The Prof talked me into going to Melbourne to watch the first ODI between England and Australia, and then to stay on to watch some of the Australian Open. I thought we were supposed to be professional cricketers, but the Big Bash League is dominating proceedings, along with the ODIs, and we’re not playing in either of those omnishambles. On the other hand, the idea of returning to grade cricket in Sydney doesn’t thrill either. At least Thea has managed a few more days off work, and loves the Melbourne scene.
I did manage to talk The Prof out of booking a corporate box for us, though. If you’re going to The G, you want to be in the middle of things, not sitting in air-conditioned comfort eating gourmet party pies off crockery plates. In the end the crowd was a bit disappointing, and he found some seats high up in the stands where we could sit and watch the game in relative peace and quiet.
Dennis, our Barmy Army friend, came and joined us for an hour or so. It’s his last game before heading back to England, and we enjoyed sharing one last beer or three together and talking about the tour. He was pretty philosophical about the Test Series, and a little downcast when trying to come up with ideas for how he’d change the England team to revitalise it. We all agreed that talking Tatts into emigrating was not on the cards.
“It’s rather hypnotic, don’t you think?” said The Prof, looking a bit cross-eyed.
“Hard to set a field on,” I said, tilting my head. “Difficult to judge the angles.”
“OOh, aye, it’s making me feel dizzy,” said Dennis.
“I think it’s like one of those magic eye puzzles. It’s going all 3-D on me,” said The Prof.
The ground started to spin, and we were lifted up out of our seats and sucked into the vortex that had formed under the centre wicket.
Next thing we knew we were sitting in the stands at the WACA. The heat was blistering, and England were heading out to bat in their second innings. The events unfolded before our eyes. The Natural took the ball, thundered into the wicket and Chef was bowled by a peach for the first golden duck of his Test career. The ground erupted, and we were carried back to our seats at the MCG on the cheers of the crowd.
“That sums up the series, eh?” said Dennis.
We shook hands, promised to keep in touch, and Dennis wandered down the stairs and disappeared into the crowd.
As for the first ODI, England did okay, batting first and scoring 7/269. They must have had high hopes of taking a game off Australia, but they were blown off the park by a 163 opening stand in only 27 overs. Puff did pretty well, but when he’s playing the sheet-anchor role, you know things must be moving pretty fast.
“Heard from the selectors?” I asked. The Prof always seems to be in the know, while I’m always in the dark.
“What about?” he said with the sly grin that he can’t hide when he has heard from the selectors.
“You know. The South African Tour.”
The Prof rubbed his chin. “Don’t worry. Can’t say too much at this stage, but I have got us an appointment tomorrow at 10 to have some safari khakis made up. Know what I’m saying?”
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Ashes Diary 2 – The 17th Man’s Summer of Shove – Australia 2013-14. OUT SOON