Raking over the coals of this failed series was never going to be much fun, and our end-of-tour awards night was never going to reach great heights. It was a solemn affair with voluntary retirements (Sir Captain, The Natural and UnLucky) and less-voluntary “won’t get picked again” type retirements (Wicky, Hollywood and Junior Marsh) hanging over the group like a giant swinging Duke on a green top in the Midlands.
Still, we went thought the motions and here are the notable highlights.
The Shimano Tackle Adjustment Award: Trapper, who will he the holder of this . . . award for the foreseeable future.
The “Doing a Watson” Award: Hollywood – got his heroic 30 in the one Test he played, messed around with LBW and DRS, got dropped, showed off his pec’s in the press.
The Going Out In Style Award: UnLucky, highest average (60) and second highest aggregate (480) for the Tour, his last before retiring with 2,000 runs from just 25 tests. He was, um, unlucky not to play more.
The Lower Order Lord Award: Tatts won this one for his 77, and the fact that he top scored at Trent Bridge.
Didn’t Quite Make It: The Natural’s knees, who didn’t make it to the lead-up game in Kent, let alone the main action of the Tests. Sore, and sorely missed.
Most Wickets: Mr Darcy was a narrow winner of this one with 18, edging out Mantis and Plopper each on 16 and Tatts on 15.
The Vegan Venom Award: The Freak, aka BananaMan. Didn’t get a game until it was too late, bowled like it was a big mistake to leave him out, or at least to bring him in for the fourth test when the series was still alive. Lead the bowling averages with his 6 wickets. Oops.
Most Deceptive Arm Ball: Plopper did OK and used his mysterious Wiggle Balls to have the best economy rate of the bowlers – apart from The Freak.
The Golden Glove Award: This award was withheld. The series turned on Wicky dropping The Boy Root in Cardiff, enough said.
The Ball Magnet Award: Adam&Eve for his 7 catches.
The Easter Island Statue Award: Tatts got this one again, for services to staring while the ball heads to the boundary.
The Dame Nellie Melba Comeback Award: Controversially awarded to Junior Marsh for his inglorious contribution at Trent Bridge.
The Coach’s Award: Sir Captain, for making it through the series without “significant” injury – although clearly his back is stuffed and he can’t bat anymore because of it.
The party dragged on into the night. It was a bit like a New Year’s Eve party – everyone hoping for a good night, but the weight of expectations leading to the whole thing falling flat. There were kind speeches for and by Sir Captain, and a rousing call to arms by the new captain.
The Prof and I retired to the balcony of our suite, leaving the WAGs in the drawing room to compare notes from the day’s shopping.
“So, that’s it then,” I said.
“No more England until they come to Australia in November 2017.”
“You prediction?” I said.
“Apart from the fact that we won’t be on the Tour?” The Prof titled his glass in my direction. “This Moet is good, isn’t it?”
I took a sip of mine. “Damn fine.”
London lay before us, the lights tinkling away and a gentle late summer breeze rustling the linen tablecloth. Here we triumphed, but in the Welsh West and the Midlands, England wiped the floor with us.
It will be four years before another bunch of Aussie hopefulls have a chance to do better here.
Good luck to them.