Good news, everybody: there are only four more sleeps until we get to humiliate the Poms on a cricket field again.
The first one-day international is set for Friday as a day-nighter at the MCG and already the Australians have shaken off their post-Ashes hangovers and started to send steely glares in the direction of reinstated captain Michael Vaughan, a 32-year-old who looks too much like a white collar middle manager to possibly cope with such hostility.
Australian coach John Buchanan was his usual sporting self, telling reporters: “We try to exploit any deficiency, whether it’s technical, physical, mental or tactical. If we understand that Michael’s struggling physically, then that will be one area we will target.”
He didn’t elaborate as to whether that meant a baseball bat to the knee outside the stadium.
The truly frightening thing is that the English one-day team is generally agreed to be nowhere near as accomplished or talented as its Test team, with a woeful record over the past 12 months or so. The side has won five of its past 20 matches, and not against many teams of consequence. In the one-day rankings, England is ahead of only Zimbabwe and Bangladesh. The last ten one-dayers against Australia in Australia? Yep, ten-zip to the Aussies.
Even the Barmy Army hasn’t bothered to hang around for the one-day carnival, according to spokesbarmy Nicky Bowes.
Vaughan seemed relaxed and smiled a lot as he faced the media to announce that he would be relieving haunted Freddie Flintoff of the captaincy. He seemed unconcerned that the Australians might be preparing to obliterate him, his wonky knee and his team all over again.
But he also seemed resigned to captaining a beaten team. “I do expect there will be a few mental frailties because of what’s happened,” he said. Spearhead bowler Steve Harmison, who suffers badly from homesickness, is on the record as saying he can’t wait to leave Australia.
It would seem to us that Vaughan’s heroic way forward would be to forget “mild mannered” for a while. Shake up his own players and the Australians. Tell the media that if it had been a 12 Test series, England would have bloody won it. And that having given the retiring Aussie legends such a pleasant send-off, he fully expected the same in return when Ashley Giles potentially retires at the end of the 2009 Ashes, with a 5-0 scoreline to ride into the sunset. Or even that the nametags got muddled early in the tour, and everybody thought Geraint Jones WAS Chris Read for the first three Tests.
He’s going to have to come up with something or it’s going to be a fizzer of a one-day season.