Monday, 29 November 2010

Collingwood's sock - the first test

Fantasy Bob brings you unique insights into the First Test of the Ashes series through his exclusive contract with Paul Collingwood’s sock.

The sock was quick to congratulate England’s top order batting ‘This is the first time in the Ashes that our top 3 pairs of socks have got tons.  But on a road of a wicket like that all us middle order socks just wanted to get out there.  Not a lot in this game for PC, but the stress of FB’s nomination of him as fielder of the series was too much, since he dropped a simple catch off Swanny in the final session.  Colly says why don’t you pick on someone else.’

After the game Strauss said. ‘There will be all this momentum chat again now.’   The sock confirmed this to FB.  'Yes we're building up momentum for the momentum chat.  It's good to have momentum to go into that momentum.  It's all been momentous.'

Day 1 was the day of Siddle’s hattrick – what a birthday present!  Commiting that schoolboy grammatical error Siddle’s mum 'watched him on TV taking the hattrick in her pyjamas.'   Siddle recently gave up his other sporting love – competitive woodchopping - to avoid an injury which would harm his cricket – like chopping his hand off. 

Siddle commented on his hattrick ball, ‘The plan was pretty similar all day, to pitch it up, make them play, be patient and consistent with those lines. I got Cook and Prior with two balls like that and I think the third was a bit of adrenaline from the crowd, I bowled it fast. It didn't really come off as the ball I wanted but I got him so there's nothing more I could ask for.’ So much for technique applied with unrelenting skill - in time honoured fashion he just closed his eyes and hoped.  Just like Fantasy Bob.

England’s man of the day was Ian Bell whose top score 76 seems penny numbers in the light of what followed.

Day 2 -  One of the out of form Aussies had to come good and it was Mike Hussey.  Surviving his first ball snick which didn't carry to Swan at slip he began to look like the Hussey of old.  Coming into the match he has been called a koala in the local press, suggesting not that he was a cuddly, uniquely Australian creature beloved by one and all (obviously he is all of these), but that he was an endangered species.  Selection policy seemed to be guided by wildlife species protection legislation.  But he is now off the endangered list - to the delight of the World Wild Life Fund who called on the Australian selectors to include the threatened Asian Tiger in their squad for the next match.

But other species are still in trouble – the Marcus North tree frog, caught at first slip for one, has 17 scores of 10 or less in his 20 Tests. So long as North remains a feast-or-famine batsman his Test future will remain under extreme scrutiny.  Even the World Worldlife Fund concede his average of 36 may not be irreplaceable.  Day four saw North start his second career as a bowler taking the only wicket in a long day for Australia’s bowlers.

England came off second best with the umpire referral system not once but three times.  England blew their remaining unsuccessful video referral after umpire Aleem Dar gave Michael Clarke not out on a caught-behind appeal off Steve Finn. Video replays and hot spot technology failed to give cause to overturn Dar's decision.  However the Snicko  replay a few minutes later suggested Clarke had got a faint edge.  Snicko was dropped from the referral squad after a series of indifferent performances.

Have a look at Channel 9's report of the Gator Tracker, which they have been attaching to players to monitor heart rate.  On Day 2 it was with umpire Billy Doctorove.  There is no truth in the rumour that the pilot of this device by FB and the Carlton Fourth XI last year had to be abandoned when it suggested that several of FB's senior players were clinically dead.

Day 3 – H&H – Hussey and Haddin give Australia a first innings lead of 221and records begin to fall.  Steve Finn keeps going to finish with 6 for 125.

Again the referral system added extra drama.  Replays showed Hussey was out stone wall lbw early in the morning, but Strauss had used up all his referrals.  Hussey went on to 195.  Later Strauss himself survived through the referral system.  A big moment –  he was on a pair.  Just as well the Gator Tracker wasn't on him - it would have gone off the scale.

England coach Andy Flower returned the dressing room having had a cancerous growth on his cheek removed.  Suggestions that England lost their way a bit in his absence were denied, although England kit men were later seen carrying in industrial supplies of factor 300 sun cream purchased from the local Superchem.

Day 4 - the records keep tumbling with a huge opening partnership of 188 between Strauss and Cook.  Alastair Cook has revealed the secret to his form at the Gabba after he added an unbeaten 132 to his first innings half-century. ‘Over the last 12 months I've had a bit of a tinker with my technique and tried to improve it,’ Cook said. 'The results today, I'm very happy with.'  Cook will now have a bit of a tinker with his syntax to improve it before the second test.

Day 5 – All records broken.   Cook scored his maiden double-century and Trott hit his second hundred against Australia, making it the first time England's top three had scored Ashes tons. The only previous occasion England batsmen had done this was at Lord's in 1924 against South Africa, when the trio was Jack Hobbs, Herbert Sutcliffe and Frank Woolley.  Both Trott’s tons have come in the second innings.  Cook beat Bradman’s highest individual score at the Gabba.   But have a heart, the forlorn Mitchell Johnson was wicketless in a test for the first time.

A winning draw for England then.   But FB questions why the Gabba subcontracted the preparation of the wicket to the highways department.  Before the match The Gabba strip was described in the local press as 'a green monster'.  They want to come to Scotland!

Finally, Fantasy Bob is a keen student of trends in cricket equipment.  Here is the latest development being marketed by Geoffrey Boycott specially for playing Mitchell Johnson.

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