England implode at the Gabba

England implode at the Gabba
East Brisbane, Australia

East Brisbane, Australia

What a day. I was excited to visit the Gabba, and I enjoyed my day, but what a shocker for England. After starting brightly, their run-rate slowed to a crawl, then they lost a clutch of wickets and ended up all out for 136, conceding a hefty first innings lead and probably the test. To think that at the start of the day my Aussie neighbours had been hoping for rain to save them – if they’ve called any into being, it can only help England now.

Shot from up high, over the oval playing area at The Gabba
Ready and happy to play.

The ground, as everyone says, is fabulous. They really use their stadiums here, with Aussie rules football played here much of the year, gigs and so on. As a result of the former game, it’s a huge ground, circular, with big boundaries-even Warner didn’t hit the boundary as often as he might like, plenty of 3s in his score. It’s easy to get in and out, too, bag checks are quick and the staff smile and chat as they let people in.

The afternoon session had quite an atmosphere, which is some consolation – there is something about being in a stadium when the home team is doing well, and they’re not your team. It can take some time to adjust to, but it is enjoyable, if in a masochistic sense. Or was I just trying to salvage something, emotionally, from the day?

Shot from up high, the playing field at The Gabba
In play, before the chaos.

My neighbours were fabulous. On the right, anyway. To the left, people came and went as time went by. To my right were Brian and Len, both Australian now. Brian was in fact born in England, and lived there till 29, then moved to Australia to work as an engineer on a mining contract. In Ireland he met an Aussie, married her, and took her home to England, only to find he couldn’t stand the place any more. So he has been in England since 1972, before I was born. But what a life – he mentioned playing football, travelling with it and pre-season training before I realised that betokened a serious career. Crystal Palace, albeit in Div 4 South and 3. Four rules on his contract – no smoking, no excessive drinking (with, I suspect, a generous interpretation of ‘excessive’), no riding a motorbike and no sex after Wednesday. Their star player was always late on a home match day, before playing fantastically, but was terrible (“a real fizzer”) away from home. Truth was, he was late because he was breaking that last rule. When management found out, they arranged for his wife to join them on trips, and they’d stop at a motel en route!

To top it off, Brian has been at the last few Olympics, part of his daughter’s entourage. She’s a five-time Olympian, at beach volleyball (personal medal table 1-0-1, better than some countries).

I enjoyed my day. Tomorrow may be purgatory. Returning to the house was, as Eddie the Australian couldn’t hold back. At least I’ve met a proper Aussie braggart, and seen him with something to crow about; I was glad when he finally stopped talking (if not about the cricket, then how much greater Melbourne is than Brisbane. His technique is to say something then tell you again, more firmly, even if you agreed the first time. From the Boycott school of picking fights in empty rooms. It’s a little annoying).

Other things I have enjoyed:

Realising how I’d misheard Taiwanese Jimmy when he offered me ‘a hammer’ (?) to go with a bike, when I passed his room and saw his *helmet* on the table.

Finding that Australian conversation is much like British. Running mates talked first about the weather, and then whether Christmas selling and ads had started early.

A lazy Thursday in front of the TV for the cricket, followed by a tough tempo run along the river.

Running with the Intraining group, who do speed sessions on Tuesday and Thursday. Sadly for my form, I was the quickest, but I picked up a lift home and met some fellow parkrunners. Event directors, in fact, and that’s my lift to the inaugural Minippi parkrun organised.

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