In the Army now
After weeks of reporting on the Ashes, our man Down Under took to the field in the Fans series decider in Sydney.
By Joe Drabble
Last Updated: 02/01/11 11:49pm
After spending all winter watching cricket, it was my turn to get amongst the action after earning a call-up to the McGrath Foundation Fans Ashes Twenty20 series between The Fanatics from Australia and the Barmy Army from you know where.
The series was locked at 2-2 heading to Sydney and, after meeting some of the Barmy Army 'selectors' a night or two ago, I managed to talk my way into the line-up for the decider.
All the previous matches have been played at club grounds in Brisbane, Adelaide, Perth and Melbourne, as a curtain-raiser to the proper Ashes contests.
However the crunch contest was played at the Coogee Oval, Sydney and the one-and-only Glenn McGrath was present, along with Vic 'Jimmy Saville' Flowers, Billy the Trumpeter and co, to watch the action.
As the crowd built up before the start I wasn't entirely sure what to expect but the fact we were in the field first gave me a good chance to gauge the standard and see how serious both teams were taking it all.
Answer: Very serious. It was getting filmed for goodness sake!
With temperatures up in the high 30s I tried to position myself in the slips, however I wasn't the only one thinking along those lines and the more senior figures quickly booted me out towards the covers.
It proved a masterstroke as I immediately got in on the action with a catch at extra cover to claim the first Fanatic wicket. That started a procession and the Aussies were skittled out for just 88.
The Barmy Army crowd members gave us a rousing reception as we came off the field and it was then left to the batsmen to knock off the runs.
A likable gentleman named 'Pedro' and I were tasked with opening the batting, and, in some makeshift protective gear I strolled out to the middle keeping my eye on the whereabouts of McGrath to make sure he wasn't coming on to open the bowling.
I had a look at the first delivery from the non-striker's end and it was a good job too as I watched the ball whistle past Pedro's nose and into the wicketkeeper's gloves at head height...
I tentatively took a single to face the last two balls of the over, the first I 'left', the second I edged/placed through gully for a single. This was going to be more difficult than I thought...
The wicketkeeper stood equally as far back for the second opening bowler, who was also not afraid to throw down some short stuff! I wasn't wearing a helmet and calling for one is admitting defeat. I battled on.
A crunching four down the ground by yours truly was met with a rendition of 'four more to the Eng-er-land' by Billy the Trumpeter, I must admit, that made me feel a lot better than I am!
My mood was dampened when I looked down and saw the state of my bat - it had only snapped almost in two! I quickly called for a replacement, however, as so often happens, I was then bowled the very next ball.
Some would say I took the shine off the new ball, others would say I was blown away. Either way, my innings of 10 laid the platform for us to go on and win by six wickets.
A wonderfully organised event was topped off with a few drinks on the beachfront and I can now take a back seat and leave it to the experts at the SCG.
We drove past the famous venue on the way home, it looks the perfect setting for England to win the series outright!
For more Ashes-related updates, follow Joe on Twitter @DrabsDownUnder.