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Aggers’ Ashes

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Язык: Английский
Год издания: 2018 год
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      Aggers’ Ashes
Jonathan Agnew

An inside account of England’s Ashes triumph in Australia 2010/11.England’s much celebrated Ashes win by two clear matches with three comprehensive innings victories must rank as one of the finest of any English cricket team from any era. It kept people at home glued to their televisions, computers and radios – often all three at the same time – long into the night as the bitter winter and a depressed economy were forced into the background by the sheer joy and exhilaration of giving the old enemy a trouncing.It had been twenty-two years since a touring side won three Tests in Australia and twenty-four since the Ashes were last won on Australian soil. The current England team bears worthy comparison with some of the legendary teams of the past, captained by greats like Brearley, Hutton and Jardine. Andrew Strauss with back-to-back Ashes wins can now sit amongst that illustrious company.From the first ball of the tour in Perth to a closing rendition of the infamous ‘Sprinkler Dance’ on the outfield in Sydney some two months later – a clip that received some 250,000 hits in just three days – one person was there throughout, BBC Cricket Correspondent Jonathan Agnew, better known to his legion of Test Match Special fans as ‘Aggers’.Following the success of his last book Thanks, Johnners, Agnew has written a highly personal diary of his experiences in Australia. Whether he is sharing late night conversations in the bar with England coach Andy Flower, exchanging banter with new TMS recruit Michael Vaughan or keeping cricket junkies around the world sated with his daily Twitter feed, Aggers brings his unique sense of theatre and excitement to every day’s proceedings.With additional contributions from the best BBC cricket bloggers and the resident TMS statistician, Aggers Ashes is the only companion you will need to relive those glorious days when history was made Down Under.

JONATHAN AGNEW

AGGERS’ ASHES

The Inside Story of England’s 2011 Ashes Triumph

This book is dedicated to England’s Ashes heroes past and present

Contents

Cover (#u6e7d3809-b884-5162-a0fe-c0d229f44055)

Title Page (#u0d0944e0-ce46-53cc-81cf-ae0638d9fc28)

Foreword by Jim Maxwell

Preface

Chapter One - The Phoney War

Chapter Two - Brisbane Test

Chapter Three - First Test Interlude

Images from the Series 1

Chapter Four - Adelaide Test

Chapter Five - Second Test Interlude

Chapter Six - Perth Test

Chapter Seven - Third Test Interlude

Images from the Series 2

Chapter Eight - Melbourne Test

Chapter Nine - Fourth Test Interlude

Chapter Ten - Sydney Test

Images from the Series 3

Chapter Eleven - Afterword

Chapter Twelve - The Records

Acknowledgements

About the Author

Also by Jonathan Agnew

Copyright

About the Publisher (#litres_trial_promo)

Foreword

by Jim Maxwell

Two performances stood out as England completed a comprehensive Ashes victory just before high noon on Friday, 7 January 2011 at the Sydney Cricket Ground.

Throughout the series the Barmy Army chorused every moment of play. They should have been given free entry because they were so entertaining, rapturously encouraging the dreaded Poms, and alternately mocking the Aussies. Mitchell Johnson was a favourite target.

Johnson found his mojo in Perth with some surprising swing bowling, but like his accomplices, Hilfenhaus and whoever passed as a spinner, the bowling was mediocre, chasing the game that Australia’s batsmen had lost.

While England celebrated with a traditional victory lap and acknowledgement of their supporters, the BBC correspondent Jonathan Agnew conducted the post-match interviews as he had done so thoroughly in 2005 and 2009 when England regained the Ashes at The Oval. Formalities completed Aggers broke off into a weird gyration, twisting like a Hills Hoist clothes line (for our English readers, a Hills Hoist is a height-adjustable rotary clothes line invented just after the War in Adelaide), or a giraffe on speed, he thus began a nervous performance of the Sprinkler Dance. Having watched England cop Down-Under hidings for twenty years and endured Australian co-commentator Kerry O’Keeffe’s jibes about the Poms going for silver and not for gold, Aggers cut loose.

Like the Barmy Army he had earned the right to celebrate, because Andrew Strauss’s team played better cricket than any England team in Australia for at least 56 if not 78 years.

Alastair Cook’s expedition was the most significant tour deforce by a Cook since Captain James’s visit in 1770, and his polishing skills made the Kookaburra laugh at Australia’s batsmen, helping Jimmy Anderson to swing through the top order.

Andrew Strauss’s composure and maturity formed a strong partnership alongside Andy Flower, whose hard-nosed managerial skills rivalled Sir Alex Ferguson’s at Old Trafford. When will Andrew and Andy get their gongs?

Cook’s remorselessly efficient batting was complemented by Jonathan Trott’s hungry accumulation. Aussies expected them to be nicking catches to slip or getting whacked on the pads in front. Instead, they settled in for a banquet.

In the TMS box ‘Sir’ Geoffrey Boycott was in full flight at Australia’s batting ineptitude, with just a hint of schadenfreude when wickets were tumbling. There was a moment when England were on top and, as you can on radio, I digressed to Australia’s rugby league connection with Yorkshire. I’m ready to continue that reminiscence in 2013 if Geoffrey appears to be gloating again!

Michael Vaughan showed his versatility by tweeting as frequently as Shane Warne, extolling England’s virtues; Vic Marks sagely scrutinised the contest and wondered where James Hildreth might fit in; while scorer Andrew Samson answered every ridiculous question from the ABC commentator as calmly and accurately as a quiz mastermind.

Shuttling between the TMS and the ABC commentary boxes, Aggers had been preparing, anticipating England’s historic moment. Happily for him that moment coincided with Christmas in Melbourne in the company of wife Emma and stepson Tom. I look forward to seeing them again in England when our friendship is rekindled and the Ashes are regained.

Preface

For an England cricket correspondent, an Ashes tour of Australia should be as good as it gets – the pinnacle of one’s career. It is a wonderful country with plenty to keep you occupied and, despite the traditional semi-serious Pom-bashing by the media, a genuinely warm welcome is guaranteed. Comfortable hotels and easy travel make it difficult to argue against this being the best job in the world. But, and it is a big but, for the past twenty years the cricket has been anything but competitive, inevitably robbing each of my last five tours of the continent of its key ingredient. I have witnessed England winning only 3 of the 25 Tests they played in Australia during that time, and losing, sometimes quite badly, 18 of them.

It has not always been easy reporting on those disastrous campaigns. My emotions would typically range from initial disbelief – how can England be this bad again? – through anger at the team’s continuing ineptitude to ultimate despair. It has been impossible for me to be entirely impartial as I am sure many TMS listeners will understand. Commentating on the local Australian Broadcasting Corporation [ABC] – something I have always loved doing, incidentally – had become embarrassing, as time and time again I would invariably have to sign off with an apology to the Australian listeners for the gulf between the two teams, a gulf that created such one-sided Test matches.

But buoyed by England winning the Ashes in 2009, and having watched Australia struggle against Pakistan the following summer, the Ashes tour of 2010/11 from the outset felt altogether different. Without players of Australia’s golden age of the 1990s like Shane Warne, Glenn McGrath and Adam Gilchrist, I was not alone in feeling genuinely optimistic about England’s prospects this time around. So much so, that when pressed for a prediction before the players left home, I put my neck on the block and forecast that England would return 3-1 winners. And so it proved.

Jonathan Agnew, February 2011

Chapter One

The Phoney War

“Cook is hanging on to his place by the skin of his teeth.”

RICKY PONTING

DAY 1: 3 November 2010

It is one of those ‘where am I?’ moments when I am awoken by bright Australian sun beaming through the curtains of a yet another unfamiliar bedroom. The digital display on the television tells me that it is six o’clock in the morning. How is it possible, having gone to bed at two o’clock after a sixteen-hour sleepless flight, that I have managed to kip for only four hours, and yet feel as fresh as a daisy? It won’t last of course.

It was dark when I arrived last night at Perth Airport, Western Australia and by the time I had found a taxi and reached the hotel, my brain was thoroughly befuddled. I know I started to unpack after checking in and had made sure my phone worked by speaking to Emma to report my safe arrival. I also checked that there was a decent Internet connection in the room, so vital for work (and listening to music) while on tour these days. The Internet has transformed the way in which we send interviews and reports back to London. Not so long ago a set of screwdrivers to dismantle telephone connectors was an absolutely essential piece of kit to be lugged around. Now it all transmits magically from the laptop straight to BBC Television Centre, while an iPhone and a Napster account means I no longer need to pack a selection of carefully chosen compact discs. The hotel’s price for the Internet connection strikes me as expensive though – £18 per day. In fact, by the end of the tour I will have clocked up over £2,000 in Internet charges!

Apart from being the first day of the hugely anticipated Ashes tour, it is also the first day of my new and sure-to-be rigorous training regime. I am determined to lose a stone by the time Emma arrives in Australia, and to try to live a more healthy on-tour lifestyle. That is not as easy as it sounds: the job means that as commentators and pundits most of the day we are sat down in front of the microphone, while long evenings away from home inevitably draw you to the bar to meet with colleagues who are equally lonely and at an end-of-play loose end. A few too many drinks are followed, usually far too late into the evening, by something to eat. Given that journalists by their very nature are an outspoken, opinionated bunch, these evenings can often be very argumentative. They also become a dangerously routine part of being on tour. So a sensible alcohol intake and daily exercise will be the way forward this time although, physically, I am going to pace myself. No doubt Emma will say I am going to be far too easy on myself, and because I take absolutely no pleasure in jogging whatsoever, she is probably right. But nonetheless I am determined to get fit.

Langley Park, Perth lies directly between my hotel and the Swan River and is ideal for my purpose. A stroll at a brisk pace around its rectangular form takes about 25 minutes. Apart from the swarms of infuriatingly persistent flies and a temperature already well on its way to the predicted 37 degrees Celsius, it is all very pleasant. Swatting the flies is surprisingly tiring. I walk one lap and then jog the long sides of the park to complete the second. Forty minutes in the beautifully clear and fresh air. That’ll do for a start.

On my return to the hotel I encounter a typically cheerful Graeme Swann in the lobby, while Irish-born Eoin Morgan, shy and quiet in public at least, gives me a nod as he emerges from the lift. Kevin Pietersen shouts “Hello Bud!” from the breakfast room. His form and general demeanour will be greatly scrutinised by the media over the coming fortnight.

The England team have already had a couple of days in the nets at the WACA. Today they have opted for a centre-wicket practice at Richardson Park, which is a ten-minute taxi ride from the hotel. My Bangladeshi driver is amazed when we arrive at the ground that absolutely nobody is watching. “If the England cricket team practised in the middle of Dhaka,” he exclaims, “thousands of people would be there.”
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