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The perfect present

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Tom Fordyce | 09:42 UK time, Sunday, 26 December 2010

Melbourne, Victoria

First the good news for Australia: Michael Clarke, struggling all series, was his side's top scorer. Phillip Hughes, under enormous pressure, was just four runs back. Graeme Swann failed to take a single wicket.

The bad news? How long do you have?

Even in a series that has seen some spectacular implosions, this was an astounding collapse, a capitulation so bewildering and absolute that Australia's hopes of regaining the Ashes might well have gone down the gurgler with it.

98 all out doesn't happen very often in grade cricket, let alone an Ashes Test. It certainly doesn't happen on Boxing Day at the MCG, the single most iconic day and arena in the Aussie sporting calendar.

For it to be followed by an England reply of 157-0, with Australian fans pouring out of the ground in their shell-shocked thousands and bright sunshine baking any remaining juice from the track, was a Christmas gift beyond anything Andrew Strauss could ever have wished for.

In a Test series that has swung so violently from one team to the other we should beware of attaching too much significance to just two sessions. Australian success early at the Gabba ended in English ascendancy and then domination in Adelaide; a side which had won by an innings was then demolished by 267 runs in Perth.

But 98? This was Australia's lowest first innings score at the MCG in history, even worse than the 104 they posted in the first ever Test back in 1877. It's less than Mike Hussey alone was averaging coming into the game. As one fan muttered on his rapid way back out onto Punt Road two hours before the close, it was a total that would be considered bad by Zimbabwe, rotten by Bangladesh.

James Anderson

Anderson finished 4-44. Photo: Getty

The Boxing Day Test is an Australian cultural staple. Across the country, families gather in front of the television to ease away the festive hangovers and indigestion.

This was a display that had even the dog feeling nauseous. The turkeys were wearing baggy green caps, the stuffing good and proper.

When Strauss won the toss and opted to field, many of the 84,500 eager patrons packed into the precipitous stands of this vast concrete bowl raised their eyebrows. The pitch looked green but the forecast was good. The average first innings score here in the Sheffield Shield this season is over 300.

With England's leading wicket-taker Steve Finn left out in favour of Tim Bresnan, to many the definition of an honest workhorse, some even wondered where the scalps might come from.

They shouldn't have worried. This was a bowling display as disciplined as the one in Perth had been disappointing, the length miserly, the line relentless.

While the pitch offered a little and the grey clouds above a fraction more, England's three seamers squeezed every last droplet of fun and fizz from what was on offer.

James Anderson bowled beautifully, moving the ball in and away through the air as if it were on curved rails. Chris Tremlett, fresh from his eight wickets at the Waca, found steep bounce and late lift where none was obvious. Bresnan, as barrel-chested as a circus strongman, offered exactly the relentless control that Finn had been unable to provide in Perth.

Despite all that, the Australian batsmen threw themselves into the abyss with merry abandon. Hughes slashed away like a man clearing bush. Clarke prodded as if batting in total darkness. Brad Haddin might as well have carried the ball to the slip cordon on a silver salver and offered it up with an obsequious bow.

Ricky Ponting

Ponting finished with yet another headache. Photo: Getty

When five wickets had gone for 66 runs, English celebrations were still under control. No-one could forget that Australia had somehow salvaged a win from the same troubled waters a week ago at the Waca. Few wanted reminding that Andrew Flintoff's team had their opposite numbers 84-5 at this ground four years ago and yet still took a dreadful pasting.

For the first time all series, however, Mike Hussey was part of the problem rather than solution. Steve Smith is nothing like Andrew Symonds, whose 150 in the preceding Ashes Test here had taken that match from England's grasp. Wickets fell and jaws dropped.

The defining moment in a morning of carnage came in the final over before lunch, when Anderson's perfect tempter across the bows drew the faintest of touches from Hussey's uncertain push.

Hussey has been close to impregnable in the three matches so far, not so much a thorn in England's side as a festering wound. When Matt Prior clapped his blue gloves around the thin edge in the final over before lunch, his team-mates celebrated as if Christmas 2011 had come 364 days early, an unmistakable chorus of the Final Countdown parping from Billy Cooper's Barmy Army bugle.

Australia still harboured hope. If Anderson and Bresnan could find swing, why not Ryan Harris and Ben Hilfenhaus? Mitchell Johnson had blown the England top order away in Perth. What was to stop him doing the same?

It never happened. It never looked like happening. Harris, lethal in the second innings at the Waca, could find nothing. Hilfenhaus was tidy but no more. Johnson, summoned as early as the sixth over, was off again just three later, his radar as off-beam as it had been out of this world a few days ago.

England could yet throw this position away. With clouds forecast for Monday morning, Australia's bowlers will have a chance to bite back. In the Centenary test at this ground in 1977, the home side were bowled out for just 138 on the first day but still came back to win.

Yet so one-sided was this opening exchange that it will take either a truly extraordinary display from at least two of Ricky Ponting's bowlers, or a surrender of the most abject kind - something to surpass even the darkest days of previous Ashes tours - for England to now lose this match.

For England supporters waking up sore-headed back home, the scoreboard must have seemed almost too good to be true, an aberration of the bleary eye or the continuation of some cheeseboard-fuelled dream.

In that case, let's finish with a cold hard stat.

Five teams have been bowled out for less than 100 in a Test and gone on to win, it's true. But the last time was in 1907, and the first four all in the 19th century.

England expects.


Page 1 of 3

  • Comment number 1.

    Well what can you say after that - I know it's possible but England surely must win this test from here. I was hoping that WAC was a blip in form and a one off test, but no one could have expected the events of today.

  • Comment number 2.

    Obviously I mean that it's possible for England not to win


  • Comment number 3.

    All this user's posts have been removed.Why?

  • Comment number 4.

    Fell asleep with Australia one wicket down woke up England were batting, thought god it must raining they are showing some old game and turned it off.

  • Comment number 5.

    To be fair, C'wood getting hands on it was in excess of what any other 3rd slip would have achieved. Every other person on both sides would have watched it bounce in front of the ankle of 2nd.

    Love the Hadding comment: ...with an obsequious bow. Top Drawer stuff.

    Let's bat for 3 days, it's not like we're under scoreboard pressure now is it? Has MJ lost it again? Another Harmy ball more towards Long Leg than Fine Leg.

  • Comment number 6.

    Stick that in your pipe and smoke it Mr Siddle!!!

    Couldnt help laughing at the smugness of Ian Botham at the end of play today. Like a cat who got the cream...

  • Comment number 7.

    What a disaster for Australia and for Ponting in particular.

    We managed to get hold of Andrew Strauss' 'Dear Santa...' requests and lo and behold everything came true...

    Can our bowlers consistently put the ball on a testing full length. Please can the opposition batsmen play a series of loose and airy shots outside off-stump to give the keeper and slips catching practice.
    Please can the opposition pick an all-seam attack and Gabba Johnson and not WACA Johnson turns up.
    Please can Cooky and I surpass Australia's total on our own and be no wickets down by the close.
    Finally, can I record my 6,000th test match run to put the icing on what would be a very sumptuous Christmas Cake.

    More observations of the day:

    Day 1 at the MCG dissected: Cold Turkey for Australia on Boxing Day -

  • Comment number 8.

    My day today consisted of watching England demolish Australia while drinking cold beers, a swim in the pool at the tea break, great food while watching a great final session of batting and finished with polite texts sent to my Australian friends and colleagues. Four years ago I thought from a sporting point of view moving to Australia was a bad idea.

    Not today!

    I know that the Perth experience should bring caution, but if England blow this they all deserve to be proverbially shot.

  • Comment number 9.

    I have thought all along England are the better team and if they keep their heads (and wickets) they will thrash Australia

  • Comment number 10.

    papa shango, why have you added 'always right' to your user name? surely tongue in cheek?

    and why if we dont score 500 will we lose? so if we score 400 and get a 300 first innings lead they will get 600 in their second innings and bowl us out for less than 300 to win the game then will they?

    you must deliberately write comments like these to provoke reaction, because nobody is that clueless

  • Comment number 11.

    Unbelievable. The WACA débacle really hurt England. Peter Siddle goading Jimmy to play through the pain if he's man enough! WAGs having a negative impact on England's focus! Don't underestimate this England side. We're not great, and perhaps we never will be. But we're more than a handful for any of the current sides playing test cricket.

    What a pressie from our lads downunder. Just cannot see us losing this. The Ashes as a Christmas présent for the nation.

    Well played all of you.

  • Comment number 12.

    What a great way to wake up on my birthday and read this 1st Day report & I haven't got to the cards and pressies yet!!

  • Comment number 13.

    98 all out was one thing, to get to 157 without losing a wicket, well what can you say?

  • Comment number 14.

    Stunning display from England, helped by woeful execution of basics from Australia (not knowing when, even how, to leave a good ball); but an even more woeful display by Australian 'cricket lovers', pouring out of a ground (and first day!!) when their team are losing. Makes me think of children, spoilt for years, throwing out the dummy when things don't go their way ...just 'not cricket' from Australians in so many ways! Sad, I thought they were better than that!

  • Comment number 15.

    I guess they were trying to beat traffic. Funny really, they'd have been better off waiting till the close of play!

  • Comment number 16.

    After the Aussie gloating at the WACA they can't say anything about "winning Poms". I'm going to enjoy this. Let's give Johnson and Harris a pasting and prove that the result was just a fluke, that the Aussies are an average side with poor bowling, and stuff them like my Christmas turkey!

    Oh, and Ponting is averaging 15.5


  • Comment number 17.

    The writing was on the wall when Ponting declared himself fit before the match. This was a hammer blow for Australia. Never have I been more convinced that a batsman will fail when he steps on to the crease.

  • Comment number 18.

    It appears my prediction of Oz waving bye-bye to the ashes before xmas was a little bit off the mark.Such a shame the S.C.G. will be a dead rubber.I guess the English were more hungry and appreciated the occasion better than Pontings mob.As hard as it is for me to say this......

  • Comment number 19.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 20.

    That was an excellent bowling display by the English bowlers in favourable conditions. Only Ponting and Hussey looked like they could handle it and were out to great balls. The rest didn't look capable today.

    Only rain or a double century or two will get get Oz out of this mess.
    It was a great toss to win.

  • Comment number 21.

    What a fantastic opening spell from big TIM! Loving those figures after ten overs, fantastic stuff. Here's to a 2-1 lead and yes I'm counting my chickens etc. but if you cant now, when exactly can you?

    Never mind what score we manage to rack up, if we bowl as well as we did today (even with less success) we will still win. What a fantastic boxing day present! Thank you Mr Strauss ( and p.s. you got my vote for the next Durham Uni chancellor, lets hope you stay too busy to accept!)

  • Comment number 22.

    Pap Shango...... I agree with Deejaybee's comments.. What planet are you on?
    Surely Cricket is not your sport pal.
    Stick to the football blogs, this clearly is not your domain!

    Yes we had the best of conditions, that is clear for all to see & justified in the decision to 'bowl first'.

    The fact the wickets were all catches behind & in slip proves the swing & seam were prominent. However the art of selection of shot & particularly leaving the ball was woefully inadequate.

    Shame on all those spoilt barats Aussies for leaving the ground when things were going bad for their team.

    Proud to be a 'POM' today & gloating like Botham in front of them!

    Well played & keep it up lads!

  • Comment number 23.

    I've lived in Oz for 3 years now and have come to the conclusion that the aussies don't even like sport - they like winning. Expect this test to be consigned to page 26 of the sports paper, and to feature after the brilliant win by Australian Chi Ling Watever in the table-tennis.

  • Comment number 24.

    Hee hee hee!!!!!!! I'm absolutely loving this!!!! Boycott said at the beginning of the coverage that there was no way England would be able to win as the pitch was too flat--he then told Aggers to concentrate on commentating whilst he was an 'expert'. Sorry Boycs, I think your time is up!!!!

    Seriously though, if England lose then we should give up playing cricket altogether.

    We wont though (touch wood)

  • Comment number 25.

    I am Malaysian and got up early to watch. Joke's the word.

    I support England but her attack is certainly the Marshall, Ambrose, Walsh, Garner Resurrection. Australia were so poor they made a good attack look like geniuses.

    Is there now a Viv Richards lurking in England's midst to decimate the Aussie quicks and thus to authenticate my impression of the contest?

  • Comment number 26.

    Great performance by England so far, but little surprise.

    I said after Perth that all the momentum talk was nonsense and so I was correct.....I also said that this Aussie side wasn't capable of stringing together consectutive good performances and this has turned out true as well.

    England just have to play sensible cricket from here on in, and by the end of day 4 we should have the Ashes sewn up.

  • Comment number 27.

    Thanks for the nice article, Tom! I enjoyed it. Long live test cricket!

  • Comment number 28.

    Don't be too hard on the Victorians for leaving the MCG a little early.It's difficult to blame someone who has a choice of watching their team get put to the sword then finish the day in a traffic snarl or bailing early. I know which one i would choose on a beautiful boxing day.I've seen enough Australian football games to know that crowds disintergrate quickly in one-sided games.

  • Comment number 29.

    Today took me back to the Boxing Day Test of 86-87, Botham and Gladstone Small taking five wickets each to bowl Australia out for 141. England getting a lead of 208, with Chris Broad scoring his third century of the series and winning the game by an innings and 14 runs.

    If we're still batting at the end of today, I can see another innings victory on the cards.

  • Comment number 30.

    The only real anomaly in this series so far has been Perth. England batsman hardly ever play on pitches with that much bounce which was their undoing.

    Not that amazing that when the playing field is levelled once again that England dominate.

    The weather for the remaining 4 days is very good and only another Christmas miracle will stop the 5th Test in Sydney from being irrelevant.

  • Comment number 31.

    Been a lot of knee jerk reactions throughout this test series....
    Day 1 @ Brisbane, England rubbish going to lose 5-0. After Adelaide - Woeful Australia, should we feel sorry for them, wouldn't it be better if the contest was a little closer than an obvious 4-0 win for England. Day 1 @ Perth - England to rack up 500+ and win by an innings again. Day 2 @ Perth - Told you Aussies would be back, they'll win 3-1 now, all England should be dropped! Day 1 @ MCG - Ditto Day 1 @ Perth.
    England didn't suddenly become a poor side at Perth and neither did Australia become great again there. England look a much more accomplished side. If's and buts, but, if Hussey hadn't been in such great form up to this point, this would have been a very poor series and England would be 3-0 up on the verge of 4-0 with a great chance of a whitewash!
    My view, Aussies had a great couple of days at the MCG as England batted very poorly especially 2nd inns. I haven't really believed all the way through the series Aus have enough in the bowling to take 20 wickets, but a couple of bowlers had great games in 1 test for them to have their day in the sun. England should retain the Ashes comfortably here and seal it with either a win in Sydney or a 1-sided draw.

  • Comment number 32.

    I just hope that we don't all just sit back and say a draw for the series will do and at least we retain the ashes. I want to see aussies beat 3-1 and beaten well.

    Looking forward to another 200+ from cook tomorrow!

    Bad luck Ponting.

    PS if anyone saw how well jackman did against warne no-one would be asking to see shane back in the squad!

  • Comment number 33.

    Those who can cast their mind back to the '86/87 tour and Boxing Day (day one) at the Melbourne test. Australia bowled out cheaply with Botham and Small taking the wickets and Jack Richards five catches all on an overcast day. England well ahead at stumps on day one with a left handed opener (Broad) on the way to his third ton of the series.

    Swap Anderson, Tremlett, Prior and Cook and you have an almost replica today.

    Eventual outcome? England won the test by an innings and retained the Ashes.

  • Comment number 34.

    And by the way, great blog Tom. Been some superb articles throughout the series IMHO, keep up the good work.

  • Comment number 35.

    Steve S at #14.

    Sorry to be a hairsplitter but you really shouldn't be leaving good balls.

  • Comment number 36.


    Thé answer is obvious and the link has already been made: KP!

  • Comment number 37.

    Went to sleep at 26-1, woke up at 98-0 and "scores level". Concentrate hard for and bat for 5 more sessions and with luck win by an innings....that's the script anyway!

  • Comment number 38.


    Love and share the sentiment. What was it with all this Aussie backchat after Perth? Even JL (big respect) chipped in with remarks about Gooch going home.

    But Perth wasn't a fluke. England remain too suspect on that kind of pitch. If in doubt, ask Mickey Arthur.

    Anyway I'm to the football site.

    Happy Christmas to you all. More pressies in the offing I suspect :-)

  • Comment number 39.

    When will people learn? England will lose this test. When Australia get the same bowling conditions tomorrow morning as England did today, MJ will carve through the England line up in about an over and a half. Nine balls. nine wickets. The other wicket will be that of KP when, in a moment of captaining genius, Ponting gets Clarke to bowl spin with his wrong arm. KP can't cope with left-arm spin. FACT.

    Australia will then bat for four days and score around 1600 for 1. Hughes will fail again, but Kattich will be back for the fifth test. He will bat with an ankle brace and score 606 not out, all in boundaries, winning the urn back for Australia. I want England to win, but I seem to be the only one with a grasp of reality. FACT!

  • Comment number 40.

    All this user's posts have been removed.Why?

  • Comment number 41.

    Anybody would think that this is an English side doing battle against the Aussies.

    Its a team made up of misfits and nationalised rejects from all the World.

    as such any victory is so Hollow its not worth speaking about.

    what a shambles english cricket is when we have to rely on naturalisation to have any chance of competeing with the best.

    shame on you TCCB

  • Comment number 42.

    Worst Australian side ever, Ponting shoud have retired when rest of the great side did, Englands under 18s would beat this rabble. Lets push on now and keep the Aussies quiet, bat them out of the game then bowl em out again and win by an innings and plenty of runs, then let em see us enjoy it!

  • Comment number 43.

    41. At 1:26pm on 26 Dec 2010, HAHA CharadeYouAre wrote:
    Anybody would think that this is an English side doing battle against the Aussies.

    Its a team made up of misfits and nationalised rejects from all the World.

    as such any victory is so Hollow its not worth speaking about.

    what a shambles english cricket is when we have to rely on naturalisation to have any chance of competeing with the best.

    shame on you TCCB

    "Competing with the best" I could've sworn that we're only playing against Australia -not India or South Africa !!!!

  • Comment number 44.

    To mimic the famous Independent quote from the 86/87 tour. There are only three things wrong with Australia. They can't Bat. They can't Bowl, and they can't Field.

    Perth was a blip.

  • Comment number 45.

    It was jolly decent of the Aussies to not select the bloke with the best strike rate in Test matches of all time amongst left-arm pace bowlers (qualification - at least 10 matches played). Will 'Ruggie' be selected for Sydney, I wonder?

  • Comment number 46.

    #41. I'm loath to prolong a debate that falls just short of racism, but isn't it the kosher England players who are doing thé damage: Broad, Cook, Swann, Tremlett, Anderson, Prior (catching), Bell (thé classiest batter on Either side). And now Bresnan. Collingwood, whose infectious fielding gives thé team a world-class aura. Strauss is as English as sliced bread and réal ale; hardly an embittered Afrikan! As for 'shame on the TCCB', would you be kind enough to explain who the hell they are or what it is! In thé old days when the England side was top-heavy with Players who could just as easily have qualified for the islands, there was cause for concern that Englishmen were making up the numbers. Today that sentiment is misplaced.

    There is nô such thing as true national blood. As Englishmen we should be honoured that KP and Trott (and Morgan for that latter) identify in our country something valuable and worth committing to.

  • Comment number 47.

    HAHA CharadeYouAre - Typical English negativity mate. Criticise the side when they are doing poorly and then denigrate the make up of the team or the opposition if they are winning.

    Papa Shango Exclusively Always Wrong & Knows Nothing About Cricket - You have been asked on several occasions to refrain from making your inane, clueless remarks on here and if you are attempting to wind people up, the trick is not to make it as telegraphed as you do. You know about as much about cricket as I do about Astrophysics. Genuinely. This is not an insult, you forget that people who read these forums know their sport and can spot a clown trying to blag it 100 miles off. Also, why do you continually attempt to re-write history and claim that you have predicted all of the negative stuff after the event? Swann has had a massive impact already btw, he bowled relatively well in Adelaide and scooped a 5-fer (although he can and will bowl far better). Or were you in bed at the time because it was a school night?

    England were scintillating last night, truly brilliant and to all of you genuine England supporters, don’t let any negative buffoon spoil one minute of it for you.

  • Comment number 48.

    Well first of all I think I would have to acknowledge that the criticism from many people, myself included of the WAG syndrome was obviously a bit wide of the mark and a bit previous. However I do also think it's good to see that England today really didn't seem to be wasting valuable energy or focus on verbal sparring with the Aussies, and instead kept the pressure on right to the end of the Aussie innings through quality disciplined spells from all four bowlers and beautiful fielding.
    I think Mitchell Johnson might crumble tomorrow and if he does I hope England will be able to bat Australia completely out of the game.

    I have lived in Australia for 10 years and over those years, everyone I have met has been a mad keen cricket fan, it's funny how no one I spoke to today had even heard of the game, I personally believe that Aussies don't really care about competition, they care about winning- monotonously, emphatically and for some strange vaguely resentful reason, especially against the English. When they start losing, their interest rapidly wains- that predicted record MCG crowd may have to wait for a few more years at this rate.

    What a truly Merry Christmas this is, as an expat I am looking forward to having a lot of fun "sledging" this winter and I don't think I'll need any snow, just some Aussie cricket fans, if I can find any.

  • Comment number 49.


    The good thing about this Ashes series is watching the Aussie public struggle so badly with getting tonked.

    Day 5 of the first test and the genius remark from one commentator that:

    'it must be fancy dress day at the Gabba, all the Australians have come as empty seats'.

    In the corner sat the Barmy Army loving life.

    Boxing day test and the Aussies cannot support their beleaguered team. Thats the lovely bad loser spirit embraced by Ponting.

    Well done to the lads, good article Tom - I hope you can find something to do for the last two days, perhaps you could go to the Australian Government and see if you can get the Australian fan on the protected species list!

  • Comment number 50.

    For all the talk about this being the fittest England team ever, I notice their much vaunted bowlers only managed a meager 42 overs between them. The Aussie bowlers have already got 47 overs under their belts and look like they're ready for plenty more tomorrow.

    And what is it with the English batters? Not enough energy to run between the wickets that they have to resort to boundaries – a bounder's charter! That's where the word boundary comes from. Fact!

    I notice that Steve Harmison has had no influence on this series. Another great prediction by me.

  • Comment number 51.

    41 - Dude, you belong in the 1800s - thankfully most people has moved on. Just be careful though, soon you will explode when you realise that women were given the vote in the early 1900s!!!

    47 - No its not typical. Its actually more common for one muppet to spout out nonsense like post 41, and then someone to ignore nearly 50 other comments to find just one that is apparently 'typical' of all the others.

    Read the other posts, it ain't typical, it actually very rare to see such jibba jabba. Most are proud of the boys down under - and most are realistic about our side - despite the sensational media trying to convince us that we are the best one minute, the worst the next.

    In general, we are smart, realistic, maybe slightly pessimistic, and not related to any of the Shango group or their drivel.

  • Comment number 52.

    I think Cricket Australia, should write to Tourism Australia and ask if they can borrow their old ad campaign, you know the one - vacant looking blonde on stunning Aussie beach asking "Where the Bloody Hell are you?" They could reshoot it with Ponting in the Australian fans section of the MCG stands.

  • Comment number 53.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 54.

    41. At 1:26pm on 26 Dec 2010, HAHA CharadeYouAre wrote:
    Anybody would think that this is an English side doing battle against the Aussies.

    Its a team made up of misfits and nationalised rejects from all the World.

    as such any victory is so Hollow its not worth speaking about.
    The entire Australian "Nation" (apart from the poor Aborigines) are made up of misfits and nationalised rejects from all the World !

    Joke country..

  • Comment number 55.

    I woke up this morning (duh derr, duh duh) with a thick head and fearing the worst from the MCG. Logged into BBC Sport and found a result that, even had I dreamed it, could not have been any better. For Australia to be all back in the hutch before tea for less than 100 runs is good enough, but for England then to cruise to 157 without loss is truly the stuff of dreams.

    I've obviously underestimated this England team. Perth WAS a blip, They've clearly learned from their mistakes and not had their confidence dented by the experience, unlike the Aussies who are still the poor, rudderless side they were before.

    I'm confident that a winning position will have been further cemented when I wake up tomorrow morning (idiotic, trolling comments from certain unimaginatively renamed Australian posters notwithstanding).

    Great work, fellas...

  • Comment number 56.

    Prior was born in South Africa, but I agree with the rest of the sentiment, this is an England team and if they are from every where but England who cares?

    This has been brilliant to watch, Australia to leave Test cricket within 3 years and begin their own federation where they play American Samoa at every sport so they can beat someone for a change.

    Oh and in an unrelated point, could everyone stop putting FACT! after a statement meant to be factual. We can spot a statement without having to see FACT! after every SENTENCE! you plonkers ADJECTIVE TO DESCRIBE HOW ANNOYING IT IS!

  • Comment number 57.

    re#Aussie destroyer,
    Did Boycott say that?
    Flat pitch! as Nasser Hussain said:"It's Headingly brought to the MCG."
    Not of course to belittle Messrs Anderson,Tremlett et al(they were superb!)
    Where has Tremlett been?He's 29!has he never shown any form before??
    He's 6'8 and built like the proverbial BS.
    In an interview he seems like a shy diffident type.
    How can that be when you're that size?(lack of confidence?)
    Anyway, England have had a dream start and if they post a 300 plus score
    tomorrow;they should win easily?
    But as Freddie Truman used to say"Cricket's a funny game; the unexpected
    is par for the course!"
    Can't wait for tonight!

  • Comment number 58.

    Papa... Oh dear. Now I know you only post your drivel as a wind-up, and I've no problems at all with that. But to get it to work, it has to be either clever or witty. It must lure the foolish into denying an unlikely scenario you can then support with facts, or at least make us laugh. Make some people think you are a complete fool, whilst others can see in fact you're just playing a witty game at their expense.

    Sadly, all you manage is the first bit. It's just boring rubbish. Now I'm sure if I met you in real life you'd be the sort of guy I'd buy a drink - it's Christmas, and if you can't give one of life's losers and down-and-outs a cup of char now where's the spirit of it all - but do please try and improve the quality of your ranting to something above the inane.

  • Comment number 59.

    England are playing superb at the MCG today!
    Australia are shockingly poor!

    Who expected Australia to be bowled out for 98 after playing so good at the WACA?

    Cricket Australis must have a major investigation on why this Australia team is playing so poor

    England can win this test match within 2 days!
    Day 2, England bat up to tea. Current run rate is good(3.34),they can get a lead of around 250. Then England only need 1 session and probably that extra half hour to bowl Australia out again under 100

    England win tomorrow morning when we wake up in England and keep the urn and have 3 days rest

    That is a possible way this test match could go if both sides continue playing as they are now

  • Comment number 60.


    Are you suggesting that the England team learned its craft in the boarding houses of Eton? This is a typical colonial view! Only one person called Dave ever went to Eton. Fact!

  • Comment number 61.

    sportsfan..well technically, if both sides continue playing as they are now we'll be aboout 2400 for none at close of play on Day 5 and the match a draw lol!

    Seriously - over in two days, no way! Bat and bat, score at least 600, mostly in 3's they have to chase to the boundary, and at least 300 of them off Johnson... THEN bowl them out for 100. Then just sit back and read the Aussie papers hehe!

  • Comment number 62.

    #56. didn't know that and stand corrected. But it does explain why Matty wantsa date with Siddle behind the bike sheds. My advice to the Siddler: don't turn up mate! ;-(

  • Comment number 63.

    SportsFan - I like your optimism but let's be a bit more realistic here, England will try and get 500/550 before declaring, giving the Aussies a massive target to avoid an innings defeat, we will wrap this up early but no way in 2 days Tea on the 4th day should be about right IMO.

  • Comment number 64.


    I think you mean NOUN! Fact!

  • Comment number 65.

    Never in my life has insomnia been so welcome :)

  • Comment number 66.

  • Comment number 67.

    I'm completely confused as to which is the kosher Papa Shango and which are ersatz versions. I'm guessing that the réal-deal is the humourless one.

    Anyhow, too many posts from me. (Sorry.) Trying to hold out until Utd/Sunderland. Then kip and up at 2300. In fact, on parade 5 minutes before, in keeping with my miltary background. Incidentally, I served with a lot of Kiwis, Aussies and Saffers in my time, all of whom took Betty's shilling with unceasing commitment and distinction.

    God Speed, England.

  • Comment number 68.

    What a start by England. All 10 wickets catches, great fielding. Matthew Prior taking 6 of the catches great wicket keeping. The England bowlers dominated. When ponting got out for 10 i got a text saying the score (37-3) and i was thinking but Hussey is up next.

  • Comment number 69.


    There is only one original. Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. Not that I need to be flattered to know my self worth. Even so, I knew it would come to this. Another great prediction by me!

  • Comment number 70.

    To R-Brooker #35 to my earlier #14
    Oh contrare to your hair-splitting sir!! True you'd be a fool to leave a 'good ball' on target to your wicket but it may surprise you to learn that bowling has tactics to it and the best bowlers aren't always bowling plumb on to your wicket, but tempting you with one that moves or swings away, say just outside your off stump (the zone of uncertainty as experts better than us call it) - A good ball and a good batsmen learns to respect those sort and known when to leave it and live on to attack the poorer deliveries (as Strauss & Cook gave a batting lesson). You seem to be suggesting anything not on target is not a good ball ...say!'re not the Aussie batting coach in you day-job by any chance?

  • Comment number 71.

    Welll, i confidently expect England to kick on now and grab a draw.

  • Comment number 72.

    Well done England, but when does the real match start? I'm bored with this comedy fund raiser already.

    (chortle chortle)

  • Comment number 73.

    All this user's posts have been removed.Why?

  • Comment number 74.

    #70. I stand corrected (again). Fair point and wise words. I prostrate myself in due déférence.... (Gets back to his feet.) And no I'm not the Aus batting coach but if that position comes up for grabs in the very near future.....!(No offence JL).

  • Comment number 75.

    FACT! Rafa Benitez is sitting at home bored with nothing to do after being sacked by Inter Milan. He loves England so much that he has even taken to using pseudonyms and posting about Cricket on the BBC website...these are the FACTS!

    On a more serious note I fear we have witnessed a cataclysmic day for Aussie Cricket, to arouse massive interest in a declining sport then perform like this could be disastrous. As an England fan I have no sympathy, as a cricket fan I'm worried they'll go the way of the Windies

  • Comment number 76.

    haha papa shango, what made me laugh a lot was when, the other day, you were called "the most mocked person in the BBC blogs history"- that's probably about right as well. All you have done is predict negativity and tried to claim glory when you were even slightly right. I'm not going to list all of your incorrect predictions as I'd run out of room.

    HAHA charade, the last time I saw you on a BBC blog (one of the world cup 2018 ones), 9 out of 12 of your posts were moderated. You cannot be taken seriously.


    Ignoring those idiots, what a day for England! The test is not won yet but I'm not sure Strauss could have dreamed of a better opening day. Just need to rack up a decent total and then get stuck into them, hopefully at a good time when there is some cloud over the ground.
    Keep it up lads!

  • Comment number 77.


  • Comment number 78.

    I agree that Finn's short and wayward bowling in Perth gifted the Aussies too many runs, but everybody could see that so replacing him with Bresnan is hardly a 'masterstroke'.

    And if England don't score at least 500 they are going to lose this test?? What we basically have here now is a 4 day, 3 inning test match. England get to bat twice and the Aussies only once, and England are 59-0 in their first innings. Just how pessimistic do you have to be to think England are going to lose?. Of course its possible they could lose, that's the nature of sport, but for goodness sake.....

    If the England players were one tenth as negative as some of the England 'supporters' they would lose every game in their heads before a ball is bowled.

  • Comment number 79.

    'Another great prediction by me!'

    What's the odds that about two days time, with England 500-x declared and Australia 148-9, Papa will make the startling predition England may retain the ashes then claim credit for it evermore ;-)

  • Comment number 80.

    It was quite extraordinary to see one Australian after another give their wickets away, that's not to take anything away from the bowling which was a top notch and disciplined display. England made fantastic use of the conditions, while favouring bowlers the pitch really didn't do that much at all, there was a touch of movement off the seam but apart from the odd erratic bounce the pitch was pretty true, the aussies just kept chasing balls outside off they should have left alone, they appeared to be plagued by self doubt and dare I say panic stricken.

  • Comment number 81.

    the Aussies have not played and look like a united team from the selectors down to the players...they are finger pointing at each other or told last chance saloon before being dropped !

    The series is only alive due to one devastating spell from Johnson and the reliance on Hussey, Haddin and Watson in the batting

    If the Aussies thought Marcus North was rabbit for Swann. Tremlett seems to be overworking the overhyped Hughes and expose his technique

    Difference between last week and this week were England are already ahead ! The pitch will get flatter and slower therefore reliance on a spinner may be the key. Its amusing actually to see Johnson after bowling everyone one away was withdrawn after 3 overs and then got hammered again in his 2nd spell

    Ponting has a serious problem on his hands now with one of his key bowlers not firing

  • Comment number 82.


    Don't get drawn in by this Papa Shango nonsense. Or any of his (?) alter egos. Only one person deserves to be the most mocked person in blog history. Winston Churchill was mocked once! We all know who was proven right in the end. Fact!

  • Comment number 83.

    Fed up listening to the idiot "papa shango's always right" spout complete rubbish. "We didnt bowl that well" ive just read but we took 10 wickets for under 100. That proves we bowled well. FACT.

    And So what if swann hasnt set the world on fire this tour, everyone else has been good plus its hard to get a spinner to take wickets on the 1st day of a test. FACT

    Also moaning at colly for dropping a really tricky catch is a bit stupid especially as after that drop KP missed a sitter and watson still only got 5. FACT.

    "If we dont score 500 we'll lose" was another ridiculous saying. Only 1 australian has scored a century to my knowledge and their batsmen have collapsed more than the english. We are already 60 ahead without losing a wicket.

    So stop being a wum and start looking at honest facts before you start spouting pure dribble.

  • Comment number 84.

    Mathna. The Joke Country you refer to is such a joke that a large percentage of the posters here live in Australia. Sure they support England now, and maybe, just maybe, their children will too (doubtful). After that, they are all Aussies.

    These people seek a better life and a standard of living that you clearly do not enjoy. By all means, bag our cricket team and our play - we are rubbish at the moment. As for our Country. Well, mate in comparison, nuff said.

  • Comment number 85.

    England will get better and better because ECB have finally got wise and started coaching our kids in primary schools. Our women are world champions, we are 20/20 world champions, we will win world cup, and we'll dominate Australia for a long time!

  • Comment number 86.

    All this user's posts have been removed.Why?

  • Comment number 87.


    Got to agree BlueRoo. I can only think that Mathna has never been here. I'm a proud Pom and also an Aussie citizen. I've been here 5 years now. Its a great and beautiful country and Australians are fantastic down-to-earth people. I love Australia and to call Australia a 'joke country' is simply disrespectful. And you are right - the parents mostly stay 'English' (or Scotish, Welsh, Irish) but the kids soon become Aussies through and through.

  • Comment number 88.

    Back to look at papa's supposed facts.

    Fact 1. colly averages above 40 with the bat. Can bowl a few overs per innings and up till this tour he wasnt even considered for being dropped.

    Fact 2. Johnson has not been the key man for either team. hussey has been consistently brilliant and johnson has had 3 good days out of 11.

    Fact 3. Finn was the leading wicket taker this series and if he wasn't obviously fatigued last test he would have started this 1. He cant not be test class if hes taken more wickets than the key australian (in your eyes) Johnson.

    Fact 4. Cook is the leading english run scorer and is my bet to be top run scorer all this series. He's failed twice but strauss has failed more often as have nearly all the australian batsmen. Also we were under pressure 2nd innings against australia in the 1st test and cook got a massive score.

    Fact 5. Swann is No.1 spinner in the world currently and hasn't really been needed this series as he has been getting about 10 overs per innings.

    You talk garbage and that is the only fact worth mentioning.

  • Comment number 89.

    Pappa Shango seems to have got what he's after, and thats to get people to respond to his wind ups!

  • Comment number 90.

    I am wondering why people are even indulging this Papa shango who is clearly a WUM, and not even an entertaining one, best thing to do with people like these let them spout their nonsense then quietly crawl back under the rocks from whence they came.

  • Comment number 91.

    I have to disagree with both no89 and 90. IT is rele rather amusing when he tries to wind people up and I've noticed many people come back to the forum just to hear his nonsense and laugh at it. I just wish that he was australian as for englishman to be that pesimistic and downright stupid is a shame lol.

    Either way his nonsense does keep me amused and i dnt mind pointing out his ridiculous logic.

  • Comment number 92.

    Cook is vying with Hussey for the best batsman of either side. No talk today of moving Bell up the order; I'd leave him there, it didn't do Steve Waugh any harm did it?

    Johnson was important for 1 session, 2 if you include his batting but that turned out to be peripheral to the result. Ponting, in the immortal words of LS&2SB, "Ee's a £@#+-ing liability!" and his supposed successor isn't any better. Hussey & Haddin seem the only old-school Aussies who can fight back from the days when they would. The rest don't like a bit of pressure and aren't good enough.

  • Comment number 93.

    I do agree 91, it does amuse me also.

  • Comment number 94.

    A small Christmas stat attack:

    Aside from the 307 partnership in the first test, Australia have scored 1501 runs for the loss of 61 wickets... or 24 runs per wicket in this series. It's still under 30 for all runs scored.

    Perth aside, England have tried to play straight and accumulate partnerships and therein for me lies the difference in this series.

    We now have a four day game where Australia have 10 wickets and England 20 wickets and a 59 run head-start. England should aim to bat a minimum of another four sessions and then it's theirs for the taking.

  • Comment number 95.

    All this user's posts have been removed.Why?

  • Comment number 96.

    #41, don't you support Arsenal? You don't seem to have a problem with the vast majority of players there over the last 10 years being foreign...

    It's a tiresome subject, but just needs re-affirming - England players in this side have english parents and have qualified over a 4 year period to play for England.

    They've produced one of the great Ashes days for English cricket, so if you've got nothing positive to say, bore off somewhere else

  • Comment number 97.

    92, England have 4 or 5 better batters than Hussey, I agree Hussey and Haddin are only ones that have any fight in them, Johnson also if he gets it right, but he seems to get it wrong more than right. Australia are in a mess and its nice to see!

  • Comment number 98.

    papa - 42 is 'not good enough'? what are you but a complete buffoon! you are a wind-up merchant and that is all who knows nothing about cricket

  • Comment number 99.

    Quote " / 50. At 2:00pm on 26 Dec 2010, Mapa_Pango wrote:

    For all the talk about this being the fittest England team ever, I notice their much vaunted bowlers only managed a meager 42 overs between them. / " end Quote

    They only Bowled 42 Overs because there was no one left to bowl at you muppet!

  • Comment number 100.

    Too many comments are so either wildly optimistic or ridiculously pessimistic that the writers are either trying for a reaction orjust ignorant o0f the game. This is cricket and those who have played the game will know that anything can happen.
    We all- with two notable exceptions on this site - what we would like to see, but history has shown that a match can be swayed by the most trivial of events. There could be an England collapse, producing a close finish, a massive England score with an innings victory or anything in between. This is the joy, and the frustration of the game.
    I hope for a decisive England victory, but is it necessary, were this to occur, to lambast an Australian team that over the years have proved their worth.The same applies to the England players. I do agree that the Aussies do tend to denigrate us, especially their press and hope we can make them eat their words - and I take the point about the Aussie spectators who have had it so good for so long. But the players on both sides take their role very seriously and know their country is watching - no need to insult them. No doubt the same people abusing the England batsmen after the last test are the same doing similar to the Aussies in this.
    Having said all that I hope England really win this test by a bigmargin and prove that English cricket is on the up.
    For heavens sake stop stamping an opinion, often misplaced as FACT.


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