Cricket World Cup: Australia & New Zealand 2015
Kia Ora all.
Pleasing to note the reaction to England's abject performance from the Cricket Establishment has been so reassuring.
From Doubter of Dobcross:
"There's been nothing on the news about it here, the main headline is that a dog has been poisoned at Crufts."
Here, later than promised, is the final installment of this cricketing car-crash, my review of the final days and matches.
Sri Lanka v South Africa
Today I had a very enjoyable day out with Five-O's relatives, Bill and Alex, who kindly took me for a tour of Willunga followed by a very nice barbecue afterwards, also attended by Mr & Mrs Blade and Thomas.
The game was a one-sided anticlimax and we didn't watch it. South Africa won.
India v Bangladesh
Lofty was in Melbourne to see this game live and he tells me that it was a completely one-sided affair, with Bangladesh for some reason refusing to go for the run chase.
However, Lofty did enjoy himself in the company of the Indian and Bangladeshi fans, who he says were well-behaved and very knowledgeable about cricket. India won.
Australia v Pakistan
I attended this game in Adelaide with the Blades.
Poor batting by Pakistan spoiled the game as a contest, although it was heartwarming to witness Wahab Riaz working over Shane Watson with the most hostile bowling spell of the tournament.
If only that catch at long leg had been held.......if only. Grrr. Australia won.
New Zealand v West Indies
Seen only on tv in Sydney alas, but easily the best batting seen at the World Cup.Two-toes Guptill was sensational, and one could feel the whole nation behind him as he destroyed the West Indian attack. Chris Gayle made a brave effort to chase, to no avail. New Zealand won.
An enjoyable few days in Sydney followed for Lofty and I. The Observer pub featured prominently in our visit and on the NZ v SA matchday we ran into Brett Lee and Michael Vaughan, who were hosting a World Cup Fanzone by Circular Quay.
We had just bought souvenir boomerangs, and the pair happily autographed mine for me.
Brett Lee asked me why I was wearing a New Zealand shirt.
So I told him.
A two-hour train trip to Katoomba in the Blue Mountains proved rather disappointing. On my previous visit in 2006 I remembered the fantastic, evocative views of the mountains and the rustic charm of the town.
Katoomba has now been transformed into the home of the ghastly "Scenic World" where, by installing two cable cars and upgrading a small railway, the Aussies have now converted the place into a dismal theme park. As you would expect, this is inhabited most days by coachloads of jostling Chinese and Japanese tourists literally fighting for the best photo spots on the rides.
One to avoid, unless you blag into the site without paying for the rides (which is easy enough), take a few photos and then escape.
Unfortunately, we paid.
Our trip to "Scenic World" was followed that night by a more enjoyable trip to "Beer and Curry World" at the fantastic 'Bombay Bloomers' in Randwick.
Now as regular readers know I have a low opinion of Australian and New Zealand tv programming, but there is one item being shown regularly that should not be missed.
Those icons of British rock, Status Quo, are featured in an advert for Coles Supermarket, which is selling: "Whatever you want" at prices that are "Down down deeper and down".
Rick Parfitt seems to be enjoying himself immensely prancing around the stage with an electric guitar shaped like a Mickey Mouse hand, but I'm afraid the boys have now lost their place in the Ten Greatest British Rock bands of All Time to the Wurzels, in my humble opinion, for selling out like this.
Semi Final New Zealand v South Africa in Auckland
Seen on tv in Sydney. Best game of the tournament, despite rain delays.
For once, an exciting finish. New Zealand triumphant. Lots of beer!
Semi Final Australia v India in Sydney
A slight problem here in that Mrs Blade had mistakenly bought me a child's ticket costing $30 as opposed to the adult one, costing between $150 and $230.
What to do?
I had considered dressing up as Jimmy Clitheroe and trying to fool the stewards, but in the end I just scanned the ticket bar code at the turnstile and got in.
There were no checking procedures whatsoever.
I found myself in the middle of the most vociferous and objectionable section of Indian supporters.
One guy had a huge flag the size of a tablecloth, which I think he had stolen from the Irish Embassy flagpole, turned sideways, then scrawled a sewing wheel in the middle with a marker pen.
Needless to say this idiot was completely oblivious of the many people sat behind him who had come to watch the cricket but were unable to see the game because of his handiwork.
Even worse was an Indian madman who had been drinking heavily. Each time an Australian wicket fell, he turned round and screamed at the crowd, covering the poor young Australian boy sat behind him, who was about seven, in spittle. I am sure he will be very welcome at Lords in 2019.
The Australian couple sat next to me were equally nonplussed by all this behavior and the quote of the day was from James, a resident of Sydney:
"Just when you thought they couldn't get any more annoying, they bring out a f***ing vuvuzela!
Needless to say Australia won easily, although not before the Indian fans had shown why they do not approve of the DRS system by wildly cheering an 'Umpire's Call on impact' not out decision as they thought the red block showing the ball hitting the wicket alone meant a dismissal.
All it meant, of course, is that they do not comprehend the DRS system.
And so to Melbourne for the grand final.
Melbourne has always reminded me of Manchester, and as our taxi took us from the airport into the city over the Melbournian Way flyover, with docks and container sites the view to the right and cranes and building sites the view to the left, this impression was in no way dispelled.
Later I was informed that the Melbourne Heart football team has allegedly been purchased for thirty camels by the power-hungry Sheikh of Beswick, and is now called Melbourne City FC.
This team now play in Manchester City FC colours.
Add to this the Etihad Stadium, Manchester Unity House, trams, crap weather, Chinatown - I could go on - but I hope you can see where I am coming from!
We met up with the Blades, and a beer frenzy occurred two nights before the final at the Arcadia pub during which I was propositioned by a 60 year old Australian woman (she told me she was 40) with the chat up line:
"Gee, I'm glad there are some other old fogies in here as well as myself."
Mr Blade has a photograph to commemorate this event, but luckily for me his photographic skills are always diminished after three bottles of wine and seven pints of beer.
Lofty bought two further bottles of wine from an off licence but cannot remember when or why, although he managed to get them home safely to his fridge.
We also met a chap called Woody, who was a Port Vale fan, and he told us he would rather be back in Stoke than here in Melbourne.
The Final - Australia v New Zealand - MCG
A hot sunny day with none of the bad weather Manchester, oops sorry Melbourne, is famous for.
We had seats in a 93,000 crowd costing $175 at the top of the Members stand - three rows from the back in fact - so binoculars were needed, but the final was effectively spoiled as a contest in the first over as McCullum took a couple of wild swings at Starc and was then bowled.
The rest - I'm sure you know.
But maybe nobody in the UK saw the ridiculous mascot race during the interval, when a car, a mobile phone, a soft drink bottle, a tv set, a tyre, and a shoe, all raced against each other.
The commercial side of this tournament has been Tacky with a capital T.
I won't mention the trading names of the culprits.
I escaped from the MCG before Michael Clarke got out (deliberately, to milk the applause on his last appearance, Lofty controversially claims!)
Outside I saw an allegory for the whole game.
A pair of drunken aboriginals had set up an electric guitar and amplifier set in the hope of funding an even greater drinking session by busking. The MCG security men tried to move them on and were greeted with :
"F*** awff! You can't do nothing to us, mate!"
Astonishingly, the security guards backed off.
The 'guitar playing' started and believe me, Coles Supermarket will not be hiring this pair for any future advertising initiatives.
Then, a sad young Kiwi lad who had also escaped the MCG early approached the pair, took one of the guitars from the stunned aborigines, and played "Hallelujah" - rather well.
As Aggers might have said had he been there : "Absolutely Lovely."
After the game Lofty and myself visited a late restaurant called 'France Soir' for dinner and our depression was compounded by the appearance of Mark Nicholas, exiting from an ICC funded car and marching into the restaurant in a jubilant manner.
Mr & Mrs Blade and Thomas opted not to indulge in the snails and frogs legs, instead, both parents enjoying half-pint size glasses of wine at our great hotel, The Albany, in South Yarra.
In the morning they told us that they had only drank one each!!
So the most unpopular team ever to win the World Cup (outside of their own supporters) have triumphed.
A snarling, growling, sledging,downright unpleasant group of win-at-all-costers.
All the Kiwi supporters we talked to after the game are hoping we beat Australia in the Ashes this summer, but I suspect they are going to be disappointed again.
Midnight's Team of the Tournament.
Some of you may challenge the last name on that list.
Analysis shows that by taking 1-25 against Afghanistan, Tredders is undoubtedly the best spinner in the World Cup.
I have looked at the data, and it is unimpeachable.
Roll on the West Indies!
Cheers and goodbye.