Cricket World Cup: Australia & New Zealand 2015
Disgusted Down Under
Kia Ora All.
To think I declined an invitation to go to Sri Lanka with the Addis Army boys to watch England lose meaningless one-day cricket games.
Now I find myself alone in rainy Wellington, New Zealand,having seen England lose two meaningful World Cup games-in fairly disastrous style.
The story so far...............
I flew over from Manchester on the 6th February - probably not the most auspicious choice of date for air travel for a Manchester United supporter.....!
The plane was a revelation - an Airbus 380, otherwise known as a 'Flying Taproom'.
Can you imagine a stand - up bar serving free alcohol for nine hours at 38,000 feet?
Neither could I, and needless to say I was more than a little woozy on arrival at Dubai after the first leg of the marathon flight.
On the next leg to Melbourne I was unexpectedly joined in the cabin by ex-cricketer and tv presenter Paul Allott, and it was gratifying to hear that he was every bit as optimistic about England's chances in the forthcoming festival of cricket as I was.
Arrival in Melbourne meant a reunion with my old friend Lord Lofty of Guernsey and after a brief hiatus at the Avis Office trying to find each other we picked up our hire car and headed off into the Outback for the first part of our tour - a six day road trip along the Great Alpine Road - similar to the Great Ocean Road, but with no water.
Our first stop was Beechworth, an old gold-mining town, where we ere regally treated by our motel hosts Anne and Bill Bell to free lifts into town and later an evening kangaroo spotting tour after we had staggered jet-lagged and disorientated late afternoon from the Beechworth Brewery.
Earlier in this establishment we had been accosted by three drunken middle-aged Australian males.
"Hello, pleased to meet you Poms, my name is Michael Clarke" said the biggest of the three.
"Very pleased to meet you old chap" I said . " Geoffrey Boycott."
Strangely enough, Michael Clarke was this guys real name, and a weirder start to an Australian trip is hard to imagine.
On the road for the next few days and the Great Alpine Road lived up to all expectations as we traveled through odd places like Bright, Omeo, and Hotham , which is situated half-way up an Australian Alp but still has its own airport - which is I gather much busier than the one on Guernsey. No problems about extra runway protesters here - there aren't any people for nine months of the year!
We turned north just before the coast and headed back inland to see the magnificent Buchan caves, and enjoyed a thrilling underground odyssey lasting 45 minutes which featured Lord Lofty displacing million-year old stalactites from the rock ceiling with his head - to the accompaniment of loud expletives from Lofty and groans from our guide.
Then came my first little mistake of the tour.
Deciding to head north to the Snowy Mountains we took a C - road from Buchan to Jindabyne. This looked okay on the map, but as the road surface got worse, then ran out altogether as we climbed higher and higher into the National park, Lofty was not best pleased. His blood pressure was rising faster than the temperature outside our vehicle, and then...... it happened.
Driving along a sandy track suitable only for 4WD vehicles in our Toyota Corolla with a thousand foot drop to our left, suddenly a baby kangaroo jumped down from out of the trees and hit the drivers side of our car. With Lofty driving as usual like Dick Dastardly, poor little Joey did not stand a chance, and thus Lofty has become the very first Official Addis Army Marsupial Murderer.
Eventually, we arrived safely in Jindabyne , and the next day we drove up to Wagga Wagga, which at the risk of offending any overly politically correct readers I would point out is is actually pronounced 'Wogga Wogga' by the locals. Not a lot going on in Wogga, so we drove another 100km to Narrandera, where there was even less going on, but I did see the Worlds Largest Playable Guitar - which is on display in the Tourist Information Office. A bit like displaying Liberace's gold piano in Northern Alaska.
Next, down to Melbourne where we met the Blade family for the weekend. The much-awaited reunion was spoiled by a desperately poor display by England in their first proper game against Australia.
Outclassed and out gunned in every department, only James Taylor's resolute innings prevented the game from descending into a total rout. Little did we know, that would come just a few days later.
England were quite simply a shambles and I was very glad to travel down to New Zealand to see the West Indies v Ireland game. I'm sure you all know that a surprise occurred here , but this was not as big a surprise as that waiting for me at my B & B when I finally arrived after the match at 8pm.
The notice in my room read " We have a swimming pool. The wearing of swimming costume by the pool or in the motel is not compulsory......"
Bloody hell, Swingers!
At least three times I was entreated by the motel owning married couple to skinny dip, despite the lateness of the hour, and the fact that I now weigh in at about seventeen stones.
In the morning at breakfast I met a young cricketer called Danny from Huddersfield ,here with his girlfriend Lauren, who both amazingly knew the Jesse Ryder friends described in "Disgruntled Down Under".
Danny was,in fact,playing for Nae Nae the next weekend at their home ground in Wellington - and we were duly invited to attend. More of this later!
On leaving Nelson the West Indian squad were at the small airport and we had photos taken with Clive Lloyd ( glum ) and Chris Gayle ( supercool and happy ) which was a highlight.
Back then to Wellington and a shock awaited us.
Wayne, our Addis Army Welshman, had been supposed to join us here for the NZ game but he had been hospitalized in Melbourne when a piece of meat became lodged in his esophagus.
On informing Tremers, his good mate, of this catastrophe, a suitable level of sympathy was shown, and then the discussion focused upon the type of meat involved.
I ventured that it might be a piece of lamb.
Tremers: "No, he's Welsh. He would have got something stuck in the lamb.....!"
Excitement mounted as we waited for the next ODI against New Zealand, but once again our loyal support was abused totally by the England players and management with the most disgusting, cowardly performance I have ever seen on tour. Wayne did not join us until the day after the match, and it turns out that the doctors and nurses in Melbourne did him a great service in delaying his arrival in Wellington so that he was able to miss this garbage.
He can even claim back the cost of his f***ing match ticket on his travel insurance!
As Brendan McCullum dissected the England bowling 'attack' for a record win, the text messages started to arrive.
Mr Blade "Stuart Broad should never play for England again after that shot".
I totally agree with you Mr Blade, although I suspect we will not be granted our wish.
During the absurd innings break with NZ needing about 12 to win, half the crowd left, and Lofty and I moved our seats to just behind the pavilion to get somewhat closer to our beloved team and their wonderful coach.
All you Poms at home can rest assured that Lofty & I left them all in no doubt that their performance was....ahem....sub-standard. Sharp eared readers may even have heard my dulcet tones during the Eoin Morgan post-match interview.
Apparently,even Bumble was looking for a secluded place to drink after the game, as far away as possible from any England fans. I do not blame him.
The next day feeling thoroughly depressed, Lofty and myself duly visited Nae Nae CC to see Danny ( who we met in Nelson, above ) and our friends from the previous NZ trip - Silver Dave, Tinkle and Baz, and we were rewarded quite amazingly with good chats with Ewen Chatfield and Jesse Ryder, who both turned up during the day.
I even had a drink with Jesse - but alas,he was only drinking water!
Wayne and Lord Lofty should now have landed safely in Christchurch for the next England debacle.
I am giving it a miss, so I will sign off , but for those still curious about Wayne----it was the last piece of steak off the barbecue that did it!