Thank God it's all over.... bring on 2009!

Trip Start Oct 29, 2003
Trip End Ongoing

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Flag of Australia  ,
Friday, January 5, 2007

On the long overnight bus from Melbourne I sat next to a Japanese guy watching a film on his laptop. Seeing as my iPod was stolen in Brisbane (I'm only now coming to terms with my loss) and the reading lights weren't working I thought I might be able to catch a bit of Japanese culture. I thought maybe a classic by Kurosawa Akira or perhaps a witty vignette from Hirazaki Mayao. Even one of those Japanimation things would have been alright. Instead I got Julie bloody Andrews in The Sound of Music. It was a very long trip.

Thankfully Paul and Dave met me when I arrived before I strangled the guy. It was New Year's Eve and Paul's in-laws have thoughtfully just purchased a rather incredible flat over-looking the Sydney Harbour Bridge. So together with Dave & Tracy and Phil & Kim (plus kids) from home we braved the crowds and hopped on the ferry to Circular Quay. After dumping our stuff and putting the beer and champers on ice it was off down to Bradfield Park under the Harbour Bridge with our backyard cricket set for a quick bash around. Not a bad setting I think you'll agree, and one which will definitely put Canvey Island further down the list of best places I've played. People were joining in with the fielding as they walked past, including a group of policemen and several drunken revellers who may or may not have made it to 2007.

Fortunately, we did. Back upstairs in the penthouse we quaffed a few ales as dusk fell and the crowds below swelled by the thousands. Hundreds of boats circled the harbour as the first of two firework displays went off at 9pm. Then the big one went off at midnight with the bridge lighting up like a bridge covered in a million fireworks. It was superb (see previous entry for the photos).

The following night I blew my budget when we all went out to a wonderful restaurant where none other than squeaky-voiced World Cup '66 winner Alan Ball was probably saying how different the game was in his day and the money players players earned nowadays is a disgrace etc etc. I'm not sure what he had for dessert, [appalling pun warning!] but some people went for the peach; they thought it pavlova....

It seemed like my taste-buds would be dancing for days after that dinner but they were soon left with the bitter taste of yet another embarrassingly spineless England display in the fifth Test at the SCG. From a cricket point of view it was a historic day with two legends (Warne and McGrath) and one quite good (Langer) all retiring following the game. Put that with the first 5-0 Ashes drubbing in 86 years and I might get a few bob for my used tickets on eBay.

I thought I could have become numb to defeat over the past six weeks but it is still painful - out of embarrassment more than anything. You have to give the Aussies credit however (ouch!) as they have been truly ruthless in the series. As famously described by former England captain Graham Gooch in 1990 it was "like a fart competing with thunder." The whole England set-up has been a shambles going right back to September 2005 when the team were bestowed MBEs for winning, something that really got up Australian noses - and Shane Warne's in particular.

Can we turn it round in the one-day version of the game? I doubt it, but for my sins I'll be there at the MCG for the first one - and probably my last.

Finally, a big thanks to Paul and Edwina for putting me up again. See you again in four years' time...
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