I'll happily credit The 12th Man for my title today.
(If you've never heard him before, here's a link to one of his earliest recordings - high level of swearing warning :) )
If you haven't already guessed, today's post is about cricket.
Specifically it's about Ashes cricket, which - you may have read - England actually won.
As per tradition, I attended the Edgbaston test match (I grew up not a million miles from there and a group of us treat it as an annual re-union). This series it was scheduled as the 3rd test, and I'd been looking forward to it for ages (as I have fond memories of the Ashes test there in 2005 - aka The Greatest Ever Test). Sadly I was to be denied by the weather.
It had rained almost non-stop for 3 weeks prior to the game and the ground was saturated. Despite soaking up all the surface water by working all the previous night, the groundsmen were unable to get the outfield fit enough to play on the first day (the Thursday), despite it being bathed in bright sunshine since lunchtime. All we could do was eat sandwiches, catch up on life and sup the occasional pint of ale. Eventually play started at 5pm and they bowled almost exactly enough overs to deny anyone even a partial refund, then trooped off at 7pm.
We got lucky with the weather on the Friday and play started almost on time. I wasn't there though, because I got held up in traffic and arrived 5 minutes after play started. I'd already missed two Aussie wickets in the first two balls (something rather extraordinary). The day continued in much the same vein, with Jimmy Anderson cleaning up the middle order to dismiss the Aussies for a paltry score. England even then batted well to establish a good lead. It was all starting to come together!
At this point I'll add a couple of photos - the first is of the respective fans. The Barmy Army on the left booked a whole block as best they could and instructed everyone to bring both a red and white top in an attempt to have a St. George's flag effect going on. Seeing as most people were drifting off for an early lunch when I took this, it's not a bad effort. The big yellow blob are some of the Aussies (the deeply original 'FANatics'. Because they're FANS and they're fanatical. Yeah. Subtle Aussie humour rocks....)
The second is of one of the better attempts at winding up the aussies at the ground
There was so much rain on Friday night that I knew they'd never start on time on Saturday, so I meandered up from Bristol by lunchtime to chat to some of the people who were only making that day. Oops. This was the field by the time they abandoned play for the day at 3pm (and yes, those are rather deep puddles forming.)
I hung around for a bit until we'd eaten all the sandwiches and then I was going to spend the night in Coventry seeing a very old friend before returning for the Sunday. I never made it back the next day, but that's for another post :)
My car was parked a couple of miles away and it was *heaving* it down. My umbrella lasted about 200 yards before turning inside out and breaking. I don't think I've ever been as soaked as I was by the time I reached my car - but I couldn't resist stopping for this picture of the West Midlands Police Training Centre.
Seriously - 'Tally Ho!'????? Which eeijit thought *that* was a good idea for a motto?