New Zealand Tour 2008
Horrorshow in Hamilton
Kia Ora all
It’s been some time before I could be bothered to try to rationalise that last performance. Some people have hinted (in not very subtle fashion) that I’m a Jonah and should come home, if that’s so I’m not the only one.
Hamilton started quite well. We had landed in a nice motel run by Jiff and Juciliyn and the night life was okay. Weather perfect and very hot. Lovely young ladies coming round the grass bank every couple of hours with free sun-screen, they were quickly christened the "Slip Slop Slappers" and for some reason the name stuck.
Pitch a bit slow, but no devilry in it. Ground was an old fashioned affair but quite pleasant and it was the first time England had played a test there.
Then the match started.
We were comprehensively outplayed and out thought in all departments by a mediocre side at best. The bowlers who took most of the wickets for NZ would not be able to negotiate even an average contract in English county cricket. But they were up for a scrap.
The only highlight was Sidebottom’s hat trick on day four, which I missed live as like George Best at the 1999 EC final, I had left the ground, but even that made very little difference in the end.
Several unhappy text messages reached me on that fateful last day and the common phrase in nearly all of them was "unacceptable performance".
I’ve been thinking about this - "unacceptable" to whom??
Not the players. They were seen laughing and joking on the balcony during the collapse and the papers the following day printed a front page photo of Vaughan yawning when we were batting (after he was out obviously).
Not The Barmy Army. They were last seen by the side of the pavillion singing MV's praises and songs of support.
Not the management. Haven’t heard a Dicky Bird out of them, except a statement that they were "disappointed that we had fallen behind Easter Island in the world rankings but it was difficult to get run outs and lbw decisions against those big statues".
Not Gullivers. They sat there in silence and probably had one less ice cube in their gin and tonics as a silent protest.
There was however one gem still to come from these worthies. Some of you may remember Simon the Palace fan who we met in SLanka - he was sat behind two Gulliver’s couples during the last afternoon and their conversation as he told us over a pint later went like this:
"Well what are you doing for the next couple of days"
"We don’t know, Gullivers haven’t told us what we are doing yet"!!!!
So what is the remedy for England’s current malaise apart from me flying home? The only thing that occurs quickly to me is that central contracts need critical scrutiny --there seems to be much too much complacency in that team with certain players assured of their spots so long as their face fits with Moores.
I gather it has been a good weekend all round for giant killing and the FA Cup is being renamed the Nationwide - seems strange to see Middlesbrough being referred to in the NZ press as having been giant-killed!
Well that’s enough bad news and gloom. We’ve had some good news too with the discovery that we can get discounted OAP fares for George on the local buses , called "Golden Age" tickets. How pleased he was to be able to save $8 on our bus fares to Taupo from Hamilton.
Simon and myself had to check in on the bus 15 mins before departure but George had to check in 30 mins before to fill out his dietary requirements questionnaire and be helped up the ramp onto the bus.
We are going to try to put him together a Gullivers uniform from any cast off togs we find in the ground!
It’s off jet boating this afternoon, then Willington here we come, flying by tiger-moth or similar from Taupo airport. Only had two nights in Taupo but its an okay place, it isn’t everywhere you can sit by the lake with a pint or two and watch the sun setting over Mordor!!
Fingers crossed for Willington..........!! Not heard yet if Harmison’s going to play..........!!