Shane Palmer, a member of the Guest Services team here at Emirates Old Trafford, was born and raised in Melbourne, Australia. He came to Manchester this summer and is loving life in the UK. However, after watching his beloved Australia struggle in England during the recent Investec Ashes series, will he still be smiling after the series Down Under?
Shane will be writing a blog during the course of the current Ashes series on what it’s like to be an Aussie In Lancashire.
So, after assessing the first two days' cricket, here’s his first installment…
"Broad-ban" - "Stuart Fraud" - "Smug Pommie Cheat!" Fleet Street eat your heart out: the Aussie tabloids are masters of ruffling foreign feathers and mentally unhinging opposing sportsmen.
Or so they thought.
The Australian papers reeled out the most whimsical of puns on the opening morning of the Ashes, but sadly the words “last” and “laugh” came to mind; as Stuart Broad systematically destroyed the Aussie top order on the first day of the Brisbane Test.
Australia coach Darren Lehmann’s will be now hoping more than ever that Broad will want to “cry and go home” from all the heckling, after taking 5 for 65 in the opening sessions of the series.
Broad himself wasn’t too bothered and smugly grinned at the press after the end of play, clutching a copy of the Brisbane Courier Mail, which bore his angry-looking face and the title: “Smug Pommie cheat!”
“I braced myself to expect it, and I think I coped well - I was singing along at one stage,” he said.
“In our medical assessments, our psychologists said three players would thrive on abuse: me, Matt Prior and Kevin Pietersen.”
So naturally everyone here at Emirates Old Trafford is pretty pleased with the first day of play – except yours truly; an Aussie in the mix!
Lost deep in enemy territory, commonly queried “why are you here?” – “Came for the good weather” – and heavily outnumbered, I was planning to spend the entire winter gloating about Australia’s cricketing-superiority to the locals.
We looked sorted before the series began, all set to regain the urn on home soil, and end the over-run folly of English dominance – we just felt bad for you all, and thought you needed a few turns of holding the little brown statue, in respect to good manners, fairness and all.
The villainous Stuart Broad looked to have spoiled the start of the summer down under, until the Barmy Army’s beloved Mitchell Johnson and Brad Haddin mounted a strong rear-guard stand to steady the sinking ship – which was 6-132 at one point.
The two racked up a partnership of 114 – a record 7th wicket Australian Ashes record for the Gabba.
It all seemed to be going so well for the English – until they had to bat. Never content to be upstaged, the tourists decided to show the Australians what a proper batting collapse looks like, in the form of losing six wickets for just nine runs - in 10 overs.
A blistering display of pace bowling tore through England’s innings. Johnson claimed four scalps and cracked Broad’s helmet while Ryan Harris – finally fit for once – took another three, and looked at his destructive best.
Johnson was everything England had hoped he wouldn’t be. Fast, aggressive and rocking the kind of moustache that the likes of Steve Smith and Joe Root would dream of (upon reaching adulthood)!
And now the balance of the Test seems restored – thankfully. After a day of taking stick from all-comers from staff to deliverymen, the folks around Emirates Old Trafford have gone strangely quiet about cricket after day two.
Brisbane – or Bris-Vegas – will be buzzing over the next week, undoubtedly full of marauding English, enjoying the beautiful weather, booze and locals in the sunshine-state.
A fun and relaxed town, Bris-Vegas is the perfect place to start an Ashes tour. Yet some of the locals are slightly-odd, such as the man who smuggled a pig into the ground, disguised as a baby.
It is rumoured that he will be running for local council in the near future.
So the lesson from the day one and two? Some you heckle, some you don’t. Steve Waugh was famous for talking to himself at the crease, to motivate himself when given the silent-treatment from the opposition. Both Broad and Johnson copped a load of stick, yet were the top performers for each side. Coincidence?
Cricket’s a funny game. While the first day certainly belonged to England, they let the Aussies off the hook. Conceding a first innings of 295 is usually acceptable – but not when you score just 136 in reply. Australia dug in well in the evening session, and now holds a 224-run lead, with ten wickets in the bank. The Test might just have swung into the hosts’ favour; and England’s perfect start has disappeared in just a day.
So for now: game on!