Australia Advance, Naturally


I’ve never understood why the Aussie national anthem is called ‘Advance Australia Fair’. From where I’m sitting, there’s absolutely nothing fair about Australia and Australians at all.

They get to bask in beautiful heat most of the year (all year in many cities), there’s sod all rainfall and the landscape is diverse and jaw-droppingly beautiful.

From the great barrier reef and dense rainforest of Queensland, to the rugged beauty of Uluru and Kakadu National Park in Northern Territory, it’s a gorgeous country.

And if you like beaches you’re in luck too: whether it’s the golden sands of Fraser Island (where you can polish jewellery in the purest sands imaginable) or the stunning scenery along Victoria’s Great Ocean Road, it’s pure heaven.

And of course, their bloody cricket team isn’t bad either. Bastards.

I’m not going to dwell too much on the specifics of today’s World Cup semi final. I thought an Australia win today was more or less a foregone conclusion: the Aussies have a fearsome fast bowling attack, and the Indian batsmen don’t really fancy the short stuff.

What’s particularly depressing is the particular Australian players that keep doing well. Steve Smith used to be a weakness – his presence in the side seemed to represent the end of Australia’s golden era (surely they had someone better than this lost looking kid?) – but now he’s a bastion of strength.

Meanwhile, we used to laugh at Mitchell Starc; he was a poor man’s Mitchell Johnson. Not any more. He’s Mitch Mach Two (and almost an improvement).

And then there’s Josh Hazlewood. He looked pretty innocuous a year ago – a medium fast Aussie version of Derek Pringle. Now he’s bowling like the next Glenn McGrath.

It must be nice to support a side where players actually improve rather than get noticeably worse as the months roll by.

Please New Zealand. Please beat this horrible lot. There’s only so much us Poms can take.

Yours Sincerely,

A Bitter, Desperate England Supporter.

James Morgan



  • We all had a good laugh at the Aussies expense over “homework gate” a couple of years ago. Ho ho ho we all thought. The great players of the Warne/Ponting era had come to an end. There was even talk that the Aussie youth was no longer in love with cricket.

    By contrast our team was top of the world. (Well 2nd to South Africa.) When they announced back to back ashes, the cry went up “10-0 to England” A weeks a long time in politics, six months is a very long time in cricket. I always have an uneasy feeling that you should never write off the Aussie system. How ever much criticism it may get from time to time it does seem to produce talent, and then improve it.

    Climate? The out door lifestyle? The huge open spaces that allows so much more land to be given over to sport. The less rigid class based society. Better coaching at younger ages? Who knows? Maybe a bit of each. Never mind, the Ashes is coming up in a few months time and as we have been told all through last year, we are much better at Test cricket than ODIs. What could possibly go wrong?

  • Hey James,
    That was a good read as usual. In all my time watching aussie cricket( I am 40) I believe this is our best set of paceman in terms of depth. Fear for you blokes come the ashes. Have been at every oval test for two days since 2005. Have loved it but has been a bit of a mare. Fully understand neutrals going for kiwis as the baggy greens (well some them) are not the most gracious lot. On a different note,I knew I saw something in young smith back in the last English ashes. Grit I think is the word. He seems like a good bloke and will be a good representative of Australia when he becomes captain.

    • I think the Ian-Healey-esque phrase you were looking for is “Top bowling, Warnie…”

  • Hazlewood reminds me of Shaun Pollock. Starc was again the fastest bowler today clocking in 151 kph. (Johnson was at 147 kph – below Yadav).

    The idea that Johnson and Harris are the keys to the Ashes is starting to look a bit old hat. If Starc can bowl with a red ball anything like he’s been bowling with a white ball it’s going to be carnage.

    Also, Steve Smith seems to have become a No.3 in ODIs. This has been a problem position for Australia in Tests so it’ll be interesting if he stays there

  • I think anyone that paid attention when Australia were at a low ebb 2/3 years ago knew they had a potentially fantastic group of young talented quicks waiting in the wings.

    They are going to cause England much grief for years to come, I wouldn’t be at all surprised if we never see that urn in again for 10+ years.

    • The saving grace is that they don’t have a spin bowler, still, anywhere near the class of Warne. As good as the pace attack is, England tend not to freeze in the way that they do against high-quality spin, the previous Ashes aside. Pattinson, Hazelwood, Starc and Cummins are obviously highly impressive, but their red ball stats are still in their early days and have largely bowled on decks friendly towards fast bowling in their test careers thus far. If English wickets are in a similar state to what they were in 2013 – and the drainage systems won’t have changed that much – I don’t think Australia can quite expect a cake walk.

      Then again, given that we still have Cook, Downton, Flower and now Gibson (so underwhelming in his last stint in the job) presiding over matters, they could probably field a third string bowling attack and destroy us.

      • Lyon is enough to do us over on a spin friendly deck, This England team made Bruce Martin and Kane Willamson look like test class spinners.

        I’m confident our batsmen will be only too willing to oblige Lyon and make him look like an ATG spinner.

        • And how many spin-friendly decks will he get this summer? We’re yet to see how the wickets will play, but I’d wager they won’t turn as much as in Dubai and Abu Dhabi, where he was absolutely destroyed by the Pakistan batsmen.

          Lyon is a decent bowler, but he’s not a Shane Warne. I generally think that England will deal with pace on home conditions, eventually at least. We never ever seemed to get the hang of the great spinners of recent years.

          • Lyon does the job well enough. He keeps it tight when the ball loses its shine and zip, picks up the odd wicket (mostly good batsmen too) and keeps the pressure on when the fasties are waiting for the new ball. Swan did something similar for England, and the English attack really does miss him sorely. Actually the NZ is a bit weak in the tail, lack as it does a decent spinner, and it will be interesting to see if England can take advantage of that this year.

    • It was the batting that was really weak then. Now they have Rodgers, Warner and Smith which makes a big difference.

  • Nah, Aus batsmen still have to bat over here. I’m yet to be convinced by them in bowling friendly conditions.

    • Nah what? they won’t retain the Ashes?

      Bowling wise Swann was the key to our last home win and we have nothing anywhere near as good as him.

      Anderson and Broad won’t be able to do it all, they had 1 very good test each in the 2013 series and were dealt with quite comfortably in the other 4 tests, I guess we’ll have to hope for a 2009 type win where we won the crucial big moments (whilst getting outplayed for the most part) along with the odd miracle (Cardiff).

      With their excellent quicks, decent enough spinner and batting right down to number 11 we are in a word… Fucked.

      • “Bowling wise Swann was the key to our last home win and we have nothing anywhere near as good as him.”

        No he wasn’t. He was great in the second test, but pretty average a lot of the time other than that. By his own admission, he was struggling. Bell was the key.

        And we didn’t get outplayed for the most part in 2009 either. We won one test pretty convincingly (by 115 runs, hardly close), the other by an even more impressive 197 runs, we had the best of the drawn game at Edgbaston until a draw became the only likely result. That’s three tests out of five that we generally controlled. Yes, Australia were heavily on top in the other two, but I’ve never seen a five-test series largely unaffected by weather in which the best team hasn’t won. The 2009 series was no different.

        Why are England fans so keen to do Australia’s talking up for them so often? Under Lehmann they have yet to win a test away (Seven played, five lost, none won). Yes, it’s early days, yes it’s likely that their young quicks will pose problems, yes, England under the current regime are a shower. But this is not the Australia of the 1990s. Key elements of it are ageing, too. They’ll be favourites, but we’re not lambs to the slaughter.

        • “No he wasn’t. He was great in the second test, but pretty average a lot of the time other than that. By his own admission, he was struggling. Bell was the key”

          No he wasn’t? Ignorance is bliss!

          Swann was our most important bowler and absolutely key for us that series, like he usually was, not sure what Bell has to do with the bowling.

          “Why are England fans so keen to do Australia’s talking up for them so often?”

          It’s called being a realist, you bury your head sand if you like, Australia’s test series on the Sub Continent and in the UAE mean nothing when it comes to the Ashes, I presume was your head was in the sand when the Aussies won the test series in SA a year ago?

          They are a much better outfit than the last time they were here and we are a complete joke of an outfit, 3-0 was harsh on them too, this Ashes series is lost already because of whats happened off the pitch, they will have us for breakfast, it won’t be close, they might give us the token dead rubber test match like they used to do back in the day, 3-1 to them or 4-1 if the weather holds off.

          • You mentioned Nathan Lyon bowling on a ripper. I simply pointed out that on spin-friendly surfaces recently he had been smashed around the park. Lyon is a good bowler, but not someone to lose sleep over facing.

            With Swann, by his own admission he was not bowling as well as he’d hoped in 2013. His elbow was troubling him. He was largely out bowled by Ashton Agar in the first test, did very well in the second (but took some cheap wickets) and then was fairly good thereafter. Broad and Anderson were as important, with Bresnan’s contribution later on, as usual, under-rated.

            You see this summer as a foregone conclusion. I don’t. I think it’s more likely that Australia will win, but there are still plenty of questions over their team. They are not, I repeat, the Australia of the 1990s, but the way you talk you’d think they were. I agree that we’re a shambles off the pitch. If I could, I’d get rid of Moores, Downton, Flower, Cook (as captain) and Clarke tomorrow. But we have players who’ve done it against Australia before and who you shouldn’t write off from doing it again.

            • Surely there are far more questions over the England team. Which players in the squad to tour the Windies do you think would get a game for Australia? I can’t think of many.

            • OC,
              I agree. I find this Ashes series fiendishly difficult to pick, but there are definitely some grounds for hope. One is home field advantage. For whatever reason, just being at home seems to be worth a test or two nowadays. Test series have been overwhelmingly won by the home sides in the last few years – usually by conclusive margins.
              Second is the Aussie Achilles heel to swing bowling. Southee and Boult proved that that batting line up still can’t play good swing bowling. A shot a ball and hard hands is still a recipe to knock them over cheaply at least a couple of times. The batting is still vulnerable. Shane Watson’s front pad is still going to be appearing in Jimmy’s dreams – and if Moeen bowls as well as he did last year, there’s every reason to think we may not miss Swanny as much as we thought we might.
              Of course, the flip side is equally grim. Australia’s enviable quick bowling depth picks off Cook and his opening partner regularly. We can’t get Smith out and Rogers uses every ounce of experience to keep giving them solid starts.
              I can honestly see every scenario from a narrow win to a 4-0 defeat. I’m leaning towards a hard fought 2-2 at the moment but ask me next week and I’ll have a different opinion!

              • Understood. And I’d be hoping that too if I was Australian. But I’ll be hugely surprised if he doesn’t.

            • wow, you are the eternal optimist and maybe a ECB spokesman?

              this england outfit are god dam aweful, it’s management is poor, it’s coaching is poor and aus, while not the aus of old will still be way to strong for Broad, Cook and co. Off field stuff and simply being injured/over rated has seen England decline very very quickly.

              aus to win the ashes at a canter, maybe giving eng a dead rubber so that the mangement can make out it was close.

              • No I don’t think they will even give them a dead rubber.

                I’ll go out on a limb and say that for all concluded tests short of large rain interruptions, Australia to win.

                I don’t mind optimism except when it creeps into the realms of fantasy it becomes dificult to support.


        • Sorry mate,but what do you have that we can possibly fear? Anderson? Broad? Been there,seen that! Have you noticed what’s coming your way?need to start thinking ahead as in next ashes in Aus

          • JImmy Anderson usually looks interested if the conditions suit him and there is no reason to think they won’t for at least 2 of the tests. He usually gets it swinging early when he is in England.

            Australia has not won an Ashes in England since 2001 or something like that. It’s not going to be a cakewalk.

            • eternal optimist I see.

              2005 was simply 2 world class teams (although aus would have won if fate hadn’t knackered mcgraths ankle!) going at each other and England had the best team it’s had for many a year.

              2009 – aus were very poor with some particularly poor players getting a gig in the baggy green. Nothing to be cheered about beating that bunch, same with 2010/11.

              I’m English and am not going to act like a football fan that just simply blindly follows the club and fails to see the reality.

              Cook – finish and over rated
              Anderson – past it
              Broad – god aweful
              Buttler – slogger
              Ali – can’t play the short ball which he’ll get a lot in tests

              that’s pretty much the back bone of the England side gone..

        • “Key elements of it are ageing”.

          True, and it’s a matter of frustration for most of us that they won’t move over and let the younger, even better players through.
          This summer you’re screwed.

  • These young quicks can bat too, Starc will get test tons, Pattinson averages 30, I’d bet Cummins and Hazlewood will gradually improve too.

    Add them onto Johnson, Harris and Siddle who are all capable.

    • Have you hung out with any Aussies?

      Would you like to share your painful stories of the abuse you suffered. This is a supportive forum and we will give you succour and try to ease your pain. :)

    • “you have to hang out with Aussies”

      And that’s just going to lower your self esteem even further.

    • As much as I liked Strauss the cricketer, screw him and his one eyed view on this.

      Graves has clearly given a big opportunity to KP, if he starts whacking centuries for Surrey he simply can’t be ignored, the pressure will be immense to get him back in the team.

      • I couldn’t agree more. I am sick of listening to him. Bores me to death! Graves is his own man it seems. Time will tell if he has enough bottle to do what is really necessary. By Summer we might know. If not, it’s all downhill from here on!

      • Oh cheers Aussie. Now just in case you hadn’t realised that picture was taken on the Barrier Reef. Funny thing, my feet were sinking in the sand hill at the time! Three amazing trips to Aussieland, seeing family and friends and last one was magic because I went with my husband and he just loved the place and all my family and they all loved him. Holiday of a lifetime.

    • He’s hardly putting the boot in Annie – he actually said that Pietersen’s doing everything right, and has grasped the olive branch offered. I would question the validity of the olive branch – is it a publicity stunt or a genuine offer?

      What he does do is bring up some very valid points – who do you drop from the test side that finished last year? Besides the openers, Ballance and Root were fantastic, Moeen and Buttler showed great potential and with their bowling and wicket keeping add further dimensions, which leaves Bell as the senior player, who has a lot of credit in the bank over recent years, not least the 2013 Ashes which England would have lost without him. If Bell doesn’t score runs this summer, do you go back to KP, or introduce someone younger?

      I would now be tempted to stick KP in the one day side, possibly even bring him back as captain for two years through to the next champions trophy and make a decision from there about the next WC, depending on his form and fitness. England’s one day cricket is at such a low ebb, I actually don’t think he can do any worse.

      It’ll definitely be interesting to watch though….

  • Weren’t the Australian camp supposed to be at loggerheads? The captain had fallen out with everyone – the coach, the selectors, his teammates. The players liked Steve Smith more as captain. It was all so terribly unfair on poor George Bailey.

    Strangely, you don’t hear much about this sort of thing when a team is winning and has just reached a World Cup Final.

    • Yes and the New Zealanders also. Management mess ups which the players had to thrash out and work out and get on with and look at them? There is something isn’t there in talking about it and shouting and yelling and getting it all out of your system and just getting on with playing the game. England Cricket needs to stop acting like a bunch of overgrown school boys and do what is best for success. Sick to the back teeth listening to whinging Cook throwing his toys out of his pram because he can’t get his own way. He needs to get his batting sorted out and play the game. Sorry to rant but I am really sick of the lot of them. If we want success then England need to pick the best players whether they like each other or not. What England needs is a damn good manager who can manage the players. A decent lot of international coaches. I remember what happened after Alan Donald was brought in. If England want success then they have to pay for it. The ECB needs to be changed beyond recognition. Get rid of the current crowd who want to take cricket back to the 1900s. They are all Busted flushes (apologies to Fusted Blush!) Build for the future. If these damn Prima Donnas don’t like it then they know what to do. Why the hell are we putting up with this crap?

      Of course they could do what Darren Gough did to Swanny “the mouth” – take him round the back of the bike shed and sort it out? Such a bloody load of wimps we have. Rant over. I’ve had bloody awful day. I feel so much better now.

      On an entirely different matter. Not sure how many of you have caught up with this little diamond. We have IMO a very talented poet in our midst. Oh yes. I’ve been reading his stuff on his blog. I do commend the Bogfather to you all (I’ve been calling him Dad!) Tis good stuff.

  • “I’ve never understood why the Aussie national anthem is called ‘Advance Australia Fair’.”

    It was written by a Scotsman, so blame your chief whisky-suppliers up north.

    As far as Australian cricket goes – it looks pretty good right now. The Ashes series is looking particularly favourable considering the apparent disarray in the English side.

    Then again, England flew to Australia for the 2013/14 Ashes series absolutely confident in a strong team (fresh off a series victory) vs a “Homeworkgate” Australian side. And just look at how that turned out.

    I’m going to wait to see how England does in the West Indies before I start trying to predict how the Ashes will go. If nothing else it will tell us something about team morale.

    • For my taste, the Aust test team is still a batter short. But they aren’t carrying any liabilities, of which England have at least two — Cook and Broad. (Off the field it’s rather more.) The biggest threat to Aust’s Ashes campaign is WI and NZ — they might force some changes.

  • I put my bet on – a bar of chocolate for my old man – for New Zealand to win this tournament and I’m still hoping they will win. Whoever does win, it will be a damn good match. Well here’s hoping it is going to be good.

  • “our grounds are bigger than postage stamps”.

    This constantly repeated theme about NZ can’t win at the MCG because the ground is too big (with crowd hostility sometimes thrown in) is driving me round the bend.

    NZ have W2 L2 in ODIs against Australia at the MCG since 2000. They won the last one in 2009 (check those SRs!):

    Six of the current NZ team played then and Ronchi has played there plenty of times so omly Williamson, Boult, Anderson and Henry are new to the ground. If the longer boundaries disadvantage NZ’s batsmen (highly dubious – only one of Guptill’s sixes in the QF wouldn’t have been six at the MCG apparently) they will also benefit NZ’s bowlers. Boult has bowled 14 maidens, twice as many as any other bowler, on these “postage stamp grounds”. The larger outfields will also put a greater onus on fielding and NZ are the outstanding fielding team (Australia’s top fielders are every bit as good but they have more weaker fielders I’d argue).

    Australia could well win as they are a very strong team but there is little between them and this tone of “little plucky NZs are about to be found out now they are going to play with the big boys” is extremely grating.

    Of course the real scandal here is how little Australia have played NZ in recent years. Even in the forthcoming year CA have given the Boxing Day Test to WI and are using NZ as guinea pigs for the first D/N Test earlier in the season.

    • I agree and empathise very much with this post NZ are deadly dangerous and a fantastic team. I doubt that you will find many Australians subscribing to the small ground/big ground trope.

      Australia are favourites because of home ground advantage only. TGhis game could easily go to NZ.

      Frankly I’ll be happy whoever wins as I have a great deal of affection for New Zealand and the people. I would actually like my kids to grow up there and there is a good chance they will.

      WIth appropriate coaching in the fact that Australia is the cricket team they should support of course.

    • Don’t like “plucky little New Zealanders”?

      Would you settle for “jumped up sheep shaggers from a country so insignificant that the world won’t notice when global warming swallows it and is useful only as a staging post for people who can’t get Australian citizenship without coming in with a NZ passport”?

  • “It must be nice to support a side where players actually improve rather than get noticeably worse as the months roll by.”


  • Meanwhile, Colin Graves threatens an inquisition if England don’t beat the Windies.

    Now think: if there’s one team that’s capable of losing to the Windies in Test cricket right now…

    • as they should. WI are a v v v v poor side. If any of these england players are going to put their hand up for selection against NZ/AUS then I expect 2 100’s at least from anyone int he top 5 and 50’s from the 6/7 in most games (and quickly too). Anything less and they aren’t performing as required and should be dropped

  • Meanwhile, Pakistan have appointed a Test batsman with a strike-rate of 64 in a grand total of 14 ODIs as captain of their ODI team. Oh, and he wasn’t even in the squad for the WC.

    Remind you of anyone we know?


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