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

About Me

Thursday, 20 August 2009

The ageing process

Sitting on the steps between the press box and the punters in the Vauxhall Road End you'd have been forgiven for thinking I was watching a public hanging. With hands wringing and nails a'biting I spent most of the day peering up at the heavens or with my eyes fixed superstitiously on the bowlers run up convinced that if I concentrated enough then so would the batsmen.

The morning session was as tense as I can remember seeing in the flesh. Sure, there have been many instances in the past that has seen me nervously pace around the living room watching a valiant rear guard action. Hell, my life seems to have been spent pretty much doing nothing but. But I couldn't recall ever actually being at a single days play with so much riding on it. And I couldn't remember ever feeling quite so ill during a days play either.

And it wasn't just a final game, winner takes all Ashes win that occupied my mind on the short journey to the ground. With friends and family attending the first four days I attempted to envisage a perfect scenario whereby everyone English would be catered for but that wouldn't involve such perfect weather to make batting too easy for the Aussies. It was more difficult than you'd think. Especially when bringing the toss into the equation.

The big fear was that under blameless skies, Ricky Ponting would win the toss and the Aussies would be out of sight by the end of the first days play. Thankfully he called incorrectly but this just added to the tension. For the last time England won the toss and batted they made 102 and were out of the game by lunch. That was last week. Even my memory isn't so bad that I could forget that.

So I spent the first session with head in hands (between deliveries) and a refusal to get carried away as England went to lunch on top. In this respect I was well served. As is England's want, a promising situation was thrown away as they lost wickets at regular intervals. But such is the weakness of the English mentality some solace was garnered from the fact that at least we were making a fight of things.

By the end of the days play both sets of former player turned pundits were making a good case for England's 306 for 8 not being too far off a par score. Much notice was taken of the way the pitch appeared to be breaking up and offering big turn so early in the match. With runs on the board England, some were saying, were in the box seat.

But until we see the Aussies bat all judgement will be rested. Even if 350 is a par score I can't see them making much less. All of which would set things up rather nicely in a game that now looks destined to end in a result either way. Tonight, I suppose, I will go to sleep reasonably content that England live to fight another day. Which says a lot about my expectations as an English cricket fan.

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