have taken a bag of wickets yet, but his batting set the world on fire. The score was eye catching, but perhaps it was the manner of the scoring that really caught everyone’s attention.  It was batting, real batting – head still, good shot selection, bold hitting, fearless footwork. Gilchrist or Walters, anyone?

The Prof and I were offering the game a rare moment of our undivided attention as The Kidwhizzed past Lucky’s scratchings, when The Prof went all philosophical.

“Do you remember when batting was that much fun?” he asked.

I thought about it as I watched The Kid flourish and scare the English bowlers out of doing what they do best. I knew exactly what he meant. Once upon a time batting was a pure joy, before it was a job and before every run mattered. My mind drifted back to playing in the leafy suburbs of Sydney, proudly wearing my North Shore cap in the Weblin and Watson Shields.  I was part way through replaying my first ever century in my mind – a magnificent 115 on our home ground, with Dad watching every shot – when The Prof jolted me back to reality by poking me in the ribs with a stump. “Wake up, mate. You need to watch. He might get this.”

The tension mounted in the dressing room, but there was no hanging about in the nervous nineties out in the middle. It was “on” until the last shot. But it wasn’t to be.

There has been plenty of controversy about the DRS.  UnLucky’s LBW looked shocking to the naked eye, The Kid’s stumping was “close”, while Root’s LBW reprieve looked more out thanUnLucky’s, but less out than the ball that ultimately got him out – though he failed to use the DRS.  Batting with the captain has its drawbacks, with Cook apparently keeping his two DRS reviews up his sleave to get more senior players like himself and KP out of a sticky situation.

The harsh realities started to hit on the bus back to the hotel, with Rocket Man one who was putting on a brave face.  He’s pretty handy with the bat, but he can see the writing on the wall that he’ll be occupying Glen McGrath’s specialist position from now on.  ”Don’t worry, Rocket’s, you’ll have a chance at that record next dig!” said Coach2.0, slapping him on the back.  It’s alright for him – he won’t have to face a fired up Rocket Man in the nets in the morning.  Or in the middle, come to think of it.  Coach2.0 is no fool, but he’s got some work to do on the Top 4.

Eng 215 and 2/80, Aust 280

Meet the Squad here

OUT NOW – The Ashes Files 2013. The secret applications file that Cricket Australia assembled when they threw applications open to all comers. Ebook available at amazon now.

OUT NOWCoach2Coach – The story of Australia’s chequered prepartion for the 2013 Ashes, as told by The 17th Man. (US/UK)

© 2013 Dave Cornford, Jeremy Pooley & Jock Macneish

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