Australia Tour 2013/14
When an Old Cricketer leaves the crease
My last day in the UK, the 14th November, coincided with the final Test match for Sachin Tendulkar, so instead of packing that morning I settled down on the sofa to watch the Little Master.
What an occasion - he even had the scoreboard sponsored by RBS!
Champions just go hand in hand together don't they?
As Sachin's innings progressed in front of the hysterical Mumbai crowd, punctuated by ' profound ' congratulatory tweets from the likes of Ian Bell and Joe Root, together with other tweets from biased Indian ex-cricketers to the effect that Tendulkar was miles better than Bradman, I found my cynicism level rising empirically.
Before Tendulkar is formally granted status as a deity, I would remind readers that cricketers from earlier generations were not playing frequent test matches against the likes of Bangladesh and Zimbabwe - and so to rely upon statistics alone to evaluate his career could be misleading.
I wonder how Sachin would have fared against 'bodyline' or the feared West Indies pace attack, which by my recollection was running out of steam by the time his career was under way?
Sachin's record is impressive, the problem for me is that he was always too low-profile outside India off the pitch - too 'nice'. Give me the antics of a Boycott or a Botham any time!
However, being present as I was to watch his maiden century at Old Trafford in 1990, it would be churlish of me not to say, through gritted teeth, "Thank you, Sachin..grrr!"
The journey to Australia started with high excitement - not only was I travelling with ETIHAD, the guys who pay for and pick Man City's team every week, but flying 'Lofty' Class to boot, with all the attendant extravagance this entails.
Travelling alone raises ones observation levels so please forgive me if I spend some time detailing my journey. ETIHAD Lofty Class check-in was murder, as I had the bad luck to be queuing behind a chavvy looking guy ( wearing leopard skin tracksuit bottoms ) and his family, taking more gear to the Middle East than John Rambo took to Afghanistan. More worrying for me - he also had two noisy brats in tow, which did not augur well for my seven-hour first leg to Abu Dhabi.
At these flight prices, I must assume that he had just won the Postcode Lottery.
Thankfully, no sign of these brats in the Manchester Airport Lounge, which was aptly called 'Escape'.
After two hours of bland food and lift music that is exactly what I wanted to do.
On boarding the aircraft however - f*ck me. I was literally only five seconds in my seat before the first glass of champagne turned up. The steward took the order for the second round of drinks before the plane lifted off, and again this was delivered almost as soon as the seat belt light went out. Excellent food was to follow, including rack of lamb!
If Man City use this airline for travelling to away games in Europe, then its no wonder their European record is patchy. It must be difficult to play 90 minutes of high intensity football when you are stuffed full of calories and still pissed!
I take my hat off to ETIHAD. As Joe Hart would no doubt say, they are Head and Shoulders above the competition!
Abu Dhabi reminded me of Southport from the air, but with less sand and more sunshine. On landing, I found I was in the wrong Terminal for my onward flight to Sydney, and a fairly chaotic footslog to the correct Terminal ensued.
The lounge at Terminal 3 was chock full of Americans, and the walls reverberated with the sound of English being spoken badly. I was relieved therefore when my plane took off for Sydney in a sandstorm three hours later. During the journey I managed some fitful sleep, waking up in time to watch ESPN Legends of Cricket episode 13 - Jesse Ryder.
At last I arrived in Sydney. The next 'Jetstar' flight to Adelaide was late departing, surprise surprise, and flew over the Adelaide Cricket Ground on its landing approach.
I am sorry to report that just three weeks before the Test, this lovely old ground currently resembles a building site and some serious work is still needed to get it up to scratch for The Ashes.
Mr & Mrs Blade and Thomas were waiting to greet me at the airport, and Mr Blade drove us all in his 'ute' to their new house in Henley Beach. As we passed billboards advertising ' The Samaritans ' I became concerned, but I needn't have worried. Chez Blade is one block away from the Southern Ocean, with an excellent selection of pubs, bars and restaurants nearby - which we sampled in the blazing sunshine on Saturday afternoon while Thomas fulfilled his lifeguarding duties on the beach.
On Sunday we watched Thomas Blade playing cricket for his local side, Western Eagles. The bowlers had an off-day, and so many wides were bowled I can only assume that Mitchell Johnson is now being employed there as a coach.
After the cricket we had a day out at Mount Lofty. This is an elevated viewpoint outside the City with panoramic views of the coast and CBD, which reveal how small and compact Adelaide is compared with the other major cities in Australia.
I think Mount Lofty used to be an active volcano, but like our own Lofty from the Addis Army, its not smoking any more!
Unfortunately, I have been handed a job of work to do before we all travel up to Brisbane.
Due to the sheer number of guests expected during the Ashes, I have been charged with building outdoor accommodation for Herbie to sleep in when he arrives from London - the inside of the house will be full. I have found a nice spot in the back garden close to a termites nest and hope to have the job finished by Wednesday - providing the local shop give me enough cardboard boxes. I want Herbie to feel at home!
A further report will follow from Brisbane and who knows, there may be some cricket content in that one!
Regards, Midnight xx