From: Stephen Rodney
To: Simon Barnes
Sent: 21 December 2006 17:16
Subject: A Perth tale...
Dear Mr Barnes
As an ardent cricket fan of the non "Barmy Army" variety , I hope youwill forgive me for writing you on the subject of my experiences ofbeing in the same 5 star hotel as both the English team and indeed manyof your journalistic "colleagues" for the last week or so in Perth.I thought it might be best if I diarised the experience of myself and mycompanion, another who prefers luxury to discomfort! I can't beabsolutely sure of all times due to various (occasionally alcoholic)reasons but I hope my point will be clear fairly early on.
Monday 11th December - c 10pm-T Day minus 3 days - we've been in Ausabout 10 hours now; just settling in - have found our seats at the Bar,along with Messrs Botham, Atherton, Hussein etc; wow, those Sky guyscertainly have a tough life! Just re-reading how Arsene Wenger doesn'treally respect English players because of their drinking culture etc. Ohyes, forgot to mention that Messrs Bell, Jones and assorted others arealso keeping us company. Oh well, I suppose they've got 3 whole days torecover.
Tuesday 12th December - c9am - T Day minus 2 days - a funny thinghappened this morning. Maybe we just had hallucinatory hangovers orsomething but I could've sworn we've just seen many of the Englishplayers stroll into breakfast with their wives, children, prams, nappies- what a lovely holiday scene! It's just like Germany 2006. And didn'twe do well there too? And look, instead of sitting with each other,talking, strategising, having a laugh, bonding (God forbid!) the playersare all sitting on separate tables with their wives and children,looking pretty glum and not even talking to each other! Ah, that'ssweet, one of the 342 staff travelling with the players is sitting nextto Monty who otherwise, without wife or child, would've been sitting onhis todd. How thoughtful.
Wednesday 13th December- c9.15am-T Day minus 1 day - we've just had thesame hallucinatory experience as yesterday except that KP and Monty seemto have found each other at breakfast. Oh yes and Andrew Strauss can beheard laughing about how little sleep he got last night 'cos his nipperwas up half the night! What a 21st century man he is. I mean if I waspossibly going to be facing the best cricket bowling attack in the worldwithin 24 hours, I would probably want at least 12 hours completelyuninterrupted sleep - that Strauss bloke must be super-human!
Thursday 14th December - c9.15am- it's Test Match Day - came down tobrekkie -excellent to see that the boys are down the WACA practising - Imean if I was any one of Strauss, Jones, Cook, Flintoff, Harmison, I'dhave been up and sorting my batting , bowling etc. Afterall, it's not asthough they don't need the practice! Wait a moment, it's all happeningagain; they're all rolling into brekkie - the WAGs, the kids, theprams, the nappies. Well at least they'll all be sitting together on themorning of the match won't they? Oh of course, they can't can they -ifthat happened, the WAGs would be all upset and we can't have that canwe?
Friday 15th December - c 11.30 PM - we get back from dinner and guesswhat? Ian Bell has obviously had a lovely diner somewhere and quiteunderstandably wants to wash it all down with a bottle of that lovelyAussie beer we've all been drinking. And his lovely wife has bought abottle for him. How romantic! We think we can add to this touching sceneby generously sending over another bottle saying that whilst he'spissing away the Ashes, he might as well have another one on us! But ourgenerosity deserts us at the last minute.
Saturday 16th September - c 9.15am - rather than hallucinating thismorning, I think I've gone back in time. I come down to breakfast to seeKP deep in conversation with Michael Vaughan, who is dressed in hisEnglish gear. I could've sworn Vaughany had been injured for months andhad said he had no intention of being anywhere near the Test scene inAus. And now he's actually in the same hotel as all the other guys!Well, he wouldn't want to be seen as being an interloper would he? MaybeKP thinks Vaughany's experience can be helpful to him? Freddie'sprobably got enough on his plate anyway!
Sunday 17th December - c9.30am - the usual scene in the breakfast room.We are queuing for our eggs and sausages next to Michael Atherton. Mycolleague remarks at what a lovely family scene it all this. Athers sayswell that's what happens at home so he can't see what the fuss is allabout. Funny that, my colleague remarks, when they're playing at home,don't they stay in hotels on their own during the Test Matches? Athersstabs a sausage meaningfully and moves away. Lovely to see allcricketers, old and new, sticking together.
Monday 18th December - c11pm - we've just been out drowning our sorrows after Christmas has come a bit early for England and we've been stuffedharder from behind (and in front and indeed sideways) than any turkeycould reasonably expect to be. We feel in need of a bit of cheering up.We get back to the hotel to see much merriment going on in the Bar. We figure it's those naughty Sky journos again, living it up. But no, it'smost of the English squad (plus WAGS obviously) laughing and joking.Well I suppose it was only a game of cricket after all. And I'm sure allthose people who've spent all that cash coming out to see the gamesreally wouldn't mind the guys looking as though they've just lost avillage match would they? The really funny thing though is that in themiddle of this throng of laughter, one player stands out as looking asthough he's feeling a bit upset. Trust him to spoil the frivolities,that KP. Oh and where's Monty? Gone to bed early someone said. Anotherparty pooper.
Mr Barnes, all the above is true. If it seems unbelievable it was. Andwhat's worse I haven't seen any newspaper article about how this chaosmust have without question been a factor in our dismal performances.I hope you can find a way to cover this aspect of what I suspect in timewill be seen as one of the most disastrous cricket tours in a long time.Isn't it funny how in the last few years we've done a lot better whenthe players have gone to WAGs unpopular places like India and Pakistan?
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