So here we are: Brisbane. Not literally – we’re not Queenslanders, we can’t afford tickets to Australia and nor are we part of the actual media throng (which seems to comprise about three thousand different people spread across Sky, Channel 9, ABC, the BBC and Granada Men and Motors). But we’re there in spirit, ready for the action to start at the ‘Gabba. The venue of Daffy’s long-hop, Nasser’s insertion, Harmy’s wide and lest we forget, Gentle Ben dismissing Andrew Strauss for a three-ball duck (and Strauss was very nearly given out for a golden duck in the second innings, which would have not least delayed the 517-1 score and might have changed the path of the game and the series).
We’re not going to repeatedly quote those journalists and pundits who get on our tits, but one particular Malcolm Conn whose name we won’t mention has noted that England have not won in Brisbane since 1986. That is true, but holds no relevance here. For starters, the 1994 team included pensioners Graham Gooch and Mike Gatting (plus Martin MacCague batting at No. 7). And the 2006 Australian XI was marginally better than their mob today.
However, with a flattish pitch suitable for posting big scores, combined with a weather forecast that by the end of the weekend suggests more storms than Manchester in May, the draw looks a reasonable shout. But before we get too far with rubbish predictions, what about the teams?
The main question seems to be whether Australia will select James Faulkner to form a four-man pace attack whilst also strengthening their batting, or go for the sensible option and pick Nathan Lyon to hold an end up with his off-spin. It would be typical for Australia to undermine their senior spinner by dropping him at the start of a series and would also create problems if they win without the leader of their victory team sing-song actually playing. As potential problems go, this is roughly on a par with 51allout not having any food in the fridge to make Kelly Brook breakfast the morning after an intense night of lovemaking. Moreover, Faulkner would be at least the third player in their XI to be selected on the strength of his performances in the ODI series in India.
Meanwhile, Mitchell Johnson has apparently found his happy-place (or at least has rediscovered his comfort blanket) and Peter Siddle has eaten the state out of bananas. With Australia just having 12 men in their squad, the rest of the team is already known, which is something Clarke might have overlooked when cunningly revealing the England line-up.
It’s Kevin Pietersen’s 100th Test, which is no longer the incredible milestone that it once was (although it is interesting to note his 100 games have taken less than nine years, whereas Shiv Chanderpaul has notched up the big 150 after 19). But it would be typically Pietersenesque for him to make a big contribution on a big occasion. The England top six is already established (see Michael Clarke for details), with the only matters to resolve being whether Matt Prior is fit enough – if not then Jonny Bairstow will play – and which big tall seam bowler to select.
To have fallen asleep in the lunch-break with England 22/0. To wake up to find Mark Butcher and Bob Willis on the television, the sun coming up and a note from a disappointed Ms Brook on the bedside-table.