My spirits have been lifted, and hopefully those of the rest of the country, by the results of the ODI series. Recently, we have had a terrible one-day team. The team, in fact, has barely changed. However, nobody had seemingly noticed beforehand, that England's one day team was even worse. No incompetence on our own part seems to give them a start.
Who could have seen what was to come? We won the first game by 7 runs - which not to put too fine a point on it, was bugger all. The bowling was only just up to scratch and there was some shakey batting mostly from Michael Clarke (which he admitted) and some terrible running from Tim Paine who began the series as a ring-in with a duck from an over of deliveries - more time was spent talking about the problems in Australia's game rather than the weak display from England, and the consensus was very much that this series was a pitched and open contest between the two ginger-headed stepchildren teams that were off-shoots of the world's greatest Test nations. (If you ignore the darkies, of course old boy) Some of the English viewers were even optimistic that they could take this piece of silverware as well.
Those poor suckers.
The next game was a 39-run victory, and all the better because for the first of three times in the series, we left the English even unable to bat out their 50 overs. After that - a terrific 6 wicket victory featuring a century for Cameron White. THEN a crushing seven wicket win off the back of a hearty five-for from Brett Lee to seal the series. Follow that up with another century innings and another breezy win and suddenly people are talking about England getting the worst ODI series defeat in the game's somewhat-proud Packer-tainted history.
When I was watching the cricket through worn and bleary eyes on late, late Thursday night/morning I saw ten overs of batting under siege from such luminaries as Sidebottom, Anderson and Masceranhas leave us with two wickets down for just over 40 runs. As far as I could see, that was it. The script ran thusly - Paine, out for 30 from 85, Hussey out for 8 from 27, White and Ferguson both Retired Hurt after exploding in gratuitous showers of gore from the ridiculous pressure on them to save every frigging game of the series.
Luckily, I'm not the guy who writes the script in cricket - it's probably the dude who does the WWF - and instead Paine made his maiden international century with bucketloads of class, Hussey made his first half century in this millenium and White and Hopes combined with such force they insisted that the rest of the team refer to them in the dressing rooms as Super Sloggio Bros. before buying matching scarlet and bright green jumpsuits.
297 runs. Alright, that's good stuff as a peroxide-blond intellectual luminary and occassional AFL footballer in pink shirts once said - but still, did the Poms have The Eye of The Tiger?
No, they did not. They had such a deficit of big cat ocular organs, in fact, that they crashed and shuddered their sorry arses to the third-heaviest home defeat in their history, 111 runs short. Who the hell would have thought at the start of the evening that England would face such a milestone, and that David Gower and Ian Botham would leave the commentary box to comb Manchester's streets for a suicide booth they could get a two-for-one deal in?
This is so good, you could mistake it for being a consolation for losing the Ashes to these peanuts, but of course it is small potatoes in comparison. Even so, the sweetness of an England defeat is an incredible thing for an Australian fan, and at the moment I'm on a steady flow of English collapses.
The aboslute, no-doubt-about-it, best thing about this? The Champion's Trophy begins pretty much within the week. And the Poms aren't allowed to change their squad at all. They know now they have a dud team - and are stuck with them. They're taking a water-pistol to a machine gun fight, and I for one am hoping that they finish absolute last.