Not that it feels much like Christmas here after a long flight and the weather (28°c and clear blue skies, thank you very much for asking). We eventually made it into Melbourne airport at 11am Christmas morning after a three hour delay at Heathrow. Hearing the captain say that the crosswinds were above the legal limits was not what you want to be hearing and the subsequent bumpy take off showed just why only 10 planes had taken off over the previous hour. Once airborne though the flight was pleasant enough, even if the 13 hour leg from Dubai did drag – there are only so many episodes of ‘The Big Bang Theory’ you can watch!
My first impression upon arriving here this time was one of surprise. Despite being Christmas Day, the airport was running a full schedule and all the shops in town seem to be open. There is also a lack of decorations but then maybe this is to be expected when you celebrate Christmas in sunnier climes and swathes of holly and mistletoe don’t have the same impact.
Melbourne is busy today with locals out for a Christmas day drink, tourists (mostly from Asia) and of course the easily spotted England cricket fan. You can spot one at 100 paces – sunburnt yet still somehow pale and pasty, a slight look of bemusement at any sight of the sun and the constant loud conversations of ‘It’s Christmas day and look how bloody hot it is… I can’t believe it! However this time the England fans also seem to have a sense of resignation about the Cricket and appear to be focussing on just having a good time, whereas the Aussies, when compared to this time 3 years ago, are loud, crass and cocky (shock!).
So… onto the test tomorrow. There is talk of a world record crowd of 94,000+ (there were over 85,000 last time and that was when confidence in the national side was at a 30 year low), so it is plausible. There is also a lot of talk here about Bairstow replacing Prior and possibly Rankin getting a go. I’d like to see England keep faith with Prior at least to the end of this tour – his consistency and loyalty has earnt him at least that. In terms of the third seamer, assuming Broad is fit, personally I’d rather see Steven Finn line up. His pace and knack of taking wickets would be a good foil for the in-form Broad.
Can’t wait for the walk to the ground tomorrow; the height of excitement for any test fan. I just hope the excitement continues for five days and England can finally get off the mark in this series.
Finally, I apologise if this post is badly written or has mistakes, but I have only had an hours sleep in the last 48 hours. Of course I’m not making excuses; rather I’m just presenting the facts…..