Tuesday, 27 December 2011

Warm hearts

A year ago we were covered with snow and shivering through the coldest winter in ages but our hearts were being warmed by our cricket team. Here are a few pages from last years diary...

Xmas Ashes.


Christmas day was just too busy for even thinking about Cricket, at least it should be....but this is the Ashes. Nine round the table for dinner and six more joining us for the evening, three generations of my family, all of us are cricket fans, my Dad, myself and my nephew have all played weekend cricket.. We all ate too much, drank too much and a good day was had by all. Suddenly people were leaving it was 11.20 and the fourth test was about to start. I settled into a comfortable chair in front of the tele to find that England had won the toss and elected to field, which surprised me. Anderson & Tremlett opened well and the chances came but weren't taken!!!! Hughes hit the boundary and I'm thinking why didn't we bat? Then there were the wasted reviews!!!

The tide turned. Tremlett gets Watson, Hughes slashes at Bresnan and they're two down!!! Ponting gets out in the same way as normal and it's 37-3!!!! Alcohol is seducing me. I depart to bed and switch the radio on and just before I drift off to sleep Hussey is gone and Jimmy has a wicket! I wake up in the night, roll over and tune my ears into the radio, Australia are 98 all out!! Anderson & Tremlett have four apiece Happy fucking Xmas!!!

Breakfast is a very happy place this morning. I've watched the highlights and enjoyed every second! England already have a 59 run lead with all ten wickets in hand Strauss & Cook both past fifty, would love to see a ton for the captain. We can say it out loud now, the Ashes are staying home!!!!!!!


11.20pm on boxing day, a few minutes until the second day starts, hoping England will bat all day and I think they will. Australia is quiet, can anyone remember a more one sided day of Ashes cricket?

The women of the house have taken over the TV so I lay on my bed slightly worse for wear and listen to TMS on the radio. A slow start with Australia are bowling well, particularly Siddle who picks up both openers. As I start to drift off to sleep, Trott and Pietersen are beginning to get the scoreboard ticking over. We're going to be all right!

I awake sometime after day break and catch up with the close of play news and its another happy breakfast time. 444-5 with Trott on 141* and Prior 75*. KP chipped in with a fifty too. Colly failed again and Bell also got out to a daft shot. The lead is nearly 350 with 5 wickets left, couldn't have hoped for much more .

Then there's the sub plot, things don't go Ponting's way and little Ricky blows a gasket at the umpires. Not an uncommon sight on the field of play these days but this is bad even by Ponting's low standards. But perversely it's also highly amusing from an English point of view!

Now it's the early evening and I'm looking forward to play beginning again tonight, why wouldn't I? England should bat on and grind out the runs, there's still loads of time in the match. If the two not out bats play themselves in they could look to force it. Could see Prior and the tail playing some big shots.

I'm wide awake at 11.30 but things don't go exactly to plan. Siddle bowls really well for six wickets, Hilfenhaus picks up a couple he deserved. But unfortunately for Australia Johnson is complete cack and Harris goes off the field with an injury. For England Prior added 10 to his overnight score but of the tail, only Swann wags with 20 odd. Trott finished unbeaten on 168 giving only one chance towards the end. England all out for 513 a lead of 415. Now as I head to bed at the lunch break, it'll be time for the bowlers to come out and do their thing.


Fantastic news at breakfast time! England's bowlers did come out and do their thing but not before the Aussies had put together a couple of decent partnerships. The hapless Hughes was run out then Bresnan of all people ripped through the top order. At the other end Swann bowled brilliantly to dry up the scoring and picked up a wicket as did Anderson. All the Aussie batsmen bat exactly how we've come to expect, except Hussey, who failed. At close of play Australia are 160-6 with the injured Harris highly unlikely to bat. England need three wickets to retain the Ashes and nothing will stop them.

The day passes slowly until a nice evening at my mum's house. Can't wait for the start of play though, I'm confident it'll be all over before lunch and I'm going to watch it all.


With a massively full belly I finally settled in front of the TV just too late to see Johnson bowled by Tremlett. The room is full of noisy teenage girls (long story...) but they don't get in the way of the cricket. The likeable and talented duo of Haddin & Siddle swing the bat with some success to ruin Swann's figures. It's getting frustrating, why not take the new ball? For the first time this winter the fielding standards have dropped too. Eventually Siddle slogs one too many and is caught on the boundary. Hilfenhaus falls to Bresnan who has produced a career best 4-50 and it's game over. Australia are thrashed in just over 3 days and the Ashes retained. I head off to bed and listen to some of the celebrations on the radio before drifting off to sleep. The Christmas present we wanted has been delivered.

The evening TV highlights are joyous, the team celebrating with the best travelling sports fans in the world, the Barmy Army!! It's wonderful to watch but nice to note in the interviews that the players know the job isn't done yet. To be fair, Ponting was gracious in defeat, as he was in his two previous tastes of Ashes defeat.

Next stop Sydney for another must win match. England's selectors have the happy task of deciding which bowling line up to use. All those who have played so far have performed superbly so it will have to be horses for courses. I can't see anyone being rested, England will want to win. Likewise Collingwood will keep his place, maybe he deserves one last chance?

Australia's selection problems are much greater. They'll hope Katich is fit to replace Hughes. But what about Ponting and Clarke? Are either worth their place in the team for batting or captaincy?Who is there to replace them? Haddin should bat at six and Smith should go back to school. Johnson was Johnson. Siddle was superb, Hif was unlucky and Harris is crocked. Are they duty bound to play Michael Beer in Sydney?

Tuesday, 6 December 2011


I got bored of the whole book thing. I still have a book on the go at all times, I'll never stop reading but writing about books is a struggle for me. By the time I sit down with time on my hands I've read a couple more books and the details of the one I want to write about are hazy at best. I thought about deleting this blog but on reflection decided to use it for what ever I feel like writing about (which may well include books at some point). I expect a lot of it will feature my addiction to following the England test cricket team, hence the title.

It's a shame I didn't start this a couple of years ago as since losing away in the West Indies our test team has remained undefeated in a series and are now rightly acclaimed the No.1 Test team in the world! Not only that, we didn't lose one single test match during 2011. This, after decades of, at best, inconsistency and utter crap at worst. We are also the world champions at T20 however our current ODI performances are best described by the previous sentence. It's a great time to be an English cricket fan! However, the winter tours in the new year will not be easy and I'm looking forward to them already. Following that I have tickets to watch England vs West Indies at Trent Bridge in May and I'm at the Oval in July to watch England play South Africa.

What else am I interested in? Beer, wine & food are the first three things to enter my head. My favourite Suffolk brewery and their bitter certainly hits the spot as does the 'Light house' beer from a bottle. I'm no expert on this stuff but I do know a good pint when I drink one. Likewise with Wine. I haven't a clue what makes an expert purr but I am partial to a drop of Red and I know what I like. The Blossom Hill signature Italian for example, three bottles for a tenner in Asda at the moment. Co-op always do good wine and I try not to spend much more than a fiver on a bottle, Lime Tree Cab Sav is a good one. With beer I usually get too bloated to get drunk but with wine I occasionally manage to get myself slaughtered without realising I'm doing it. Often with calamitous results. I pretty much like all food and luckily there's a great Pub/restaurant just five minutes walk away. My favourite is seafood an the 'Captains catch' at the Needham Lion is delicious. This is a much more economical option that flying to Spain for the Tapas but I love that too.

Another thing is music and Friday night saw me and a group of nearest and dearest descend on Saffend to see “Fat boy Slim” play. I think this is the first show I've been to where the headliner has been a DJ and a bloody good experience it was too. Cracking trippy light show and effects with a big banging sound. I danced till my feet ached then went to bed at 0415. At 0645 I got up for work.... Best gig of the year was “The Eels” at the Latitude festival, which incidently is a brilliant chilled out, laid back festival and I have my tickets booked for next year already.

Following on the musical theme, we are no longer allowed to have a radio at work. This isn't down to over zealous bosses but in fact down to some royalties group/musical union or something like that. Apparently we need to pay several hundred pounds for a broadcasting license. What a load of complete bollocks! As we are no longer listening to music all day we will find it much harder to hear 'new' music so are therefore less likely to buy any CDs and the musicians will make less money out of royalties!!! However, on the plus side I'm not being driven insane by those hideous, cheesy, crappy Christmas songs that blight the airwaves at this time of year. I like Noddy Holder but I bloody know it's Christmas, and Roy fucking Wood I'm glad it's not Xmas every day other wise I'd have to listen to your crap all the time.

Finally books. The last really good book I read was a Colin Dexter 'Morse' detective thingy. It was pretty good but I can't remember the title, something to do with a Jewel. I also like the Rebus books by Ian Rankin and have read a few of those recently. Nearly forgot...”On Chesil Beach” by Ian McEwan. Really interesting read, completely different to the other books I've read by the same author and gripping till the end. Really liked that one.

Here are the last two reviews I wrote before I forgot about this blog.

The Museum's Secret by Henry Chancellor

The museums secret is strictly speaking, a children's book but it came recommended and for personal reasons I decided to do just that. It began in intriguing fashion with the prologue but when the story began in earnest I found it a bit laboured.

Through the beginning of the book I was struggling. I didn't find the characters at all convincing and the plot did not suspend my disbelief. However the longer the book went on the better it got and the more I enjoyed it.

As I read further the pieces of the literary jigsaw began to fall into place, not entirely to my satisfaction but enough to hold my attention. It would be possible to pick certain parts of it to pieces but what the hell? I was enjoying it! For me the ending was a bit of a rush but all the loose ends were tied up.

It's inevitable that all books of this type will be compared to the Harry Potter series and this one is not in that league. However all in all it's a good read kids and younger teenagers.

Worth reading

The Blood Detective by Dan Waddell

This came recommended just when I'd run out of reading and came at a good time as it's quite a while since I've read a 'Crime Novel'. This one is a little different as the real star of the show is Nigel Barnes, not a detective of crime but one who researches and finds peoples ancestry. When a series of murders are linked to history, Nigel is called in to trace the past.

A nice book, well written and easy to read. Not a 'who dunnit?' more a 'who is he?'. I flew through the pages during breaks at work but it wasn't a book that had me searching for it in the evening. It's highly entertaining but not riveting.

Enjoyed but give me a P.D. James