From despair to where? (er, Sydney actually): Melbourne Ashes Test, 26th to 31st December 2013

As originally posted on my Tumblr site just after the events of each Ashes Test in 2013/14 – this is a summarised version of my time in Melbourne focusing mainly on my cricket watching rather than other adventures there.  Cricinfo match scorecard here

So, I’ll say this straight up – England’s defeat in Melbourne was probably the hardest of all so far to take, as this was a game we should (or certainly could) have won, unlike the first 3 Tests where we were comprehensively outplayed. The changing nature of the Test did however at least mean this was a contest and Friday (day 2 of the Test) was a superb, unforgettable day all round. Then came Saturday unfortunately. But I’m getting ahead of myself – let’s start with Boxing Day first.

2013-12-26 10.36.32

Boxing day at the MCG

The Boxing Day Test at the MCG is such an iconic cricket occasion that this was the day/match I was most looking forward to, even despite England’s woeful current form. The walk to the ground from the city was charged with real excitement, with a world record crowd attendance for a Test match anticipated (and duly delivered, with a final attendance of 91,092, so about three times the capacity of Lords for example). Alastair Cook losing the toss for the fourth time in a row just as I arrived wasn’t the greatest start to the day, but with Michael Clarke sending England into bat, at least this offered the potential for this Test to be different to the previous three, which have all followed similar stories after Australia batted first. Actually, although the in-ground atmosphere was pretty good, Boxing Day was actually a pretty slow day of “real Test cricket” with England grinding out runs at a fairly slow pace. Not that this Englishman was complaining – give me slow, grinding runs over an England collapse anyway. That would have to wait till the third day on this occasion.

2013-12-26 17.22.56

Strewth – that’s a lot of people watching a Test match

I also headed back to Richmond on Boxing Day night to see another Aussie mate, Richard, who was going to see a couple of blues bands at the Corner Hotel, quite a well-known mid size venue (and soon to play host to the likes of Kurt Vile, Sebadoh and Public Enemy, who I think will have problems fitting onto the somewhat compact stage). Not quite my cup of tea musically, but enjoyable enough and good to see Richard again and meet some of his friends, plus his English brother-in-law who was over for the holidays and is an Ipswich Town season ticket holder – small world and all that…

And so to Friday: day two of the Test. After a small but not really too costly Mitchell Johnson tail-polishing spell at the start of the day, England’s bowlers went through the Aussies to leave them firmly in control at the end of the second day. This was more like it! Finally, a chance to really cheer the team, and amongst another huge crowd of 78,000 (and I would guess about 15,000 of them being English). We all know this didn’t turn out well but it did provide a glimpse into what might have been at least. During the day and then later on that night, I caught up with an old work friend, Chris who is now living in Hong Kong and was just over for the Melbourne Test. We had a superb night out in Melbourne, toasting the boys, meeting/annoying a variety of new people (including Chris at one point producing a photo of him with Ian Botham, having encountered him in a room above a pub we were drinking in). I think the night ended with me on the dance floor of some ropey boozer punching the air to the Human League with about 50 other English types. A brilliant day and night anyway – most enjoyable overall day of my time here so far I would say.

Then came Saturday. Despite a fairly epic hangover, I still made it to the MCG for the first ball, so I was in time to see England’s nemesis Brad Haddin add 40 valuable runs with Nathan Lyon for their last wicket. No matter: a first innings lead of over 50 runs was still looking pretty good and even better with Alastair Cook in good touch to make a half century as England started their second innings. Then it just all went wrong – a couple more batting collapses with only KP offering resistance and then within half a day, we had basically lost the game, confirmed the next day as Australia were helped by England missing three simple chances in the first hour, as the game finished in three and a half days, the shortest of the tour so far. I’m writing this travelling to Sydney and have to say I can see no hope at all for avoiding a 5-0 clean sweep now. We had our chance in Melbourne and we blew it – I don’t think we’ll even get a chance in Sydney. Maybe we can finally win a toss however, that would be something.

2013-12-24 10.18.38

Sat on the players’ balcony while doing the Melbourne Cricket Ground tour on Christmas Eve, I was asked to “celebrate” by the Aussie tour guide: “mate, you’ll be the only pom celebrating here for the next week”.  Even at the time, I suspected this would be true

2 thoughts on “From despair to where? (er, Sydney actually): Melbourne Ashes Test, 26th to 31st December 2013

  1. Pingback: My Ashes diaries from Australia: 2013/14 | NLTFC: No Longer Teenage Fan Club

  2. Pingback: Melbourne Director’s Cut: 19th December 2013 to 1st January 2014 | No Longer Teenage Fan Club

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s