Welcome to Australia, Welcome to Sleep Deprivation

The start of Ashes series can be captivating, exciting and emotional. This can lead to a strange type of nostalgic reflectiveness.

As I climbed into bed this morning, three overs in, Strauss already gone and CMJ broadcasting to the world, I found myself thinking about the fact that I'd been doing this sort of thing since before anyone from either side was born. When England pitched up at Brisbane to be sacrificed to Dennis Lillee and Jeff Thomson in November 1974, satellite television hadn't been invented and radios were still sometimes called transistors. I loved it. Still do.

Conclusion: I started bloody young, I'm getting older, and it's a good job I wasn't playing. There are many reasons for this - not least the fact that I'm not a very good cricketer - but also the awareness that too much emotion can affect the way you play.

It's hard to say whether this was a factor in what was, for England, a poor day, but if anyone had become even slightly carried away with the favourable predictions and lavish publicity, today's events will have brought them sharply back to earth.

Australian sides come, and Australian sides go, but they always, always, compete very hard. Today Peter Siddle was the embodiment of this attitude - fast, direct, immune to pressure and frequently successful. No matter what you have going for you (and England are currently very fortunate to have Ian Bell), going to Australia and winning Test matches is never easy.

Judgement is suspended until both sides have batted once, but, with one day gone, Australia hold the aces.


Dean @ Cricket Betting Blog said...

Hi Brian,

It was far from a great start. I too didn't get carried away with all the hype.

To listen to some people - including plenty of ex players who should know better - you would have thought England only had to turn up to win.

That was never going to be the case.

In reading your line about Lillee and Thomson in 1974, I couldn't help but think you have put up with a lot of disappointment over the years.

My first memory is Getting's team in 86 - and thats a long time ago.

Brian Carpenter said...

Thanks, Dean. I should say that I was only eight in 1974 so am not that old yet - I just started young!

Plenty of disappointment but then for most of the period between 1989and 2005 you just couldn't imagine England winning an Ashes series anywhere, let alone Australia.

I'm glad times have changed.

Dean @ Cricket Betting Blog said...

Thats true Brian,

But I do think though that the side, up until the mid 90's wasn't as good as the Warne - McGrath era was, think it was more down to England been a very poor outfit at the time.

But from 1993-4 onwards, I don't think that it mattered as the Australia side was just too good for anyone.

I suppose my point it that a lot of ex-England players hide behind the excuse that Australia were just too good, but I don't believe that was always totally the case.

Brian Carpenter said...

You're right, Dean. I was reflecting on the 1990-91 series this morning when Gower and Atherton were talking about it and when you look at the scorecards you realize that Australia weren't that special then.

The gap between Australia and the rest really started to widen when Warne and McGrath came along and the West Indies' decline started, as exemplified when Australia beat them in the Caribbean in 1995.

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