Thursday, December 14, 2006

Perth produces pearler

My hotel tagline glares "Extraordinary, every day" on its website and England were going to have to produce that before day one in Perth, at least to be in with a shout of this spiralling-out-of-control Ashes series.

So what a day of Test cricket - the second in a row for the neutral fan which also saw Billy the Trumpet Man back, licking his lips by the the fifth over of the morning. It wasn't a bad toss to lose for Freddie as Australia's batsmen fell three down at lunch before Michael Hussey's partners just forgot how to form a partnership.

It's taken two Tests in waiting but it seems something always happens when Monty's in your side. Few spin bowlers seem to have that extra zest but he's got it alright and a third five-wicket haul in Test cricket, coupled with Steve Harmison's straightness left Australia all-out on day one.

But how the last hour was agony to watch for the English fan. I wondered if Hussey was given orders to let the lower-order face the bowling so they in-turn could get 15-odd overs at the English. It worked and the way the ball hit the deck was probably testament to how the WACA of old used to play.

I imagined then the days of Lillee and Thomson running in during the Seventies with a raucous crowd behind them. The fans today at least soaked up the atmosphere and there was a comical moment on the Hill to show for it: first a scuffle broke out; then an Aussie girl's boyfriend was taken away; huge cheers when he came back in; two minutes later the girlfriend was escorted out. Like that lovers' tiff, it's anyone's guess as to how this Test will play out.

**There's another Ashes podcast up at Nobok Sports. Listen to it here. Find the Monty scan at the After Grog Blog.