Ashes Poetry - cricket

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David Fine, Ashes poet in residence in Australia 2006-7

England vs Australia.
Brisbane, Adelaide, Perth, Melbourne, Sydney 2006-2007

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Thursday, December 14, 2006

Perth Preview

Heard mixed reports about Perth. Some people say 'If you like Adelaide, you'll love Perth, it's so old.'

Others say 'Just like Brisbane, boom town, very American.'

You can see the open-cast mining scares and spoil-tips from the air as we come in to land.

Not sure what to expect. Perth is long way away from the Melbourne, Sydney, Adelaide triangle, the traditional urban heart of Australia. It's four hours plus from Sydney, which is further than Moscow from London.

There is a two hour time difference too. Being so isolated means it'll probably find its own way of doing things. Guaranteed to be warm, with the cooling westerly breeze from the sea known as the Freemantle Doctor, named after its port. I wonder how much it's changed since our blacksmith in Bakewell, Peter Evans, was there. Before I left we were talking about my trip - he likes poetry, even mine. I listed the test match cities. 'Been to all those places,' he said. 'Merchant navy, after the wall. Pubs were weird. They shut at six. I've never seen so much beer drunk so quickly in all my life.'

Today the Aussies don't seem to drink that much. In Adelaide and Brisbane there wasn't a binge culture of getting totally rat-arsed on a Friday and Saturday night, which seems to be the done thing with the young in Britain - every third person between 18 and 30 gets drunk every fortnight - perhaps because they're so pressured at work, drink is the only easy release. Maybe complusory one hour lunch-breaks would help to stop drinking wreck so many people's lives.

Aussie beer helps. Most of it has as much life and body as the Turin Shroud. It's probably the one thing we Brits beat those Aussies at hands down. The others?

Queues. We're very good at queuing, which Cricket Australia might note, since the sale of Test Match tickets was basically about ten million people all trying to dive off the virtual equivalent of Sydney Harbour Bridge into Sydney Harbour. Chaos, bedlam, misery and the odd splash of success. A ballot system, as per the ECB with their allocation, would have been so much simpler.

Castles and soccer. Although with both we've had something of a head start. Any others to add to the list - give us a shout.

Pies. Aussie pies, whatever the flavour, all taste the same. You realise why Rod Marsh called English fast-medium bowlers from the last two decades of the last century 'pie-chuckers.' Athough they each had different names, they all served up the same sort of dross.

Back to the cricket. What will the Third Test hold? On the face of it, England are in an all but impossible position. However teams have come back from losing the first two tests of an Ashes series, according to my brother Daniel - Australia in 1934. England probably need to win the toss or bowl like demons because indications are the pitch will be slow and good but take turn later on. Warne is six short of seven hundred victims, round about the same as the entire England attack put together. They certainly need some luck, tough talking, with someone like Terry Butcher in the Italia 90 dressing room forcing them on with talk of 'Fighting Tigers.'

It would be a good game to win, since it would bury the dreadful loss at Adelaide straight away.

Just don't queue up to bet your shirt, pies, beer or castle on it.

Professor Fiffle-Faffle predicts England will occupy the crease for longer than Australia, and are two-to-one on to score less runs.