Travelling tittle-tattle, tall tales and shameless name-dropping by Jon ‘Don’t Call Me’ Norman

About Me

Thursday, 30 November 2006

Here I go again on my own

..Here I go again on my own, going down the only road I've ever known..

Of all the loony tunes the Barmy Army sing throughout a days play at the cricket the one that never ceases to crack me up is the rendition of Bon Jovi's ..Living on a Prayer... I'll write the lyrics another day but can you imagine the thoughts of the Aussie bowler patrolling the boundary when he's comes face to face with 200 odd sun blotched English blokes playing the air guitar and screaming out this soft rock classic?

Sometimes it feels like you're in the friendliest mental asylum in town. There's always something going on in the crowd even when nothing is happening on the pitch. And the festivities outside of the ground are often equally as entertaining.

Since arriving in Adelaide, (think Kent, with sun) I've spent my time lazily strolling around town, whilst taking the chance to top up my tan in the plus 30 degree heat.

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Today, however, was set aside for a spot of competitive cricket action with the Australian equivalent of the Barmy Army.

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Most of us have grown up associated with a failing football team. Those that haven't have usually chosen to support Manchester United. But regardless of who you follow we're all familiar with terrace banter and singing when we're winning. The Aussies aren't like us. They are so used to being top dog they don't bother showing up when it starts to go tits up.

But we're a different breed and although they wouldn't swap their medal hauls they are definitely intrigued by who we are and why we're spending a fortune doing it. In 1994 the Barmy Army were coined as thus after their unstinting support of another cricket failure in Australia. And since then they've become almost god like in their celebrity status. Think I'm exaggerating? The main party were greeted at Adelaide airport and interviewed on national TV when they touched down.

Today's game was a twenty over affair and took place at a lovely little ground in Henley, about a 15 minute bus ride out of town. We turned up in a big red London bus.

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they turned up in a specially designed coach, full of Aussie cheerleader types. But more about them later.

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Although I used to play a lot of cricket I've only managed 3 games in the last ten years or so. The crowad was also bigger than I was used to.  About 350 or so English and Australian fans turned up.

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  As well as an assortment of TV crews ready to take live footage and interview those fielding near the boundary.

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But the occasion was so uplifting I didn't feel any real nerves. We were put into field and spent an hour or so running around trying to cut off boundaries and dropping catches. I'm pleased to report that although I didn't catch one, more importantly, I didn't drop one either. And the Fanatics duly knocked off 200 off their 20 overs.

Storm clouds gathered as we went into bat. Which in no way excuses the fact that after 6 overs we were 40 for 3. I was going in at number 6 which meant that only one more wicket had to fall before I was in. At this point the skies went black, rain started to come down and there was even a brief lightning interlude which forced everyone off the pitch.

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Any thoughts the rain might save the team's blushes (and prevent me from having to face a pack of Aussie quicks) was soon diminished by the locals who assured us it would pass quickly. And so it proved. And two balls into the restart I was in.

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To say I approached the game in a slip shod manner would be an understatement. I had to dash to the shops moments before the bus turned up to buy the cheapest trainers I could lay my hands on. I wouldn't have thought about it if Mark hadn't remarked it might be a bit unwise to face the fast bowling with flip flops on. So as I walked into bat with pads on, took the gloves from the batsman out I had a horrible few moments as he fished out his box and handed it to me. Nice.

But my problems didn't end there as I was wearing totally inappropriate underwear. Any thoughts of quick singles went out the window as I was forced to run with one hand on my box to stop it falling down my trouser leg! What a sight I must have been after a gazelle like sprinted two ended with me frantically trying to rearrange my box which not only had travelled halfway down my leg it had turned upside down.

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Anyway, to cut a long and painful story slightly shorter, I scratched around for a bit. I couldn't lay the bat on the ball throughout my first two overs. The closest I got to a scoring shot was when I tried to pull a short one and it slapped my unguarded thigh. Yaroo! However I sorted things out, scored 17 and even hit a boundary. I also averted ever lasting shame when the Aussie cheerleader type who was positioned at first slip dropped a catch as I sliced it straight to her. Considering there was about 4 cameras filming the action I was more than relieved.

With a few overs to go I finally succumbed to the bowling, managing to step so far forward in the crease I yorked myself and sent the wicket all over the place. But as I walked off, with one hand on my box, I felt pretty pleased with my efforts.

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The second Test starts tomorrow and I'm hoping England can adopt the same kind of no nonsense approach to the game that I showed today.

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