Tuesday, June 14, 2005

Stick THAT on yer barbie

Following England 100-run mauling of Australia last night, the Times reports:

SNOBBERY begone. Let us make Test matches a thing of the past, let us consign the one-day international to the landfill site of history and let us embrace Twenty20 as the best — no, the only form of the game. Never mind beauty and let subtlety go hang, for last night England wiped the floor with Australia in a cricket match.

TO A mixture of delight and disbelief among a capacity crowd of 15,000, Australia began the Ashes summer by suffering the kind of defeat that even they have rarely inflicted upon opponents. The only concern for England on a balmy evening when almost everything went right is that expectation among the public will be even higher for the weeks ahead.

Led by Jon Lewis, on his first appearance at this level, and Darren Gough, England claimed seven wickets for eight runs during a storybook passage of 20 balls to ensure that the first Twenty20 international in this country will remain long in the memory. At one point a chorus of “Are you Bangladesh in disguise?” rang around the stands, as Australia subsided to the second-lowest Twenty20 total in this country after Sussex’s 67 against Hampshire at Hove almost a year ago.

Ok, it was only Twenty20, but it was terrific entertainment and wonderful to watch the Aussies squirm in humiliation.

It might mean nothing for the one-dayers and the Ashes, or it might mean everything. There were at least two key things from the game:

1. For the first time in recent memory, the Aussies now know that we’re not frightened of them. They’ve also found out that this team can dig itself out of tight spots through grit and determination, instead of suffering the traditional middle-order collapse.

2. For once, it was us dishing out the intimidation. In the context of the game, Flintoff’s ferocious short bowling into the ribs and throat of Bret Lee was pointless. But as a taster of what to expect come August, it was genius.

Having got my hands on some prized tickets for the first game proper in Bristol on Sunday, I’m getting really quite excited…

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