Second Test — Day 2: The Aussies have a disastrous day and I lose my flag

By Ben Jensen

To say myself and the lovely wife were looking forward to today at Lord’s is an understatement.  Last year we lived a stone’s throw from the ground and vowed to do anything possible to get to the Ashes Test.  Anything – even sign up to be a member of the England’s Supporters Club “Twelfth Man” thing.  So despite the dodgy effort at bowling on Day 1, we were looking forward to a speedy wrap-up of the tail, and some world-class batting from the Australians, and we had hopes of seeing the Queen and maybe even Richie Benaud.  We made our way down from Edinburgh on the train before checking out our old neighbourhood to see what had changed.

The entrance ticket puzzled me; a maximum of 750 millilitres of alcohol per person could be taken into the ground.  A maximum!  Gee, back home you’re allowed a maximum of nothing and you’re lucky if you can get full-strength beer.

Despite gloomy forecasts and ominous showers, it was reasonably sunny when we walked from Harrow Road to St John’s Wood.  Our first setback was soon to occur, though; at the body search area they let through amounts of alcohol that far exceeded 750 mils but my Australian flag was confiscated as a prohibited item. I was told to wait until a Green Team manager came over.  He took me to the Confiscated Items Office where said flag was deposited and I was given a number so that I could collect it later; not too bad really. They weren’t this toffy at the Oval for the World T20; flags were allowed there; cans, bottles, etc, were not.  As this was occurring Strauss went out, second ball of the day, bowled Hilfenhaus (sure I saw that name in Germany last weekend).

Went to take our seats in the Compton Stand, top deck.  Fantastic view of the ground, although no cover.  Had to wait to take our seats, and as we did so another wicket fell, this time Swann, caught Ponting bowled Siddle.  This brought groans from the Poms and cheers from the smattering of Aussies, and allowed us to find our seats.  The steward handed us each two feet of kitchen absorbent towelling; a sign of things to come no doubt.

We were smack in the middle of legitimate members of the ECB Twelfth Man club, with a few interlopers like us in between.  Next bay, though, was mainly folk from Australia, mostly “grey ghosts” on package tours, kitted out in various supplied uniforms that did look a treat.  Broad went out the very next over; like skipper Strauss he was bowled by Hilfenhaus.  I felt cock-a-hoop by now; after the Poms had been none-for nearly two hundred, we were going to bowl the bastards out for well under 400.

Unfortunately, three bowlers, Jimmy Anderson, Graeme Onions and Mitchell Johnson, had other ideas.  Every run these guys made was cheered like the Ashes had been won; I mean every run.  Soon the 400 was posted to justifiably immense cheers, as the Aussies bled runs at a rate of five an over.  No cheers were louder than for the bloke who popped his champagne cork into the lower deck, or for any Aussie overthrows.  It actually surprised me how raucous the fans were; I expected a reserved crowd, not one cheering every quick single or popped cork.

England were finally all out for 405. It was time for a quick drink and coincidentally the Queen’s arrival, as the St George’s Cross was taken down and replaced with some sort of Royal Standard.  On a tour here last year we learned Prince Phillip had twice been president, so I thought he might have been here today but not his more famous missus.  The tenth wicket ended up costing 47 runs.

The Royal visit combined with Anderson and Onions’ tail-wagging efforts lifted the Poms’  morale sky-high, and the young Aussie opener Phil Hughes was again the first wicket to fall for Australia, this time for just four runs, the wicket taken by Anderson in the third over.  His replacement, skipper Ponting, didn’t last much longer, going out in mildly controversial circumstances two overs later, caught by his opposite number and bowled Anderson.  Ponting wanted the umpires to give him out rather than walk. The decision passed to the third umpire, who ruled the catch had been taken cleanly.

The Aussies were certainly in a bit of a hole now at 10 for 2 and Katich still on nought.  By lunch they had crept to 22 runs for no further loss. It was altogether a disastrous session.

Not a lot of excitement after lunch. Two rain delays at least gave us a chance to engage in a bit of polite banter with our neighbours. I heard one bloke’s story of his cricket trips to the Caribbean and how at The Oval in the 1980s the crowd would be three-quarter West Indians and there was a great atmosphere.  We found the same at the World T20 game against the Windies back in May.  After the first delay, the pompous bloke next to me returned to grab his bag, but seemed in an altered state of mind and hurried off.

On the wireless, Ian Chappell was, as usual, in his element during the rain delay, telling very amusing stories of his time in the Australian side.  Just love the way he tells stories and does his impersonations of others with a bit of an uneducated tone no matter who he’s quoting.  Also for the second game running, Dizzy Gillespie got asked to tell us all about the time he made two hundred for Australia, in case nobody had heard it at Cardiff last week.

Pompous bloke returned sans bag but holding laptop and blackberry. There were still a few spits of rain as he took his seat.  Showed everyone a photo on his blackberry that his mate had sent him, from the MCC bar.  Shortly after the mate returned from his life-changing experience.  Pompous one asked if he had his bag; no he said, so pompous one asked around after said bag.  We had to turn away to hide the giggles.

Lefties Katich and Hussey batting very sensibly, giving nothing but creeping towards fifty runs each to reach 87 for 2 by tea, held late, at 4.20pm, due to the rain delays.  Pompous one eventually realised he’d lost it so he set off at tea, promising to buy the folk behind a bottle of wine (he didn’t come back).

We were then treated to a bit of cricket royalty, as Richie Benaud joined others were inducted into some sort of hall of fame.  If only Richie or his younger broadcasting colleague Shane Warne could roll the arm over and let Nathan Hauritz rest that dislocated finger of his …

Flintoff took the ball first after tea.  The hundred was up shortly after, from 30 overs, as I bet the missus that Katich would reach 50 first.  I soon lost this bet as Katich was out leg-glancing into the deep, caught by Stuart Broad, to the cheers from the Lord Tavener’s stand,  off Onions for 48. Australia was 103 for 3.

Flintoff gave Michael Clarke two high balls to start off with, to “ooohs” from the fans, but Clarke was soon off the mark with a single.  Hussey scored his fifty with a single from the next ball. A few in our area stood and clapped politely.  Next over, however, he left a 95 mile an hour ball from Flintoff that removed his off stump, leaving us on 111 for 4, and the rot set in again.

Clarke was next to go, caught at mid-on by Cook from Anderson, 111 for 5 now.  First talk of Australia needing to follow-on, but the two in now (North and Haddin) each made centuries at Cardiff (then again so did Katich and Ponting).

Haddin got off the mark stylishly — well, sort of — three from a misfield.  But his technique was flawless as he gave every ball the respect it deserved, meticulously counting the number of fielders each delivery so he knew where he could score.  North was similarly conservative, but seemed content to block out each delivery and not make a single run.  After umpteen balls and about half an hour he was out for a duck, bowled middle peg by that man Anderson, who is starting to menace with both bat and ball like Flintoff of 2005.

Started to feel a bit sorry for my clansman by now, as English sportsmanship came to the fore. Anyone in yellow who went for a slash got a rousing “cheerio” on the way out.  It was now up to Johnson to atone for his bowling effort and have a long innings and let Haddin score.  He was out soon, however, playing a shot similar to Katich but in front of our stand, caught near the boundary by Cook off Broad for 4. It was 148 for 7 as “Are you Kiwis in disguise …” was chanted out.

The 150 was brought up before Haddin got himself out, a real shame after such a promising innings, hooking, caught Cook off Broad for 28.  Hauritz now took to the field, dodgy finger and all.  Not surprisingly, an over later when the light was offered the Aussies charged from the field at 156 for 8 at a little before half past six.  On the way out we saw our mate with the lost bag, only this time he was minus his laptop also and really looked in a state.

A perfect day’s cricket for the English fan; the tail wagged, the Queen appeared, and Aussie batsmen were shaking in their boots.  And for many folk the £125 charge for a magnum of champagne was no object, so why wouldn’t you be happy!

I didn’t think it could have gone much worse from an Australian’s point of view.  But I will not forget today and I will make sure that there is similar sportsmanship next time I make it to an Ashes test at the MCG.

I still think we can save this game, or even win it. We just need the top four to get a century each in the follow-on and then the bowlers to skittle the Poms for under 200 in the fourth innings.

About Ben Jensen

Geelong fanatic back in town after a few years away.


  1. A bit of a post-script. I didn’t realise on the day Punter’s dismissal was such a joke; Didn’t have the radio up and running at the time. He copped lots of jeers from my section when he didn’t just walk, but why would you walk if you’re not given out after not actually hitting the ball? I don’t think an England player would have done anything different. Bad decision that may well have cost us, although the way things went he may well have been out hooking next ball.

    Keep an eye out for these yobs next Ashes down under.

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