Australia Tour 2013/14
White Flag of Disgrace
Herbie has now arrived, carrying a low pressure area in his suitcase. From the bright sun we have experienced for the last three weeks, the climate has turned cold and miserable, as if to match the demeanour of the new arrival.
At least Herbie has managed to be polite to the locals thus far. On a tram journey he engaged a Doofy - like individual for 30 minutes all the way to Glenelg. Herbie was spouting such bullsh*t that the other passengers on the tram were in titters, including describing an alleged period of five years when he 'needed to disappear' and joined the French Foreign Legion.
A pleasant afternoon session in the Jetty ensued that day and we were joined by Margaret, Steve and Richard from the Howzat gang. Spud again went AWOL, visiting the medical centre for further tests and the consensus of opinion is that he would be better off not looking at the heart rate monitor he carries on his wrist.
In the evening Mr Blade had bought tickets to see 'Muse' and dragged Mrs B unwillingly along with him - this meant that Herbie, Freddie, myself and a full esky of beer were on baby sitting duty. Thomas dutifully went to bed five minutes early at 8.25 and promptly sent mother an e-mail on his phone:
' I want you to come back - Im scared!'
When the Blades returned from 'Muse', it was obvious that Mr Blade had enjoyed every minute of the concert, judging by his effusive compliments. Personally I had never heard of this group but I suspect we will have to get used to him whistling their songs around the house.
The morning of the Test dawned grey and wet. We waited three quarters of an hour for a 'pre-booked' taxi to eventually turn up and found our seats in the Oval, which now resembles a large football stadium - terribly sad to see what the developers have done here in the interests of increased football income from the two Adelaide AFL clubs.
We were in our seats for precisely one over before the first rain break, which led to an exodus to an indoor bar and then, at lunch, The Cathedral pub.
We never returned to the ground that day and instead a heavy drinking session ensued for the rest of the afternoon and evening.
Wayne, Lofty, a monitor-free Spud and Five-O - the latter wearing a jacket with more creases than an origami competition - joined the Blades, Herbie, Freddie and myself in a lager frenzy which went on, and on, and on.
During the night, very sadly, Nelson Mandela passed away.
During the following morning, England's chances of winning this match also passed away, thanks to yet another lacklustre session. Tired bowling, dropped catches, sloppy fielding, and a 'wicket' from a no-ball by Ben Stokes, who was found to be way over the line on replay.
Throughout, Michael Clarke and Brad Haddin plundered runs at an alarming rate from the hapless Panesar and all in all the second morning was an unmitigated disaster, serving only to guarantee increased beer sales to the Barmy Army in The Cathedral during the afternoon.
Thankfully, I was not there to witness this display in person, suffering as I was from a combination cold and hangover from the previous days antics. I stayed at the Blades house that day, greeting yesterdays taxi, which turned up unexpectedly today at 9am, and watching the game on TV.
A night out in the Elephant for everyone else. Lofty solved the lack of table space in the pub by marching up to a table full of already seated Japanese and plonking a 'reserved' sign on it. Well and truly 'annexed' and small revenge for Singapore. Freddie fell asleep in the taxi on the way home then bounced off his airbed like a trampoline when eventually turning in, waking me up in the process.
Day three of the cricket - just when you thought things could not possibly get any worse, they did. Carberry and Bell apart, the batting display from our team was appallingly bad.
Another woeful, cowardly collapse in the face of nemesis Mitchell Johnson.
Humiliating, and it made you ashamed to be English. The white flag being hoisted.
As Herbie put it after we had left the ground early:
" There's a f*cking limit to your tolerance. That was just f*cking sh*t."
The comment was about as erudite as the England performance deserved.
Herbie's day didn't get any better as we travelled back to Henley Beach in a maxi - taxi for a barbecue at the Blades after the game. The driver pulled up suddenly at a junction having shot a red light and Herbie, without the benefit of a seat belt, ended up arse over tit on the floor of the minibus. Cue terminal whiplash injuries. Where are 'Injury Lawyers 4 U' when you really need them?
On day four of the game we thought we were in for more of the same after Australa declared overnight and Cook & Carberry were out to ill-advised shots, but solid innings by Root and Pietersen restored some sanity to the day. Prior and Stokes also enjoyed decent time at the crease later, and we left the ground with England on 247-6 hoping that rain would intervene on the final day.
An outdoor barbecue at Bill and Alex's house in Belair followed that evening with a wonderful meal for both ourselves and the mosquitoes, who, judging by the size and quality of the human offering, must have thought it was Christmas dinner time.
Even the normally impervious Freddie and Mr Blade received several bites.
Our hungry insect friends drew the line at Herbie, however, and he remained bite free.
It was Thomas Blades 8th birthday and Alex kindly provided a birthday cake in England colours - after this Thomas played the quizmaster, reading out questions from the caps of empty Hahn Superdry bottles. The look on Glen and Julies face when he matter-of-factly read out:
"How many positions are there in the Karma Suteria?"
Was a picture. Walt nailed the answer at once - "four".
Rain arrived on day five but in insufficient quantity to save England and our innings subsided.
Australia thus went 2-0 up, and as the excuse book was once again dusted off and brought out of the drawer - while the Barmy Army sang " With Cook our captain we'll take the urn home" - I reflected on my more negative, but perhaps more realistic, view of proceedings.
Regular readers of this diary will know that I have been harbouring grave reservations about this team and its 'Management' for quite a while now - since the January 2012 UAE thrashing by Pakistan in fact - and a feeling of despair about England's performances has begun to take root in me.
The pathetic rubbish we have had to sit through during most of this game is just the latest chapter in a chronicle of decline.
It is almost as though Australia have somehow suddenly become a great, invincible team. They haven't. England's performance has quite simply declined to shocking levels and there seems to be a general malaise running throughout the team.
Sir Ian Bothams forecast of a 5-0 series is about to be proved correct - but in favour of Australia.
The chickens are well and truly home to roost.