Brian Micklethwait's Blog
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- Bell end?
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- Standing on boxes to interview Irfan
- What is this iceStone device?
- Filling in a Meaningless Triangle near Kensington High Street tube
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6000 Miles from Civilisation
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Category archive: Australasia
Busy day, by my unbusy standards. Inability to contrive clever words. Search through recent photos. One jumps out at me:
Begin to write something clever, but it doesn’t cohere. Give up. Good night.
I’m talking rugby, not life. If you came here because of the above headline but care only about life, relax, the Northern Hemisphere is safe. It isn’t being culled. It is merely that the Northern Hemisphere’s rugby teams haven’t been doing very well in the Rugby World Cup, which is now taking place in England.
Watching Ireland lose to Argentina had me conflicted, as they say. On the one hand, another Home Nation succumbs to a Southern Hemisphere monster. But on the other hand, England don’t now need to feel quite so bad. Wales knocked out England by a whisker, and that was disappointing. But England, Wales, and now Ireland, all got beaten by Southern Hemisphere sides.
And if Scotland do anything different against Australia in the last of the quarter-finals, about to be played, it will be a major upset.
England merely got the same bad news just the one game earlier.
Which means that, unless Scotland have entirely failed to read this script, the semis will be NZ v South Africa, Australia v Argentina. These four teams have their own tournament every year, in their own stadiums. Now, they are having another such tournament, in England.
As for France, well, they have done almost as badly as England, and perhaps worse. They beat their minnows, as England did. But, like England, they lost very upsettingly in the group stage to a home nation, Ireland in their case, and they were then completely shredded by the All Blacks. Many neutrals had hoped for a repeat of 1999 or 2007. By the end, even the humiliation of NZ only winning by one mere point in 2011 was expunged from the record. This time around, the margin was: 49.
John Inverdale told a good joke after England got beaten by Australia 13-33. He was in a taxi afterwards with a couple of England supporters, and one of them said: that was as bad as 1066. Not really, said the other. It was only 1333.
But 1362 (the year of the battles of Brignais and of Launac (blog and learn)) is quelque chose else again. And if an All Black hadn’t dropped the ball just as he was about to score yet another try right at the end, it would have been 1367 or 1369, years in which other things presumably also happened in France.
LATER: Scotland have NOT been reading the above script. They now lead Australia 34-32 with five minutes to go. In-obscene-present-participle-credible.
But, penalty to Australia. They lead 35-34 with a minute to go. End. “Southern Hemisphere clean sweep”, see above.
The platinum blonde woman who sings the introductory song sounds very unmusical and strangulated to me. When she sings “A new age has begun”, it sounds like “Anewwayjazzbeegun”, with no breaks between words at all. Very peculiar. I now learn that I am not the only one to be unhappy about this singing.
My first observation of the actual rugby: lots of handling errors. My impression is that the balls are bigger, fatter, lighter, bouncier, a bit like balloons. So, when they hit your chest they don’t just stick there, they bounce off your chest and you’ve dropped it.
How good were Japan? Yes, very good. But. But. How bad were South Africa? Very, very bad. There is a back story there, which the television commentators I am hearing seem extremely anxious not to discuss. It’s all: the mighty Boks. Apparently, they haven’t persuaded enough black men to play rugby, and racial quotas are deranging and demoralising them. “Political football” etc. Lawrence Dallaglio mentioned this stuff once, in passing, speaking of them “falling off tackles” (I think that was the phrase). Of not really trying, in other words. Other than that, nothing. Japan got totally stuffed by Scotland yesterday, 45-10. Okay, the Japanese hadn’t had much of a rest. But even so, a bizarre result, unless Japan beating South Africa was at least as much because South Africa were bad as because Japan were good. Scotland v South Africa might be … very interesting.
I really like London’s new Olympic Stadium. Whenever I saw it before, it contained the 2012 Olympics, and I hate the Olympics so much that I couldn’t see how very nice the stadium is. Now I can see this. I think I now prefer the inside of the Olympic Stadium to the inside of New Wembley. The only interesting thing about New Wemley is the big arch, seen from the outside. That’s terrific. One of London’s great new landmarks. But the inside of New Wembley, which I have actually visited in person, is very dreary. But maybe I was just in a bad mood, on account of it being football, and on account of this idiot jumping about in front of me whenever anything faintly interesting happened, so I had to either get up off my seat to see anything, or remain seated and in ignorance.
England look okay to me, but okay presumably won’t be enough to win. But then again, most other teams seem only okay also. Except the All Blacks of course. How will they contrive to lose this tournament, I wonder? They usually seem to find a way. Last time around, they did win, but only by one point.
The day I spent at the Oval with Darren last Monday was enjoyable for me in so many ways. I am now definitely considering becoming a Surrey Member myself next season, a snip at just under two hundred quid. Seriously, that’s how great a day it was for me. But it was not quite the day that I had been expecting.
The thing was, Surrey had, after many disappointments in the recent past, finally been promoted just three days earlier. Half way through the game against Derby, the reportage was all about how well Derby had been doing. But the Surrey first innings tail did not so much wag as flail like the tail of a crocodile, and then the Surrey spinners polished Derby off on day four, to win the game by an innings and plenty, with several hours to spare.
So, last Monday, I was expecting the Oval to be seething with boisterous celebration. But once the game began, I soon realised that this was not going to happen. The place was that far from being deserted, and looked even more sparsely populated from where Darren and I were at first sitting, what with the bulk of the Surrey support being below us and out of our sight.
The thing about last Monday was that it was on a Monday. And why this game, of all games, on a Monday? A semi-final of the annual 50-50 county tournament ought surely to be staged at a time when regular people can show up to watch it, shouldn’t it? So, why wasn’t it?
The answer of course is: television:
That’s Gary Wilson of Surrey striding off at the end of the Surrey innings (they batted first), doing a great job of pretending that the TV guy who is poking his huge camera in his face just isn’t there.
These are not the kind of pictures of cricket that you usually see, are they? Usually, you see only the sort of pictures that this TV guy himself is taking, not pictures of him. He is not supposed to be part of the story which he is, so very obtrusively, helping to tell. Yet even the very day on which this match took place cannot be explained without reference to that TV guy, and all his mates.
That’s a picture, taken moments later, of Sky TV discussing that Surrey first innings with Notts fast bowler and recent England Ashes hero Stuart Broad. What did Broad say? I don’t know. I wasn’t watching this game on my telly. I was merely there.
But why Monday, rather than Sunday or Saturday? I mean, more people watch the telly at the weekend, surely. Well yes, they do. And Sky TV did indeed show the first semi-final on Sunday. (Yorkshire, crowned only days later as the 2015 champions of the four day game, were beaten in this first semi-final by Gloucester, with surprising ease.) So, why not the other semi- between Surrey and Notts, on the Saturday?
Because on Saturday, Sky TV were showing the second England v Australia ODI, and there would be no point in Sky buying both those games if they had happened on the same one day. So, the other semi- got shoved over to Monday. The schools were back at school. Workers were back at work. But, television rules.
So this was mostly an Old Geezer day, from the live spectator point of you. But, despite all those empty seats, this particular Old Geezer had a terrific time, not least because of all those TV cameramen whom I was able to take photos of.
I promise nothing, but I do now hope that there’ll be a whole lot more to follow about this marvellous day out.
Australia’s first innings, in this game, has got off to a shaky start:
. 4b W 2 4 W | . W . 4 1nb . . | . . . W . 4lb | . . . 1 1 . | W
Broad has four wickets. Wood has only one, and was responsible for that humiliatingly wicketless fourth over. Extras is doing the best for Australia.
England are clearly missing Jimmy Anderson. If he had been bowling first up instead of Wood, Australia could have been in serious trouble.
Australia, at the start of the seventh over, now 27-6. Clarke out to Broad, who now has five, with just nineteen balls. Before that, yet another wicketless over from Wood.
To be a bit more serious, this is the kind of blog posting I do for myself, to put alongside postings like this one, because goodness knows, there’ll be plenty of other people writing about this. File under: my heart, warming the cockles of. I missed the first two wickets on the radio, because I was having a quick piss. Happy day.
But here, as my Aussie friend Michael Jennings likes to say, ‘s the thing. When Australia smash England, they do it five nil. When England smash Australia, which is what looks to be happening now, it’s usually something more like three one. Have we ever beaten them five nil? Ever?
Meanwhile, more consolation for England fans like me. Australia now 33-7. Nevill bowled Finn. But, as has just been pointed out by the radio commentators, in his previous over, Broad, like Wood before him, just bowled an entire over without taking a wicket.
More than the usual number of cock-ups while posting this, I’m afraid, and I expect there’ll need to be further cleaning up. Happy day. So far.
LATER: One of those crazy taken-in-a-pub-at-a-crazy-angle shots of a big pub screen, showing the carnage inflicted upon Australia on Day One of Trent Bridge 2015:
On the right, Sky TV’s Ian Ward, I think. On the left, Broad, I know. 8-15. 8-15.
Australia 1st Innings: 60.
New dwellings and shops behind the facade of an old brewery, and a new power plant on top of it:
Another of those Wicked Camper vans, from the same fleet as this one:
It was never a totally White Van, but someone has painted some white on it.
I recently saw another of these vans with something like “Chuck Norris is the only person who can slam a revolving door”, but my photoing reflexes were too slow to capture it. When I do photo this, I’ll try to remember that I said I might put the picture up here.
I agree with you. Yes, it is a good marketing strategy. Both of us are right about that. And I see that these arseholes have been helping.
Who saw that coming? Not me. Although in my defence, had Haddin not dropped Root on nought when England were 43-3 and would have been 43-4, it would surely have been a very different match (a match which, having not been dropped, Root (134 and 60 and two wickets at the end with his spin) is now presumably the Man of). And, I was definitely not the only one who reckoned Australia to be the stronger team, which they may yet prove to be. Although, this guy hedged his bets and had this to say:
A win for England and the series could be a classic.
I’d settle for a series win for England. Five nil would be nice. (Very nice.)
Meanwhile, as worrying for Australia as this loss is the fact that it looks like their much heralded bowling attack may be falling apart. Harris has retired hurt, and not temporarily. Now Starc is hobbling. Johnson will surely have his moments in this series. (He did today, but only with the bat when it was all over bar Mitchell Johnson having a good day with the bat.)
I started this posting when the ninth wicket fell, in anticipation. The tenth wicket did not cause any delays. England win by 169.
England crush NZ (and Surrey beat Leicester)
First test against NZ – first day
Michael Jennings on the likely progress of the Cricket World Cup
How bet hedging explains the perpetual terribleness of everything
BMdotcom What if? of the day
Some batsman – some neck
Home advantage and hoping for the best in the World Cup
Early tries by my guys
Games lovely games
England crush Australia and keep the Ashes
Gloomy Earl’s Court picture
Broad thrives properly on getting abuse
Ashes black out
Who was the youngest batsman to reach 7000 runs in Tests?
Stuart Broad has a kitten heel
Interesting software NewZ
Australian selection inconsistency and getting the causal link the wrong way round
Quite a morning
Australian cricket is doomed! - or maybe not
Views from Kings College
Carnage at Adelaide
Interwar Old English pub dwarfed by modernity
NZ doing a bit better than England
New bridge in Melbourne
Sportsmanship by us – bullying by them
Boxing Day morning at the MCG
The Green alliance
No wickets in the first over shock
The Ashes: chickens and now a swallow
How quickly the mood can change!
Wagga Wagga has been flooded by the Murrumbidgee River
And it resumes …
A down and up weekend
More blood to Australia
First blood to Australia
Ashes highlights on ITV4
Twenty ten twenty ten
I don’t usually approve of swear blogging but …
Ums and ahs
Surrey are now crap at cricket but they are sitting on a gold mine
Does Google now rule the world of computing?
Stepping forward into the abyss!
In other news …
More recorded cricket chat and some further Oval hindsights
Another Samizdata piece
Dongling at Michael’s
Brisbane church dwarfed by modernity and this posting behaving very strangely
Keith Windschuttle on history - truth - Robert Hughes
A new British citizen
Guido Fawkes gets Douglas Jardine wrong
New Zealand crumple at Trent Bridge
First Jaques – then Ponting – then Katich – then Hussey cleaned up
Fourth innings heroics
More rugby talk
Australia out! – New Zealand out! – pass forward!
Further pictorial shallowness