Melbourne Test – Day 2: Down from the bush

England 255 (KP Pietersen 71, MG Johnson 5/63) v Australia 9/164 (CJL Rogers 61, BJ Haddin 43*, SCJ Broad 3/30, JM Anderson 3/50)              Stumps Day 2

During the Day 1 broadcast of the 4th Test on ABC radio I heard Kerry O’Keefe quote Australian entrepreneur John Singleton, who is alleged to have said “If you use public transport after the age of 30 you have failed in life”, in relation to a fellow ABC commentator who caught the train to the game. Those words are ringing in my ears as I board the train at Gardenvale station en route to the MCG for Day 2. I have stayed the night at my brother-in-law Adam’s place after coming back to Melbourne with him on the night of Boxing Day, and plan to catch the train home after Day 2 finishes. I usually drive or am driven to the cricket so this a bit different. But as the train travels through Ripponlea, Prahran & South Yarra it feels right. There’s plenty of room on the train but a good number of cricket followers in green and gold are with me. We all depart at Richmond station for the short walk to the ‘G. ‘Singo’ has no idea, this is great. Public transport must be terrible up on the Central Coast. Even found Myki to be surprisingly easy.

Into my seat in time for the first ball. England, after resuming at 6/226, don’t last long. Mitch Johnson was superb, removing Bresnan, caught at bat-pad by Bailey, Pietersen, bowled after a horrible swipe across the line, and Broad, out LBW. Another ‘Michelle’ for Johnson in a golden Summer. He looked lightning quick watching him bowl in the flesh. Pietersen’s shot was baffling after his dogged efforts on day 1. I always wonder what the coach and captain say to him after he has been dismissed in that fashion. I know what my captain would say to me. Lyon bowls Panesar with a straight one that was left by the Englishman and the tourists innings is quickly over.

Another great crowd is in after the world record Test attendance on Day 1. The atmosphere outside the arena was fantastic. Inside the ground, despite the number of people here, it’s a bit quiet. Nothing like the noise of the Boxing Day Ashes Test of three years ago. Back then the Poms were flogging us and the Barmy Army were in great form. Today you can hardly tell they are there. Warner comes out and livens up the crowd with some audacious strokeplay. But it doesn’t last long. Out for nine. Watson is caught behind for 10 and Australia are 2/36.

After lunch I venture down from the top tier of the Southern Stand and run into renowned Almanacker and Inside Sport writer Jeff Dowsing. We talk cricket and Collingwood. Which is the basis for all good conversation. As he leaves to rejoin his mates I make my way down the bottom tier at mid-off to see Pomborneit CC alumni Bill, Fish, Skeney and Bill’s partner Frosty. ‘Bill’ is my most succesful nickname give ever. His first name is Clinton. It has endured through many years even through to his shift to Geelong and succesful career with the South Barwon CC in the Geelong Cricket Association. Fish is our bearded, sometimes angry President. Skeney is our gun recruit, averaging 40 in his late start to season 2013/14 after a knee reconstruction. And Frosty is way too good for Bill. I join their shout and start sweating it out in the sun. Clarke leaves an Anderson delivery that comes back to bowl him. Smith makes 19 before being dismissed then Rogers, in a workmanlike 61 off 171 balls that included being hit in the side of the head by Broad, plays a loose shot to a Bresnan ball that doesn’t come on and is caught by KP at mid-off. 5/112. George Bailey is given nothing by the English attack for 18 balls until he slashes hard at a short wide delivery from Anderson. Given not out by Aleem Dar but upon referral Brent ‘Billy’ Bowden gives the red light to the Tasmanian skipper on the evidence of just Snicko and no sign of anything on Hot Spot. Harsh decision but Bailey wasn’t looking like scoring a run anyway. He needs to play more positively if his Test career is to continue. The Barmy Army finally come to life. Singing songs about themselves. That annoying ‘Barmy Army, Barmy Army’ chant. But it does add to the atmosphere. Unlike 3 years ago there were no Mitch Johnson songs. Rightfully so. The Bay 13 faithful respond with chants of ‘3 Nil, 3 Nil’.

My cousins Cydette, Vicky and Michael are here with their partners and I venture around the the Olympic Stand for a quick hello. Ticketed seats make it hard for an extended catch up but it’s good to see them. Brad Haddin came out and hit the ball far better than anyone else in this Test so far. He’s in rare form but is lucky when he overturns an LBW decision upon review from the bowling of Panesar. Looked out to me and Aleem Dar, think the ball tracker may have got that wrong. Johnson, Harris and Siddle all lost their wickets as Australia finished Day 2 at 9/164. Haddin the key early on Day 3 to narrow England’s lead as much as possible, Lyon is quite capable of offering good support. Broad was superb for England, 3/30 off 16.3 overs and bowled genuinely quick. While being genuinely booed every time his name was announced. Anderson returned to form with his 3 wickets, Bresnan and Stokes also impressive. A huge day 2 crowd of 78,346 in attendance.

With time in hand before the 7PM departure time, I did the MCG to Spencer St station walk. An overbooked train saw us jammed in like the common herd to go with a half hour delay. Didn’t seem to be any air-con either. Fat blokes around me snored. I hoped most of them would get off the train at Geelong. No-one did from our carriage. They were all going to Warrnambool, apparently. I leapt off the train at 9.34, later than the scheduled 9.08. Into the coolest, freshest air imaginable. Even though it was in Colac. ‘Singo’ is right about public transport after all. I’ll be going in a car next time.

About Luke Reynolds

Cricket and Collingwood tragic. Twitter: @crackers134


  1. Sounds like a nice round trip you had Luke. Infuriating day’s cricket. The Aussies turned Pom. Lets hope they can scrap it out. I’ve been enjoying the silence of the Barmy Army.

  2. Great write up Luke. I agree Bailey needs to play positively like he did in Perth and Adelaide or he will be back to the one dayers. Hopefully he gets another chance in Sydney and hopefully the Aussies fight back today. Another 30 runs would be handy.

  3. Enjoyed the read Luke. Most likely the fat blokes heading to Warrnambool!

  4. Malcolm Ashwood says

    Thanks Luke comprehensive as always a disappointing day . I have caught public transport most times I have been to the , G and prefer it anytime to driving especially getting in to and leaving the car park ! A appalling lack of technique and ability to work the ball from both sides so far

  5. Mickey Randall says

    Good job Luke. I think questions remain on Watson, Rogers and Bailey. However, all will start against South Africa. What do you think?

  6. Luke, reminds me of early trips to the MCG, when Melbourne was so far away.

  7. Luke Reynolds says

    Think you’re right Mickey, Watson, Rogers and probably Bailey will all play in South Africa. A big break then until our next series against Pakistan in the UAE in October, where I think a couple of younger batsmen will play.

  8. I reckon you had John Singleton right first time round Luke. Public transport in your 30’s? What an elitist tosser with no regard for his carbon footprint. Stick with the trains mate, infuriating as they can be, they can also be surprisingly efficient (and it certainly beats bumper to bumper traffic.) Thanks for the entertaining read.

  9. Luke Reynolds says

    Cheers T Bone. Always happy to use the trains in Melbourne, the metropolitan rail system is superb. The V/Line country service is sadly a pale comparison.

  10. Neil Anderson says

    Luke, I was already to arc up about reference to all those fat guys on the train to Warrnambool and I remembered that it couldn’t be about me because I get off at Terang, which as you know, is one stop earlier.
    Have you ever noticed there is always at least one weird guy sitting opposite you either mumbling, drooling or suddenly yelling out something at the top of his voice?
    Well, that’s not me either.

  11. Luke Reynolds says

    Neil, had three opposite and 1 next to me mumbling, drooling & suddenly yelling. A drunk a bit further away yelling at everyone on the train. 2 crying kids. And no room in the aisles. Apart from that it was great!

  12. Well said Luke. There’s a certain atmosphere the train ride has that adds to a lazy day at the cricket. I love it actually! Also always strikes me as incredible how you can bump into mates so easily in a crowd of 78,000.

  13. Glen Potter says

    I agree with T-Bone, Singo is an elitist tosser. I’m happy to support public services because if we don’t we won’t have them around.
    But is VLine a public service? I think it is privately operated, or at least a PPT (part-private) operator. Hence as a private business they’ll run their service as fiscally tight as possible.
    I sent VLine a rather dusty message yesterday morning as I boarded the 8:06am from South Geelong to the fourth day’s play. I took my seat and soon found the aisle packed with standing commuters. Once again VLine emotionally blackmailed me to forego my seat for the frail hepta-septa-octo-nono-generian keeling over in the aisle. It happens all through the footy season too. My message criticised their foresight not to put extra carriages on when a) a marvellous test was coming to a conclusion; b) record crowds have attended this event; and c) Australia was to celebrate triumphantly. Their response was that extra buses were to be allocated. They didn’t appear, to my knowledge, until the return journey. It sounds like you’ve been ‘VLined’ on your Day 2 return trip. Love the reference to the snoring fat blokes.

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