Friday, January 07, 2022


Ashes to Ashes

Dust to dust

If Root don’t get you 

Oosie must

We do wonder how many of us wore Paul Kelly’s t-shirt on Making the Gravy at the SCG …

‘Cricket lit a fire deep in his soul’: Paul Kelly writes incredible song about Usman Khawaja

Gin Gin, Gary and sea of Benaud grandchildren invaded the Sydney Cricket Ground on 6th, Sixth, January with Tania and Dominique enjoying the six runs in the last seconds of the game when even the rain was stopped by the power of the Slavic prayer 🙏 

Brew flowed faster than sprinting Steve Smith off the ground as soon as droplets of rain began to fall… on level 5 of the Brewongle stand in row P…

Scott Boland is the only Scott i want as Australia's PM.

Someone kept playing Waltzing Mathilda, Christmas and few other colourful tunes on the trumpet. 

During the game, Richie’s Mexican waves ruled …

As Wendy’s former Coogee neighbour Richie Benaud, as it was pointed out by Canberrans, not Ricky Ponting,  was everywhere. There was 365 of him at the Test. He’s in the gents, he’s queuing up for a beer and he’s always holding a Channel Nine blow-up microphone. More vocal even than the Barmy Army, they take up most of a stand at the SCG. There’s even a few “Richettes”.

Day two of the Ashes Test at the SCG between Australia and England was how it is supposed to be with the sun mostly out, a regular supply of boundaries, a beer or two and, after late morning, uninterrupted play.

We forgot for a few hours the COVID-19 statistics and were far more concerned by batting averages.

The question for those arriving under ominous skies was what to wear. Pink with shorts or a summer dress (that included some guys) seemed to be the go - but with wet weather gear at close range.

For cricket followers, watching Usman Khawaja can be as therapeutic as a meditation teacher’s flickering candle or a photo of a dolphin. The ball was often being checked for going out of shape, but safe to say none of the damage was being done by Khawaja. All day he trod lightly on the turf, gliding along as if living out a dream he once had while lying on a bench with his eyes closed.

How did a man like Usman Khawaja get to inherit the magnificent No. 1 shirt? 

Up on the wrought iron balcony, in the shade of the pavilion, one of the Australian bowlers is looking at cricket balls, trying them out for size.

Without any English choirs or orchestras on hand, the crowd noise in the SCG was almost entirely local, and it was notable how powerful the support for Khawaja has become. The one sustained song from the outer had the lyrics ‘Uzzie, Uzzie, Uzzie’ oi. oi oi , to the tune and tempo once reserved for Lillee and Warney. He received standing ovations whenever necessary and sometimes when not. He got bigger cheers than even Smith and Patrick Cummins. His reverse sweep off Leach early in the morning brought down the house and a passing shower too.

Gorilla in the brew stand … imaginative image by N’Dari

A hundred for Usman Khawaja!

111th over: Australia 321-6 (Khawaja 102, Cummins 15) It’s Leach to whom Root turns, to ruin the fairytale. Cummins finds a single and Khawaja has three balls to get a run. He squeezes the ball, through the gap at square leg, and that’s it! He leaps in the air, pulls off his helmet, marches on the spot like an ecstatic drummer, raises his bat and gets a hug from Cummins and rousing applause from his home crowd. His ninth Test century, and what a return to the Test side after two years out. The teams stroll off for tea, Khawaja leading the way up to the lovely green-roofed pavilion, slaps on the back every step of way.

Usman KhawajaWe 

A stunning century by Usman Khawaja in a return to Test cricket that seemed scarcely plausible a week ago has added another chapter to the book of Boy's Own tales being written through Australia's ongoing Ashes dominance.

In Brisbane it was Pat Cummins' fairytale finish to an unexpected captaincy debut; in Adelaide (where Steve Smith stepped so seamlessly back into the captaincy) it was Jhye Richardson's five-wicket bag after a long injury lay-off; and Melbourne still echoes with chants for Scott Boland.

On a day for returning veterans, when Stuart Broad underscored the folly of being overlooked for two of the first three Vodafone Ashes Tests by claiming England's first five-for of the campaign, Australia stretched their first innings to a daunting 8(dec)-416 on a challenging SCG pitch.

Australia seize control on back of Khawaja brilliance

Richie Benaud fan club co-founder Steve Blacker stands by the Richie lookalikes at SCG for the second day of the third Ashes Test v England.

Richie Benaud fan club co-founder Steve Blacker stands by the Richie lookalikes at SCG for the second day of the third Ashes Test v England.CREDIT

As the spectators poured out of the Sydney Cricket Ground and into Yarra Bay Sailing club and the bars and restaurants of Paddington only one name was on their lips. Stuart Broad may have issued a statement about his deployment on tour with a five-wicket haul but of the two recalled 35-year-olds on show, it was Usman Khawaja who headlined day two.

In his first Test innings for nearly two and a half years... Usman Khawaja brings up his century at the SCG! 💯🙌

A century to Usman Khawaja on Day 2 at the SCG has capped off a great come back story for the 35-year-old. 

Khawaja, on the ground he debuted back on in 2011, reached 100 in the over before Tea in his first Test back since being dropped during the 2019 Ashes series.

Having started the day on 3*, the Queensland captain would go on to add another 134 runs before being dismissed by Stuart Broad, bowled through the gate. 

He ensured that the day once again belonged to the Australians, who reached 416 on a difficult surface to well and truly put England under the pump. 

Sent out with just 25 minutes to survive, the English openers achieved a rare feat on this tour, surviving a tricky period to both be there at Stumps. 

However, it wasn't without Zak Crawley getting lucky, edging Mitchell Starc to first slip on a no-ball.

When MEdia Dragon was slaving away so earlier In his absence, things looked ominous for England as Steve Smith and Khawaja built a 115-run partnership, but Smith’s dismissal to Broad for 67 and the departures of Cam Green and Alex Carey cheaply gave hope to the tourists they could dismiss the Aussies for little more than 300. 

However, as it so often has this series, the tail wagged for Australia to push the total into the 400s. 

Pat Cummins and Mitchell Starc put on 46 and 67-run partnerships with Usman Khawaja for the seventh and eighth wickets as Australia moved to drain England’s prospects of a win early in the Test match. 

Australia declared at 8-416, Broad taking five wickets in a performance that will no doubt leave England supporters scratching their heads over why he has missed two out of the four Tests.


128th over: Australia 384-7 (Khawaja 132, Starc 23) Anderson bowls the first ball after drinks as clouds start to build around the SCG, the flags jagging in the wind, the floodlights switching on. It’s a maiden from the penny-pincher and he and Broad chew the fat at the end of the over as Anderson puts his sunglasses upside down on the back of his cap.

“England have dealt reasonably well with the top order but the game is moving away from them again,” muses Matthew Petch. “Starc and Cummins can both bat and are dragging us inexorably to 400 with Khawaja. The advantage was with England 321-6 at tea.” Yes, the Australian tail is proving a great irritant for England

More people tested positive to COVID-19 in NSW on Wednesday than there were fans on the first day of the Sydney Test, as player anxiety grows over the ballooning cases in the Big Bash League.

It was a case of another day, another COVID drama for Cricket Australia, which is showing the flexibility of an Olympic gymnast in keeping the show on the road during the peak holiday period.

The broadcasters have not been spared the chaos either, though viewers at home would unlikely be aware of the hurdles being cleared behind the scenes.

Former Australia Test captain Ricky Ponting performed his commentary duties for Channel Seven from isolation in his home in Melbourne while Damien Fleming and James Brayshaw, both part of the network’s A-team, did not feature on the telecast, nor did England great Ian Botham.

Test great Mark Taylor, a columnist for this masthead, and Mark Waugh were among several calling the game remotely for Triple M, while Merv Hughes was sidelined altogether.

Strain starting to show on cricket as COVID wreaks more havoc

Gerard Whateley is one of many commentators that are calling for the ICC to change its outdated conventions as rain interrupted day one of the Sydney Test Match. 

Only 46.5 overs were bowled on a frustrating opening day after the umpires called for six rain delays.


Not only was this Ashes series’ best Test set up on Wednesday, but so was England’s greatest chance to claim a long-sought win in Australia. 

Within an hour of play in the fourth Test on Thursday, there was a feeling that chance had already been blown with Australia shaking off a late day one wobble. 

By the end of the day’s play in Sydney, England had been well and truly inflicted another humiliation by the Australians, who posted 8-416 declared in tricky conditions.

Aussies ‘finally make a mistake’ but Poms could ‘get blown away’ as brutal test looms