Wednesday, 22 November 2006

Here we go, here we go, here we go...

Ok, not the most *inventive* of titles, but I'm too nervous to be inventive right now. We're 35 minutes from the beginning of Ashes coverage and 95 minutes from the first over being bowled. Will we win the toss? Will we bat first? What's the pitch like at the Gabba? I know what the weather like is in Brisbane - I've checked obsessively. It's sunny, already 23 C (73 F) at 9am local time, with a predicted high of 27 C (80 F). Good cricket weather, except for the 95% humidity - and they're ready to start cooking in that cauldron of a cricket ground. I'm also keeping an eye on the BBC Ashes countdown, which has comments from everyone from Andrew Flintoff (our captain) to people going down for the test in Melbourne come Boxing Day.

Not that I want to be in Australia, mind - too many large and/or poisonous spiders, toilets flush the other way, spring in November and so on. (Do we hear the sound of a cricket fan convincing herself, boys and girls? I think we do!) There are good things about Australia - Ian Thorpe in a Speedo comes to mind - but all in all, I'm quite happy to be home with the autumn nights drawing in, on GMT with the ability and excuse to sleep through the Test matches. Yes, you read that right. *SLEEP* through them.

Why, you ask? Because I can't bear to watch. I'm fine if England is in the field. If they're batting, I'm a wreck, waiting for wickets to fall with every ball bowled at them. Just ask Headingley, when our opening batsmen faced the last over of the day and ran for a tight single, I buried my head in her shoulder and screamed, "DON'T DO IT!" Highlights? Great. Live, with this much pressure against the Aussies? Only if I want to die of a heart attack within the next seven weeks. It's a weird excuse that leaves my friends scratching their heads, "It matters far too much to watch it live. If I know we're screwed, I can grit my teeth and watch the highlights. If we're winning, I watch the highlights with pleasure. It's the uncertainty I can't bear."

I'm not that way with all cricket matches...if it's an ODI (One day international), no problem. West Indies? I love Brian Lara, no problem. But if the match is REALLY important? Like a crucial Ashes opening Test match? PROBLEM. As in "problem the size of Siberia".

Right, taking a peek at the Ashes countdown, just a *peek*, mind - the wicket looks hard, bouncy and fast. Like the Oval. CAPTAIN FLINTOFF, IF YOU WIN THE TOSS, BAT, MATE. AS IN B-A-T. THE VERB, NOT THE ANIMAL. NONE OF THIS NASSAR HUSSAIN CRAP WHERE YOU *FIELD* FIRST AND HAVE THE AUSSIES LAUGH YOU OUT OF THE COUNTRY. There's going to be enough trouble with Geraint "oops, I dropped Justin Langer on 5 and he went on to get 157" Jones and an uncertain Ashley Giles...rather than a Chris "caught Langer on 5 and ran Ponting out on 8" Read and Monty "destroy the middle order? No problem" Panesar. (WIN THE TOSS.)

*Deep breath* Twenty minutes till the toss and the final team announcement (BAT). Erm, maybe it's time for me to stop typing and go. to. bed. Oh, a friend has just come on MSN..that means I'll be online for at least an hour. Till after the start of the match. (WIN THE TOSS.)

Not that I'll check cricinfo or anything. Or sneak downstairs to peek at the television screen Mark will be watching avidly - except I'll be doing it through my hands. (BAT. This isn't an attempt at subliminal persuasion, I swear.)

Here we go, here we go, here we matter what disagreements I have with the selection, good luck, boys, every last one of you. Do us proud.

As per Aussie Scott at the Corridor, "let's get ready to rumble" - may we get some fantastic cricket - and may the best team win. (WIN. THE. TOSS.)

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