Monday, 20 July 2009

And did those feet...

When Ivo goes back with the urn, the urn;
Studds, Steel, Read and Tylecote return, return;
The welkin will ring loud,
The great crowd will feel proud,
Seeing Barlow and Bates with the urn, the urn;
And the rest coming home with the urn.

Anyone who knows me will tell you that I'm not the most patriotic person. There's plenty about the modern Englishman that I hate - the 'little ingerlunder' syndrome and the distinct lack of respect for other cultures that pervades many these days. I don't follow the English football team and I only mildly follow the England/Great Britain RL side. I don't follow the Union team, either, but that's mainly because I can't stand the sport anyway. However, there is one team and one event inparticular that brings out the Englishman in me.

And here we are, two games into the biggest sporting event of the summer, year, century, millenium and so on. Well, since the last Ashes series and until the next one, that is. The hype before this series has been phenomenal. The "Spirit of 2005" and so on. Funny how nobody's mentioned the last series in Australia though, isn't it? And there was people hyping England up beyond imagination, whereas most of us weren't giving us a chance in hell.

So we moved onto Cardiff. And thought we had a reasonable first innings score. Until the Aussies looked like they could bat on to a 1000 runs. Heroics from Collingwood, Panesar and Anderson saved the day and pushed Ponting into a hell of a wobbly at the end of the game. Now if there's anyone out there who's the last person to babble on about the "Spirit of Cricket" then it's that tosser. And I'm privileged to be able to say I was there for the last day. Although, those of you who actually read this thing regularly will already know that from the last photo entry. A marvellous day's entertainment.

And so we moved onto Lord's. The ground where we hadn't beaten Australia since 1934. Again, we got a good total in the first innings, but was it going to be enough? One fantastic spell of bowling later and another decent knock to put the game seemingly beyond Australia (I never doubted the follow-on decision, honest...) and everyone said yes, it was. Until the fourth day finished with them 313-5 and everyone getting a wee bit twitchy. Thank God Flintoff and Swann did the business this morning, then. The hoodoo broken and a stranglehold on the series. Marvellous.

So, where does that leave us? Well, who knows. Brett Lee threatens to come back at some point, which will turn the Aussies into a different animal. But, if we can keep a fit side together and keep the momentum going, then... Well, we've got a good chance. I'd quite happily have it piss down for the next few weeks instead, mind.

Come on the England.

Wednesday, 8 July 2009

Build me up, Buttercup...

The teams I support have a nasty tendency to build me up before bringing me back down to Earth with an almighty crash. This weekend has provided a perfect example of that with Salford RLFC putting in a fantastic performance and beating St. Helens and Lancashire CCC crashing and burning in the Friends Provident Trophy Semi Final.

Salford don't seem to know what kind of a team they are. We've beaten Leeds away, Hull away in the Cup, Huddersfield away before capitulating to them at home, Bradford at home, Saints at home after doing poorly in the away game, Warrington at home... Yet we've put in some poor performances elsewhere when you'd think we should've stood a chance. This weekend has built everyone up and people are getting a little carried away in some sections. Yet you know we'll probably struggle away at Celtic this weekend. Ah well, it promises to be a good weekend away, but more of that later.

Lancashire. Such a wonderful start to the season. A start that promised so much and now? Well, poor form in the Championship was no real surprise I guess but Sunday's meek surrender to Hampshire was just horrible. Putting them into bat in glorious sunshine was the first mistake. Batting poorly and not looking urgent in the run chase was the second. Dreadful. Still, Worcestershire at OT this week in a Championship game starting Friday. If we can't beat them then we are in trouble. Hopefully we'll have a points-fest to get a bit of confidence back in the camp.

And I finish with a mention of the Ashes and the weekend ahead. I'm currently watching England struggle through against the Aussies in the hope that they can drag this game out as long as possible. Not just to save the game, but also that after the Celtic Crusaders game on Saturday I'll be stopping over in Cardiff and going to the fifth day on Sunday. Promises to be a marvellous time, I just hope I see some cricket and something good for England.

But, once again, it's them hopes being built up. Don't break my heart...