Best in the world? You're having a laugh!

Originally uploaded to Spinneyworld 24/08/05

Last Monday Spinneyworld sent Clare to the final day of the Third Test as a wandering reporter. Here’s her report-

The start of the fourth test is approaching, so I shall tell my tale of the final day at Old Trafford. I can definitely say it was worth a tenner! It was even worth getting up stupidly early so I could get the tickets; the tiredness eventually went away with several cups of overpriced tea. Other than tea at £1.50 and beer at £3 (my student stinginess have obviously stayed with me), it was a brilliant day with brilliant people too.

When I got in, some time after nine, I searched for somewhere to sit. Whilst looking for a spare couple of seats, I almost sat in the no-alcohol area; that would have been scary. I finally found some decent seats but no one sat to the right of me for ages, I thought I must have smelled or something. That was until the excitable Australians came along, in particular Mick aka “Box Head” and his bro Matt aka “Box Head Junior”.

The sun was shining the cricketers were stretching, could life be better? Before the day started I assumed we were to draw; 10 wickets in one day, against the so called best in the world, not likely! I was going to enjoy a good day’s cricket no matter what the result was and being a pessimist works for me. However contrary to my belief it started well, the first wicket fell pretty quickly – Langer was only in for 42 minutes total. He was caught out by Jones, with a pitiful score of 14 runs. Another supposed batsman Hayden does similarly poorly as Flintoff bowls him out for 36, although he did get a six, which was happily displayed by my new Australian friend. These were the only wickets to fall before lunch; I just kept thinking “damn we should have declared earlier”. Wickets fell at a greater pace after lunch, many thanks to the man Andrew Flintoff; unfortunately Ponting’s fantastic form was giving the Australians a reasonable total. Maybe it’s a good thing we tallied up those extra few before declaring? My mind changed yet again as we experienced a long lull of wicketless dullness. The crowd amused themselves by doing Mexican waves, I had to join in of course. There was a particular patch where they were obviously dull farts and wouldn’t play. They received a “boo” from the crowd each time, followed by a “yay” once they were passed. Maybe this section was the alcohol-free one?

The home crowd had the hope that Flintoff would do it for us again, there was constant chanting “Su-per, super Fred, super Freddy Flintoff”, it didn’t seem to work. My attempt at turning fate was by making ultimatums with the Australians. We made a deal that if England got a wicket in the next 6 overs I’d get my boobs out. That turned Mick into an England supporter! Every time there was a possibility of a catch or something he’d shout at the top of his voice “Catch IT”. It didn’t work. It did bring about a new deal that if Australia draws he had to run around Canal Street in the nuddy. We explained what Canal Street is famous for. By the time play was stopped for tea there were still 5 wickets to go. We definitely should have declared earlier. Yet hope shone again, it was especially amusing to see Gillespie go for a big 0 from an lbw. He has definitely sucked ass in this test. He used to do well before he had the silly long hair; he was certainly a fantastic bowler, so maybe he’s like an anti-Samson?

Our pleas to Flintoff paid off as towards the end, he gets Warne out, with the help of Jones. Flintoff gets a bit excited and starts doing acrobatics to celebrate. I went similarly insane when we finally got Ponting out, we were almost there! The last half hour I was on the edge of my seat, one wicket to go. We had the captain out, could we do it? As you probably know the answer was no, giving a slight anti-climax at the end. The Aussies were over the moon, but the mood was generally happy on the other side. It had been a good day’s cricket. Also, if you want to see an Australian run in the nude, be at Canal Street on Friday 26th August!

That was one of the fantastic things about seeing a game of cricket, I don’t mean nude Australians, I mean that it’s such a friendly atmosphere and no one goes on a killing spree or a huff because their side didn’t win. The closest we had to tension was one guy shouting “Rat Boy” to Ricky Ponting as he received Man of the Match. I was invited to come out for a few drinks with the Aussies, how could I refuse? Now this wouldn’t happen in football, would it (not like I’m bitching about football). Seriously though, please inform me if a Manchester United fan has ever gone for a friendly drink with a Manchester City fan after a match.

My only criticism of cricket is that England had obviously been the superior team throughout the time at Old Trafford, yet we come out with a feeble draw! Oh well roll on Trent Bridge. You never know, this could this be the first time we win the Ashes since 1986!