Wow. What a rough day at work Thursday was. Admittedly I went in a bit late and stayed on a bit later, finishing off a few things leading in to my long weekend! Hooray. Thank goodness for foresight – some months ago I had booked the Friday off meaning I could sit up all night on Day Two without the guilt of having to perform professionally the following day! This will be rare luxury during this series.
My partner and I prepared cannelloni for dinner and set up camp to watch the pre-game show at 1930, loaded with energy drinks spiked with Grey Goose vodka shots. We intended to see Australia fight through the early period and slowly chip away at England’s modest first innings total. Day One was cloudy and the ball moved about like a taped up tennis ball, but Day Two was sunny and dry and looked to favour batting. The pitch was still good.
Steve Smith and Phil Hughes started well enough. However, about 30 mins in the former – who has a bit of tendency to square up – attempted a drive and snicked. OUT. Shit, but OK, Brad Haddin’s in. The old head, a 35 year old keeper brought back from the brink after the dropping of Matt Wade – who under performed in India (but I feel was hung out to dry by being batted at 5 and 6 in that series – never a good thing for a developing wicket keeper).
We’ll all remember what transpired over the next few hours. As Australia deteriorated from 5/108 to 9/117 I slumped further and further down the couch replicating – in reverse – our being’s evolution from protozoa soup to upright, collectively organised, somewhat composed, dominant species.
There’s no contending that at 9/117 we were totally out of the Test Match. Finished. 1-0 down and looking ahead to Lords and discussing who might be in the next team. The implication was that with a 100 run 1st inns lead England’s superior batting would go out and nail 300+, setting us an unachievable target, while their capable bowling – mainly Swann and Anderson – would dismantle and again humiliate our batting. All these thoughts and projections – with only slight variation – were fermenting throughout the cricket world.
Enter 19 year old debutante and number 11, Ashton Agar, and batsman Philip Hughes. As Agar and Hughes slowly began to resist England’s attack, and it looked partially possible we might get to about 175, I didn’t quite emerge from the protozoan soup. I did, however, refuse to move and encouraged my partner to also not move. After 90 minutes we were hideously uncomfortable and our existence was characterised by waves of pins and needles, but Agar and Hughes were still in and we weren’t moving.
For those that think superstition is silly – and I usually do, well, get this. When Agar was on 98 I changed position and obtained the remote, which generally isn’t needed when watching 9 hours consecutive cricket (other than to mute the increasingly irritating commercials). I wanted to record the amazing moment when Agar became the first ever number 11 in 130 years of Test Match history to score a century. I pressed record, Broad ran in and bowled, dropped it short and Agar hooked. CAUGHT. OUT.
“I moved”, I screamed. Anyway. I refuse to be superstitious, but after I had hobbled on one foot at 2/22 at 0222am the night before and Clarke was bowled, I feel that maybe there’s something here I’ll need to monitor throughout the series.
So with the world resoundingly changed by Agar’s historic innings, his partnership with Hughes miraculously carved out a lead of 65 for Australia. My partner sombrely retreated for bed. A wise and content decision at 1230am. I thought I’d stick out four or five overs as we began our second attempt at bowling out England.
After 6 overs I packed it in. I was nearly seeing double. A massive night the night before (a 3am bedtime and an 8am rise) followed by a big day at work and then a run, I was now cream crackered and sufficiently entertained. England were 0/10, still 55 behind. By the time I closed up the house, cleaned my teeth and settled into bed at about 0115 I thought, blow it, I’ll check my phone to see where things are at.
An un-read text from fellow cricket frother and Day One co-watcher Damien indicated something had happened. Excitement pulsated through my bloodstream and a check of the score revealed that I’d missed two wickets – Root and Trott – and England were 2/12.
Needless to say I trudged back out to the lounge, switched it all back on and sat down to absorb the thrilling spectacle once more. Unfortunately it was tea. I had to wait 20mins. So, by now I’m seeing triple, but I stayed true until the 13th over when I had knocked the bails off my own stumps (no not that, I’ll be lucky to remember after this) and staggered into bed.
England, led by conservative batting from K Pietersen and Ally Cook navigated to 2/80 at stumps and gave England a 15 run lead.
There’s no way I’m going anywhere tomorrow night, so I’ll be back again to watch and analyse as much of Day Three as my body and mind can handle.