Australia head into the Perth Test 1-0 down in the series, a scoreline that flatters them somewhat, with an unlikely chance to level up this greatest of sporting stoushes. Stoushe stoushe stoushe.
Following the embarrassment of losing a Test in Adelaide, a place that was invented solely for the purpose of having a high-scoring draw in Test matches, the Aussie line-up has undergone a few necessary changes: Gone is Marcus North, who finally became shit enough to be dropped completely and forgotten about forever; Simon Katich was struck down by sideways-walkingitis (the most common affliction of crabs) and will have his Achilles’ heel reconstructed Robocop-style; some bloke that no one had ever heard of before (even his mum) called Michael Beer has come into the team simply because the Australian selectors wanted, nay, needed, someone who could provide journalists and copywriters with a clever play on words for their headlines. It has been too long since “England have been Warne-d” and “Casualties of Waugh” were seen gracing the back pages of our newspapers, and even though “Ponting is rubbish” is true, as a headline it just lacks a little magic. I look forward to “Poms feast on Beer” and “Beer gives Aussies hangover” during the game, followed by “Pub with no Beer” after he gets kicked out of a nightclub for exposing himself at a bonding session following another innings defeat. Anyway, Beer is the newest addition to the 10-man spin-bowling condom used by the Australian selectors to protect Steve Smith from being career-endingly fucked by the English batsmen.
Speaking of Smith, he has curiously been brought into the team for the Perth Test - not because of any amount of cricketing skill - but as a stand-up comedian. I would have thought that having someone who is able to bowl or bat might be more useful to a cricket team, but I guess that’s why I’m not a selector. Steve secured his position in the team by beating fellow comics Akhmal, who is still telling Lebanese jokes on Good News Week; and Russell Gilbert, who hasn’t told a joke in about 23 years.
Phil Hughes has earned himself a recall after a few years in the wilderness. Hughes is a bogan child who will one day probably be an arrogant fuck of an Australian captain - many have claimed that his weakness against bouncers and short-pitched bowling will be his downfall, but not much is written about the fact that Hughes stands roughly around the same height as a cricket stump, so anything that bounces on the pitch can therefore be deemed as “short-pitched” bowling.
Mitch Johnson is back in contention after “being rested” for the previous game, and is talking up his ability to bowl well on his home pitch. Mitch moved to Western Australia around three years ago and has played approximately two games there. If he was speaking about his actual home ground (the Gabba), then his smack-talking was even more out of line as he sent down 42 wicketless overs for 170 runs in the first Test.
Can this Aussie bunch reclaim a bit of pride and restore balance to the Ashes contest? Well… Clarke is useless, Ponting’s the same, Watson has a morbid fear of big scores, none of the bowlers learnt from Hilfenhaus’ first over in Adelaide (and every ball that Glenn McGrath has ever bowled) about where to land the ball, and the selectors seem to be overstocked with baggy green caps that they are desperate to get rid of... so my answer is "no."
Every kid who’s playing state, club, church or backyard cricket right now is in the running to play for Australia within the next month. It’s a great time to be a cricketer; pity it’s not a great time for Australian cricket.