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Toss to England; they're batting.

It's overcast, the pitch is greenish and there's high humidity; perfect conditions in which to bat. Yeah, right. Hussain in Brisbane and Ponting at Edgbaston seem to have ensured no one will ever again win the toss and bowl.

Looks like a pretty good deck to me. If England can't mount a tidy total today, they're kidding themselves.

Interesting that Freddie has won three tosses so far and England are still getting flogged. Wonder when's the last time that happened.

Give it away, Gnome, ya butter fingers.

Was it a tough catch? Is Hungry a better fielder? What about Chris Rogers? Can he field? I think England are a chance here...

I detect a little sarcasm.

It wasn't a sitter, but he got both hands cleanly around it. Should have caught it.

No idea about Hungry or Rogers, but Langer is a better fieldsman than Bob Holland.

Can we celebrate England's highest opening partnership of the series - 42?

I think that they are taking the piss and this whole tour has been a joke on us.

Don't get ahead of yourself, Zed, there's every chance England can better that in the next innings. That would be The Last innings.

Call me unStrayan, but this cricket is hardly boiling my potatoes. Courtesy of Straya in the 1980s I've seen plenty enough last Test face-saving. I think I'll just flick over to my new Two-Disc Special Edition Original Director's Cut (with Special Features) of The Wild Bunch.

"If they move - kill 'em!"

I was really unAustralian and watched the ODI in Christchurch between NZ and Sri Lanka while listening to ABC radio.

NZ are putting together the makings of another good ODI side just in time for the World Cup. James Franklin looks like he should be chasing girls and smoking behind the sheds at school, but he's turning into a handy lower order batsman as well as a useful bowler.

Bond is class. I'd like to see how the rest of them go on Australian decks before talking about the others though

The Kiwis and Yarps would be good bets for the World Cup. Both of them bat into the tail and are capable of chasing a large total on a small ground with a friendly track. The key for Straya is whether or not our bowlers can hold the deeper opposition batting line-ups.

Mind you, Straya winning a third World Cup in a row would need no small amount of luck. Based purely on laws of average, the smart money should go elsewhere.

Yep. We've won 18 straight World Cup matches. We're way overdue to slip up.

KP threw his wicket away. Playing for himself again, I guess.

Pietersen out, Collingwood in. England tail starts.

Yep that Collingwood's a total hack. High score of only 206. I mean, how pissweak is that?

We've got a lot more work to do yet, folks. Don't get too excited.

Bell, on the other hand...

What the fuck's with Bell, anyway? You work your arse off, dig in, get yourself a half century, and then you let Pigeon knock your stumps over.

It happens when your new at the crease, but Bell keeps getting out like a retard when he's well set. Whats what that?

Hey Scott? Excited yet? Bell needs a new off stump, and the Englunders are starting to fall over themselves to get out the fastest.

They are interviewing Richard Branson on Nein, so no, my pulse levels remain at barely ticking over levels.

Scott,

Take Collingwood's 206 out and he averages 22 for the series.

Although given the state of the bath-dodgers at the moment, he should be higher in the order.

(and this may or may not be an attempted reverse mozz to inject some life in the series)

Flintoff is a truly great player and Australians haven't seen the best of him in this series. And I tell ya, Collingwood is class.

Cricket's a funny game, and you can never assume anything.

Bell's not used to constant pressure - hence his flattering scores against the Bangers.

Flintoff's ankle and Collingwood's arse have been very important for the Poms.

Tony

What's SEN?

SEN is an all sports radio station here in Braxtoria, Murph. Top left, click the radio and you can listen on line. Lot's of AFL, as you would imagine.

Thanks Tony

Bad light?

I would have thought they could turn the lights on. What's the ruling there?

I agree with David Lloyd (and Zed "Pietersen out, Collingwood in. England tail starts.") in today's Australian:

Looking at England's current batting line-up, it takes me back to the 1998-99 Ashes series when I shared a drink with my rival coach, Geoff Marsh, after the last Test and he noted that England, in that summer, was effectively "five out, all out".

No sooner are you bowling to Flintoff than you think you're about to run through them. Contrast that with us and England are still loooking a mix of Clarke, Sideshow, Gilly, Warne, Lee and even Clark who can all get a few.

By the way, The Guardian's Michael Henderson gave KP a wicked spray:

One by one, the wheels are falling off their wagon. Although Michael Vaughan may return to lead the side, Andrew Flintoff is a shadow of the giant that slew the Aussies, Steve Harmison has retired from one-day cricket (no great loss there, given his lily-livered performances in the current series), and Kevin Pietersen has been accused by John Buchanan, the Australian coach, of being more interested in his performance than the team's. Pietersen a show-boater? Surely not!

The Pietersen business goes to the heart of the matter, because it exposes the fault lines of a side that has lost its nerve and sense of purpose. Furthermore Buchanan's observations, which were considerably more gentle than they might have been, highlight the chasm that exists not only in performance but also in general attitude between the sides.

Not many people, inside or outside the England dressing room, consider Pietersen to be a natural team player. He is not English, and came to this country in order to be an international cricketer because the financial rewards are so much greater than they are in his native South Africa. In Australia players have always moved state to make the grade, Allan Border and Adam Gilchrist among them, but not Pietersen, who, feeling rebuffed in Durban (the Natal authorities tell a different story), had his eye on England.

In his commercial ambitions he has succeeded handsomely. He is now a rich man, and an increasingly unpopular one, and it doesn't bother him one bit. He has achieved three-tenths of what he sought to accomplish, and his batting, which at its best is very fine, may carry him all the way.

But personal considerations have occluded team goals. Should you doubt that, look at the way he threw away his wicket to Shane Warne in the Adelaide Test when a draw - and a fresh start - lay within England's grasp. No player with a feeling for the team would have committed such an unpardonable blunder. Instead the need for personal glory got in the way.

Pietersen makes much of his friendship with Warne, his team-mate at Hampshire, and a gruesome spectacle it makes, rather like a young fag running errands for a house prefect. He would do much better to establish some firmer associations with his own fellows, not all of whom hold him in the same regard as he holds himself. He can make a start by growing some hair. At the moment he looks like Magwitch.

The difference between Warne, a genuine star, and Pietersen, who likes to imagine he is one, is a matter of temperament as much as talent.

No idea on the light. But in the past England has refused to sign up to a tour condition that has them playing under lights because they don't play white-clothes cricket under lights back home.

Maybe it was Channel Nine who really appealed for the light. They must be getting jack of running the News an hour late.

Tony

While I agree with much of Hendo's assessment of KP, the article is typical Guardianista, oozing with insufferable snobbery.

I mean, who the fuck uses "occlude"?! Why not just say "obstruct"?!

And "Magwitch"? Somebody's a crim because they've got a short haircut? Did Hendo see KP when he looked like a skunk?

That said, the allusion of KP as prefect Warney's fag is priceless.

Tony
A delicate topic
Do you think there is way too much man-hugging in cricket today.
Perhaps they could make a rule about hand-shakes only
And of course a subsection ruling out wet-fish handshakes.

Guardian traits aside - BIG WORDS, sorry, voluminous words are very much their thing and probably the reason they have Gideon Haigh on board, even if he does file some stimulating copy - it's slightly on the nose the way England pick players from virtually anywhere. I can handle the likes of Nasser Hussain playing for England or Sideshow Roy playing for Straya; born, as they were, in one country before quickly moving. But I cavil at the suggestion someone like Stewie Law is elligible to play for England. Same for Geraint Jones. Although my brother reckon's he's in fact a Manchurian Candidate style sleeper, sent to create havok from within English cricket. I lean to the lower rent Telefon.

If it's true what Dave Cowper says "England, overall, is by far the strongest cricketing nation," he said. "They have the best facilities, grounds, wickets, covers, pavilions, hundreds of qualified coaches, plenty of indoor cricket centres and, believe it or not, the best climate." they ought to be able to pick their own players and not cherry-pick the Empire.

I understand why it happens, mind, and it's unlikely the status quo will change, but I don't have to like it.

And before anyone pots me, I never wanted Kepler Wessels to play for us, either.

Chris, I'm an open minded kind of guy; this is the Noughties, afterall. If it's OK to stick your tongue in the skipper's ear, then ten years on, it's certainly OK to embark on a Level 3 high tackle that becomes a slightly vigorous headlock before finally morphing into a robust hug.

Ugh.

Tony

Agree with the facilities bit.

It's the first place I've ever played social cricket on turf pitches.

Dunno what it's like down south but in Qld the pitches are concrete unless you're playing grade.

Just back from the SCG. In the Members but the unshaded bit near the sight screen so thoroughly sunburnt, which is the only proper way to be after the cricket. No great fireworks but a few choice passages and a day at the Ashes is a day at the Ashes.

Did the light opera tribute to The Retirees get on the telly -- ha ha! Daggy in Extremis but I feel a sense of closure. I can move on to acceptance. My mobile phone, where it says the suburb, was displaying messages of thanks to our brave heroes. Thanks Optus. Not as good as Bathurst where it says "V8PartyZone" though.

He makes some good points about the state of English cricket, but for me, Cowper's argument that "England, overall, is by far the strongest cricketing nation" is far from convincing.

He reckons England has got great facilities but then says:

In the main, they come from private schools, which have the best facilities and employ full-time coaches. "Those players proceed to university, then to a career, and star in club cricket."

So these great facilities are only accessible by the toffs and most of those, realistically, won't be considering an uncertain career in cricket. And then of course I read other British journalists raving about how good facilities are here in Australia, so it's a little hard to rely on his observations in that regard. They might have good wickets in Pommy land, but of course that's no preparation for the subcontinent (and Australian wickets are different again in their own way). And his remarks about the number of indoor cricket centres are a little hard to reconcile with his other statement about "the best climate".

But his most laughable observation is that England has only "hundreds of qualified coaches", and yet... those foreigners somehow keep getting the job, don't they?

Cowper points out some seemingly valid problems with the structure of English cricket that definitely need looking into, but even if they solve those, I doubt very much that England has any sort of environmental benefits that will somehow put Australia or a billion Indians in a perilous position.

As to bloody foreigners playing in English cricket, I'm sure it's possible to have too many, but what you really turned down the opportunity to test your mettle with Shane Warne? You can take that to far I'm sure.

Murph, when I was in WA I played cricket on those green fake-grass mats laid on concrete. In fact, in Exmouth during a carnival we played on mats on top of the turf. It's the only place I've ever been run out without facing off the first ball of an innings. I digress. Back in Melbourne I've only ever played on turf. That's at both school and in local sub-district.

The thing is, though, everywhere I've been it's easy to get a game of cricket no matter the standard of the field/pitch.

Hmm, I had a point there, but I dunno where it went.

Sorry about typos. I wandered off the topic myself mid-draft and some extra words escaped the editing process.

Did you get to do the SightScreen Shuffle, Amanda? It's nearly as much fun as the Wave.

We were indeed regaled with the opera dude's poygnant offerings even though I wasn't actually sure what to make of it. Fortunately Tubbs and The Dick were on hand as music affycondos to tell us "Wasn't that something!" So, I'm assuming it was something.

Speaking of marketing ploys, you mightn't have been able to see the three 3 signs on the field Thx Shane, Thx Glenn & Thx Justin.

Barmy Army.

Barmy Army.

Barmy Army.

Barmy Army.

Repeat.

No worries, FM, and I'm sure Dave Cowper won't mind that you completely took him to pieces. Dismantled him. Well done.

Not that he'd mind. He only reads this blog during leap years divisible by eight.

(I think my previously elusive point had something to do with toffs and the weather.)

frn

There are plenty of parks in the UK, even in central London. They are completely under-utilised for the purposes of playing sport - whether it be organised or social.

I go for a run at Blackheath/Greenwich every Saturday morning. In Greenwich Park, there are exactly zero games of sport being played. Occasionally, there are several games of poofball played on The Blackheath.

The rugby field and cricket pitch in Greenwich park are almost never used.

The situation is pathetic.

Its a matter of culture more than anything. Many kids in Australia grow up wanting to wear the baggy green (no Gnome jokes please) whereas many kids in England are dreaming of playing for Man U, Chelsea or the national football side. The hidings we have been dishing out to the Poms for the past 18 years haven't helped change that perception obviously but 2005 might have changed things slightly.

That's the most disappointing part about this tour from England. Had they performed well, we might have seen the next Warne pop up in a couple of years for the Poms. As it stands now, he'll probably be overweight, smoking 80 darts a day and shagging 4 different birds a week that he met at the Flag pub in Macclesfield.

Adsy

"many kids in England are dreaming of playing for Man U, Chelsea", true but they make no genuine effort as an Australian kid would.

One of the most depressing things about council estates is the proliferation of signs stating "NO BALL GAMES". Says it all really.

Ball games are banned but standing around in menacing groups, haranguing passers by for smokes and being a pack of smart-arses to all and sundry doesn't so much as raise an eye-brow.

No sports in Greenwich Park? One of my enduring memories of that place is having routinely to dodge inexpertly thrown boomerangs as I marched along in the middle of winter. I've never since felt so athletic!

To be really good at something, you have to commit to it as a youngster, and keep on doing it. Whether or not its batting, bowling, playing football, or whatever.

That's not something that sits well with middle-class English sorts, who revere ironic detachment above all else.

I also think that Australia's cricket community is increasingly working-class or redneck in composition. Could be the same process at work. Not sure that I like this trend.

Interesting 1st days play. Watched it with some of the locals up here playing Dueling Banjos, taking pot shots at the wildlife from the back of a Hilux jacked up with Old Man Emus, and ma Maw an Paw serving up the vittles. All I can say about KP is that he looks mighty damn pretty in them thar duds of his. Sure would like to get me some.

Anyway, new ball almost due and 1 wicket till we are in to the tail. Bell said that he reckons 350 is a good score on this pitch. I reckon that's at least 50 short.

Here's my Jonah: poms all out around 300. Oz get a 100+ run lead and rout the poms in the 2nd innings. Either an innings victory or a 6 wicket win. Yeehaw!

More pork pies from Hawkeye.

http://content-aus.cricinfo.com/ci/content/image/274897.html

Ian Bell was apparently bowled by a ball that was going over the top.

Oooh! Ahhh!

Did you hear Slats talking about them cutting the grass that has grown overnight?
Back to school for you boyo

Thankyou, thankyou, please...save your applause. The 2nd stage of my prediction is still yet to materialise, though come it will.

I will wait with baited breathe for pat, while he examines the entrails. I'm glad I don't have to clean them up afterwards though.

The chook has been gutted already - the 2nd stage, as predicted above, is "Oz get a 100+ run lead..."

If you would like player by player predictions I can do tarot, otherwise you will need to supply me with poultry.

I just examined a bowl of Connoisseur Chocolate Honey Nougat ice cream. The smeary bowl tells me I'm no longer hungry.

PS: That Hawk Eye cracks me up.

Here's the difference for me between England and Australia this series. At 3/150, I feel like Australia is well set for a 400+ innings. At 3/150, I feel like England are in trouble. But that's probably the difference between having a bottom 5 that can contribute a few runs and one that adds 4 runs between them.

A riddle:

~~ What's the difference between a Pom batting at No.5 and a Pom batting at No.11?

~~ About half an hour.

I'm only taking credit for cutting and pasting.

Q. What do Geraint Jones and Michael Jackson have in common?
A. They both wear gloves for no apparent reason.

Q. What is the height of optimism?
A. An English batsman applying sunscreen.

Q. What does Ashley Giles put in his hands to make sure the next ball almost always takes a wicket?
A. A bat.

Q. What would Glen McGrath be if he was an Englishman?
A. An allrounder.

Q. What advantage do Kevin Pieterson, Andrew Strauss and Geraint Jones have over the rest of their team-mates?
A. At least they can say they're not really English.

Q. What is the English version of a hat-trick?
A. Three runs in three balls.

Q. What is the most proficient form of footwork displayed by English batsmen?
A. The walk back to the pavilion.

Q. Who has the easiest job in the English squad?
A. The guy who removes the red ball marks from the bats.

Q. What does "Ashes" stand for?
A. Another Sad Horrific English Series.

Q. What's the English version of LBW?
A. Lost, Beaten, Walloped.

Q. Who spends the most time on the crease of anyone in the English team?
A. The person who ironed the cricket whites.

The Poms rain dance appears to have worked. It's about 3 weeks too late though.

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