Another Ashes Test, another easy win for Australia. This could get boring if our favourite national pastime wasn’t making Poms suffer.
The drubbing has been so emphatic that a colleague not generally known for her tolerance of Englishmen on the sporting field admitted midway through day four to feeling strange pangs of sympathy for our visitors. She snapped out of it without the need for physical intervention but it set an unnerving precedent.
Others have suggested that the series might have been more entertaining had it been closer. This too is beyond comprehension. There is nothing on this planet more entertaining than watching Poms get belted, especially in cricket. The Ashes, after all, has its origins in England’s first loss to Australia on home soil, way back in 1882. It is a contest founded on English ineptitude and we should honour that noble cause. Certainly the English cricketers have done so on this particular tour of duty.
There has been much to enjoy about this Test. Our batting. Our bowling. Our fielding. George Bailey taking James Anderson’s bowling apart in one singular over. The Superglue on our hands every time we went for a catch. The Vaseline on English hands on the rare occasions we presented them with a chance. Matt Prior’s wicket keeping, a comic turn worthy of a Monty Python cameo. Had me in stitches.
Certain deliveries stand out as well. The first ball of England’s second innings, for one, putting Alastair Cook back in the pavilion without once laying bat on ball. Both of Kevin Pietersen’s dismissals, particularly the rope-a-dope quality of the second.
But by far the best ball of the Test was the toe crusher Mitchell Johnson dished up to dismiss Stuart Broad in England’s first innings.
Broad infamously didn’t walk at Trent Bridge. By the time Mitchell Johnson had finished with him in Perth, he couldn’t walk at all.
There was poetic justice in the delivery, not just because Broad is a big fat filthy cheat but because he’s a serial tosser as well. This is a guy whose pretty boy looks earned him the nickname Baywatch in his youth. Who incites the kind of loathing seen on Tshirts claiming “Broad is a sh*t bloke” and “Cheating is a Broad Church”. Who a leading cricket magazine described as “The Devil Himself”. Who has inspired an “I hate Stuart Broad” Facebook page, evidently hosted by a student from Summer Heights High, “for those who all hate this idiotic bowler from England and also his stupid performances.” Who rarely waits for an umpire to declare an opposing batsman out and puts on an epic flounce when they don’t.
Now, there are some who will say that Broad has been harshly treated for his actions at Trent Bridge. They will ask you to name one cricketer other than Adam Gilchrist who voluntarily walks. They will point to Steve Waugh, who stood his ground in the 2002 Melbourne Ashes Test and later asked the waiting media: “If you’re driving your car over 70 kilometres an hour in a 70k zone, are you going to report yourself to the police station and say you were speeding?”
But there is a big distinction between the two examples. Stick with me while I outline my detailed forensic analysis. Steve Waugh is Australian. Stuart Broad is a Pom. Yep, that about covers it.
With the Ashes secure in Aussie hands once more, the post mortems began. Geoff Boycott said England had “c*cked it up big time”. Piers Morgan said they’d been “weak, gutless and embarrassing”. Like that was news. The BBC noted Pitbull Clarke’s gracious comments that the English had put up a ‘great fight’ and asked: “Is he taking the mickey?” Beaten captain Alastair Cook said his team had not scored enough runs. Genius insight. British commentator and former cricketer David Lloyd said Aussie beer was “all gassy and tastes of nowt”. Meaning it’s not flat and warm, I suppose.
And for those of you feeling a modicum of sympathy for the vanquished, cast your mind back to 2009, 2011 and earlier this year and compare the bitter taste of defeat to what you’re feeling now. Turn your sights to Melbourne and Sydney and think of what we can give our guests for Christmas.
Then repeat after my eight-year-old, who chortled “Take that Poms” as the final wicket fell. And my job as a parent is done.