Saturday, February 26, 2011

Introducing the Swannometer!

From now on, every England match will be marked on the Swann scale, judging by the facial expressions I see during the World Cup highlights. Jazzy.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Away in Australia... Part II: Sydney

I left Melbourne on New Year's Eve, on the day that it was expected to reach 40°C... As you can imagine, I was quite glad to be spending my morning in an air conditioned airport, boarding an air conditioned flight! 

As I was queueing to get on board, I spotted to my right a familiar face. Former England captain-turned Sky pundit, Mike Atherton and his family. It gets better. So much better. I got on and settled down next to probably the only Australian on board. There were people from the Barmy Army Colts on board, so it was a pretty English orientated flight. Suddenly, to my left, someone in the middle aisle said, "Isn't that Graeme Swann?" I turn around, like a few other England fans, and lo-and-behold on the other side of the plane, there he is, in all his cat rescuing glory. I turn back to the front, now with a huge grin on my face and suddenly, down my side of the aisle, is the Aussie conquerer himself, Alastair Cook. I didn't say anything. I've met/been very close to him before down at Essex (and have turned bright red in the process, quiet you), but here he was on a flight and I was worried I'd look like an absolute nutter. Still, I sat grinning like a moron as Paul Collingwood, Eoin Morgan and the man with the golden knock of 168 not out at the MCG, Jonathan Trott, all walked past me. It got even more surreal the moment that the Ashes retaining captain of Andrew Strauss got on board. Every England fan, having been at the MCG two days ago, gave him a clap. And he really appreciated it, because he flashed a massive smile. So did Andy Flower. And for the hour and a bit flight, I sat in a dazed state, trying not to listen to 'Love Will Tear Us Apart' on my iPod on repeat. They had the news on on the flight and there was an interview with Swanny in the sports bulletin saying that he was going to enjoy his hangover. Weirdly though, it was only Kevin Pietersen wearing the sunglasses... 

When the plane safely landed in Sydney, the poor, dejected Australian sat next to me looked very disappointed and said, "Bang goes our chance of a drawn series." 

So I was in Sydney for New Year's Eve. I went to collect my match tickets whilst waiting for my hotel to have my room ready. I got the match programme and flicked through it, only to find it was the exact same one I got in Melbourne. Apart from the feature on the members of squad from Victoria were replaced with a feautre on the members of the squad from New South Wales. Which is the majority of them. Anyway, like Christmas Day, I spent my New Year with the Barmy Army. I got to see the fireworks at New Year. I'm going to be honest, when I was stood on the street, it didn't really seem that impressive. I did get a decent view of the bridge though and once again met some very nice people! 

Anyway, after exploring the city on the Saturday and the Sunday, the day of the fifth and final Ashes Test arrived. Win, and England would have won the Ashes 3-1 for the first time in my short, 19 year life. Lose, and Australia would've got a 2-2 series draw that, in all honesty, they did not deserve. The only Test they really turned up in was the Perth Test and the first half of the Brisbane Test. As soon as Mitch dropped Strauss in Brisbane, it was all over for Australia in Adelaide, as the 'momentum' took a huge shift.

It was a grey and humid day in Sydney. And I somehow managed to find the route with the steepest hill (as a road) I have ever seen. I, being from Suffolk, had never seen such a huge incline and I was wearing flip flops. It was, quite frankly, gruelling and I considered walking it bare foot. Then I saw pieces of glass and thought better of it. The walk to the SCG was nothing like the MCG. There was no beautiful park by the river, no bridge leading to the ground, but it was still a fairly good walk. The way I went on the first day (I got lost at least three times due to lack of signposting/my inability to stick to main roads) was certainly much longer and more hilly...

As I was walking to the ground, I came across this poster of the front page of the Daily Telegraph, pinned to a tree:

I didn't take this photo until the close of play (hence the massive amount of rain water that forced me to walk back bare foot...), but both times I saw it, I managed to laugh to myself, because I'm lovely like that.

Soon, I arrived at the outside of the ground. There was a park, but it was for cars. It looked a nice, traditional ground.

I hadn't had the time to go and have a look at it, so I couldn't do any England stalking. Instead, I went to gate E and got into the ground. There were escalators, like the ones you find in Debenhams or something. They were outside. It was quite weird. It's probably just me not being very vigilant in other places. Anyway, I soon found my way to Bay 11 and sat in my seat. Again, like the MCG, it was a great view. Not as straight, but still a pretty decent view!
The England team warmed up and on the run round the outfield passed the Barmy Army section to much of a round of applause. Soon it was time for the toss. Michael Clarke came out to find no Andrew Strauss, who'd been late off the field after some more fielding drills. When I woke up in the morning, the idea came into my head that Clarke would bat, despite what happened at the MCG and despite the overhead conditions.

Michael Clarke (in the green blazer somewhere in the middle) strides out to the middle.
The toss was won by Australia. They decided to bat. Either Clarke was setting out a challenge to his batsmen (to paraphrase Ponting and apply it to Clarke: "Ah look mate, I was rubbish at Melbourne, but so were you guys.") or he had a suicide wish. Or he feared Swanny and didn't want to bat last on a pitch expected to offer spin. Or he was using the local knowledge of himself and most of his team-mates. Or... I'll stop now, because I'm just speculating and over-using 'or'. I can't remember what Clarke said when talking to Mark Nicholas, but I think Strauss must've been secretly pleased.

The indigenous people's welcome was given, the national anthems were sung and then the cricket began. I say cricket, it was quite possibly the most eye-bleedingly dull session of cricket that I have ever witnessed. To their credit, Australia had learnt from their errors in Melbourne. It was still agonising viewing as the Australian batsmen crawled along, blocking the good balls and playing the bad ones. I know I'm spoilt in this modern era of cricket, but if anything was like watching a modern version of Geoff Boycott, this was it. My mum texted me saying she was falling asleep until, suddenly, everything's favourite opener Phil Hughes fell back into the trap of not leaving a short one. He was out to the final ball before lunch. I was now wide awake and the torture was over.

This wicket of Hughes meant that the debutant of Usman Khawaja had to wait 40 minutes for his batting debut. People around me were pretty sure he'd be nervous, but when he strode out with Shane Watson (him having presumably informed Usman of his running habits), he looked relaxed. And he started off hitting Tremlett for two, then four off his first two balls. Already, he was looking better than Ricky Ponting had in the entire series.
The first day was pretty much ravaged by rain. After lunch, Australia continued with what they were doing before the lunch break, but seemed to be far more entertaining now. The Australian 100 came up and they were only 1 wicket down, which, considering some of their starts this series, was a minor miracle. However, Shane Watson, being the considerate chap he is, soon undid all his hard work and got out to Bresnan. Watson was fuming with himself. I think he punched his bat (it might not have been this innings) and that made me laugh even more... And so, this brought to the wicket stand-in captain Michael Clarke, to a chorus of boos. It wasn't even England fans, it was Australians. Clarke, at his home ground, captaining Australia was welcomed like he'd insulted them all in a past life.

He didn't hang around long. Bresnan, continuing to make me eat every last word I've ever said against him (much like James Anderson did last summer), got his edge and Anderson duly took the catch. This was all well and good, but it meant Mike Hussey was in. Having seen him fail in Melbourne, I was feeling incredibly wary here of what could be in prospect. Luckily, he didn't have much time to make much of an impact. Usman Khawaja mistimed a shot off of Swann and Trott took the catch. It turned out to be the last ball of the day, because then the heavens opened.

So, day one was pretty much honours even. England had got four wickets (three very quickly), Australia had Hussey and Haddin at the crease. Anyway, day one may've been a damp affair, but it didn't stop the crowd having fun:

Fred Flintstone and some "ladies" do the conga...
Fred Flintstone, some "ladies" and some Newcastle fans doing the Mitchell Johnson...

"Let's all do the sprinkler, let's all do the sprinkler..."
I decided to leave the ground just as it began to pour down. I couldn't be bothered to hang around and wait for it to finish, I didn't mind a bit of water. Big mistake. My flip flops became my worst enemy as they caused me to slip all over the place, so I took them off and decided to walk the mile or two back to the hotel bare foot. Unlike in the UK, nobody gave me a second glance here! Once I was back in the hotel, I dried off, washed the mud off of my feet and watched South Africa vs India. Jacques Kallis was awesome. Sreesanth was not.

So, to day two. It was a little less grey outside when I opened the curtains, but it was expected to be hot in the afternoon. On my way to the ground, I met some other Barmy Army folk and one of them turned out to be an Ipswich fan. Go all that way and you find yourself discussing the recent loss to Nottingham Forest...

Anyway, day two started well for England. The day had started at 10 due to all the rain yesterday and it would do the remainder of the Test. Early mornings all round. Haddin, evidently put off by this early start, decided to play a terrible, flashy, pointless shot and gift England their fifth wicket. Thanks very much, Brad! As England were looking to use up overs before the new ball, on came Paul Collingwood, who at this point hadn't said that he was retiring. What did he do? He bowled Mike Hussey with what turned out to be his final ball in Test cricket. And in came Mitchell Johnson.

Ah, Mitchell. As soon as he walked to the crease, the "He bowls to the left..." chant started up. And Mitch decided it was time to shut us up. He was blasting boundaries that Michael Clarke could only dream of hitting in his current form and when he reached 50, saluted the entire crowd. Apart from Bay 11. He even made a point of turning his back to us. Not the wisest decision, since there was still his bowling to be seen...

Smith and Siddle departed, and we were hoping to bundle them out before lunch. Unfortunately though, Hilfenhaus, bouyed on by his pair in Melbourne, put up some resistance with Johnson:
One of Hilfy's many edges. Seriously.

They continued after lunch and we were beginning to think that they might post a fairly decent score, until Mitch was bowled by Bresnan, prompting cautious delirium in the Barmy Army. Out came the other debutant, Michael Beer, to cheering from the Aussie fans. His first run was greeted with more cheering. Then Hilfenhaus played one shot too many and was caught behind off Anderson. 280 all out. Better than we expected. Better than we hoped. The Aussies would have confidence now.

Nothing could've prepared me for the Andrew Strauss that came out to bat.

The two batting heroes of Australia's innings were given the new ball. They were both incredibly wayward and Strauss and Cook gleefully hit them around the park. Strauss pulled Hilfenhaus for a six. He'd raced to 36 off 26, whereas Cook had 9 off the same number of balls. Clearly the captain had one eye on the ODI series (although as I write this, I'm not sure which ODI series). His fifty came up off Johnson (ha!) off of 49 balls. I don't know what he'd had in his beverage during the innings break, but it's something that everyone else needed.

Unfortunately, Hilfenhaus finally bowled a good ball. Strauss missed it and was bowled on the off stump. We were disappointed, but it had given England a cracking start as they were 98-1. However, Johnson got in on the act in the very next over. Trott, greeted with a chorus of boos, marked his guard (or as the Aussie behind me at the MCG said, digging his way back to South Africa). He needn't have bothered. He inside edged it onto his stumps and gave Mitchell Johnson a lift. We were 99-2 and now Kevin Pietersen was at the crease. Take out his 227 at Adelaide, and he'd had another distinctly average series. He greeted his first ball by hitting it to the boundary.

It was time for England to rebuild, Alastair Cook was still in and he hit another 50. If they weren't already, Australians were beginning to get sick of the sight of him. He gave us a scare though, as on 46, Cook decided to take Beer on. He skied it to Hilfenhaus who duly took the catch and the celebrations began. However, like we'd seen in Melbourne with Prior, the umpire (this time Billy Bowden) went upstairs to ask if it was a no-ball, which he is allowed to do if the ball takes a wicket. And, with the delivery being replayed on the big screen, it was glaringly obvious that Beer had over-stepped. Cue The Barmy Army singing, "Ali, Ali Cook, Ali Cook..." to some annoyed Australians...

And then, with England looking comfortable on 160 odd for 2, KP decided to take on Mitch. Johnson bowled his "secret weapon" of the shorter ball and what did KP do? He hooked it straight down Michael Beer's throat. Seemingly suffering from short term memory loss at both Bell and Collingwood doing the same thing in Melbourne, I cannot even begin to describe how I angry I was! It was a complete and utter waste of a wicket. If it had been a good ball, I wouldn't have been so annoyed, but instead he was out the same way that two of his team mates were out. Don't get me wrong, I was annoyed at Ian Bell too, but this was nearing the close of play. In came James Anderson as a night watchman, and to his credit, he survived. Every dot ball bowled by Johnson in the final over of the day was greeted with hugely ironic cheers.

And so, at the end of day two, England were in a decent enough position. Cook was still in and once Jimmy got out, we were into the last batters. It would be an interesting, but also emotional, day three. As day three, was pink day for the Glenn McGrath Foundation.

The Barmy Army shirt.

Pink wigs.

Jimmy gets in the spirit.

The England team giving their pink caps to Glenn McGrath
I have never seen so much pink in my life. Brett Lee was wearing something that a friend of mine would be jealous of and grown men had adorned themselves in various shades of the stuff. It was quite a sight and a fantastic tribute and way to raise money.

On to the cricket. Jimmy hit a fantastic drive for four and then got bowled next over. Standard English batting. It brought to the crease Paul Collingwood, the man who has a knack of scoring a century when his place is being questioned or he's out of form. Cook was getting closer to yet another century in this Ashes series and Collingwood was at the other end doing what Colly does best, looking incredibly nervous and inside edging it loads.

Cook, on 99, decided that it was time to give the Barmy Army another heart attack and seemingly clip it straight to Phil Hughes. Cook wasn't convinced at all, Hughes didn't seem too sure, but Haddin was adament. So it went upstairs. And it was not out. Cook survived and chants of "same old Aussies, always cheating" came out. Beer was having no luck and Cook finally managed to find the gap and notch up yet another ton.

Unfortunately, my joy was fairly short lived, as in the next Beer over, Collingwood tried to slog it for six and ended up giving Beer his first Test wicket. There would be no fairy tale for Colly, his final Test innings finished with him being out for 13. But that's not what I'll remember of Colly's last Test. Him bowling Mike Hussey is the thing I won't forget. 
Michael Beer's first (and so far only) Test wicket
In came Ian Bell, another one of England's in form players. After two early blows, England once again had to rebuild at 227-5. The way we were going, it looked like we might only get a very slender lead. Bell began watchfully as Cook continued to nab any singles. He was in and had the determined look in his eyes. 
Once Bell finally hit a boundary, all the pressure seemed to lift off his shoulders and he began playing those scrumptious shots that make you go, "SHOT!" or make funny noises that sound a bit dodgy. He got to his fifty off Steve Smith (who, despite being a spinner playing at Sydney, did not bowl until the 102nd over) and England were getting closer to a 100-run lead. 

And England got the lead of 100, then Cook got out 11 short of a probably very well deserved double hundred. Still, he'd hit 189, yet another fantastic knock and may as well have been handed the man of the series award as he walked off the pitch. Shane Watson's reaction to getting Cook out annoyed me, as he celebrated like he was the new messiah or something. (Apologies, once again, for my incredibly blinkered view) Out came Matt Prior. 
Suddenly, with Bell on 67, controversy reared its ugly head again. Bell was given out caught behind off of Shane Watson. After a lengthy debate with Prior, he decided to review it. HotSpot showed nothing. The decision was overturned. I didn't think he'd hit it and then Snicko showed a noise as the ball passed the inside edge. Bell had taken his time whilst talking to Prior. If he hadn't thought he'd hit it, he'd have gone for it straight away, surely? If the technology of Snicko is there, why isn't it used? Surely it's more conclusive than HotSpot? And was this worse than the Phil Hughes catch appeal when Cook was on 99? Either way, it certainly changed the match. Unlike at Melbourne, where one captain had blown his top, Michael Clarke accepted it and Australia got on with it. 

Bell got his maiden Ashes century. He was greeted with some boos from the Australians, but with mass applause from the Barmy Army. 
England's lead continued to build and build. Prior was playing an aggressive innings, he reached 50 soon after Bell's century and it was exactly what England needed. Bell fell in the penultimate over of the day (he was booed off by bitter Aussies, and roundly cheered by English fans) to Mitchell Johnson, who by the end of the over, was reaching a well deserved century as well. It brought out Tim Bresnan, but England had a lead of 200 and with Prior with the aggressive mindset, Bresnan in and Swann still in the hutch, that lead was likely to grow after five sessions in the field.

Day four began with the news of Paul Collingwood's retirement from Test cricket. The general consensus was that it was the right time to go. He'd be a part of Ashes and cricket history. Yes, he may not've scored many runs in this series, but that catch of Ponting in Perth was a stonker. I will never, ever forget the 206 he made in that fateful Adelaide Test back in 2006/07 and some of his fielding has been absolutely sublime. When England next came out to field, the reaction to the Durham all-rounder would be superb. 

England's 500 came up off a Bresnan boundary, off Mitchell Johnson. This boundary happened to bring up Mitchell's century as well, but sadly this was largely ignored due to the fact England had scored 500+ for the fourth time in the series, which is some achievement considering the fact we're England and can do Englishy things at any time (see the Perth Test). 

England were going for it, no wickets were lost in the first hour and runs were flowing. Johnson, Hilfenhaus and Siddle had gone for over 300 between them and Australia didn't have many options. The new ball came, Johnson bowled a couple of decent deliveries, then bowled a crap one. Hilfenhaus was all puff and no bite and Siddle seemed to have used up his anger/good bowling at his home ground. The lead was now 300, then Johnson got Bresnan out. He had four wickets. For 130 runs. Would he really want a five-fer with those figures? 

A couple of overs after Bresnan was out, the 600 came up. It was truly staggering. The tail was well and truly wagging and Swann, well, Swann was tearing into Mitchell Johnson. Off the 10 Johnson balls he faced, Swann scored 29. Including one six and three fours. We were loving it. Swann was loving it. Michael Clarke was not. After being hit for 20 off one over, Johnson was sent to fine leg and was not to be seen again. 
Bowling, Mitch!
I've neglected to mention Matt Prior's century. As soon as he hit the four off Michael Beer, he ran straight over to the Barmy Army and celebrated like a mad man. I had a perfect shot and then my camera let me down. Still:
England made it to lunch at 600 odd for 9. Australia were shell-shocked. England were filling their boots (as the phrase goes). What we needed was more of Swann on strike, because when he's in the slogging mood, he's devastating. It was soon all over after lunch, as Tremlett edged it behind off Hilfenhaus, who somehow had 3 wickets. It was England's highest score in Australia. Ever. 

And so, England were now 5 sessions away from winning the Ashes 3-1. With no sign of the rain that plagued the earlier days returning, there really only seemed to be one result, unless the Australian batting line up grew a back bone in 10 minutes.

Watson came out playing aggressively. First ball, he hit Anderson for four and the Australians all turned round and began to give us some verbals. Having seen how easily England had swatted away the Aussie bowlers, Watson evidently thought he'd do the same. However, at the other end, was Phil Hughes. You have to feel kind of sorry for him, even if he is Australian. He's disliked by most of the fans, had a torrid 2009 Ashes series where he was worked out and here. Well, here he was hopelessly out of form and expected to fill the boots of Simon Katich.

But he wasn't the first wicket to fall. Oh no, the first wicket to fall was, quite possibly, the funniest thing I've seen. Watson, deciding that there was two, whereas Hughes (rightly) thought there was only one. Watson charged down the pitch, whilst Hughes calmly put his bat behind the line and Australia's first wicket had fallen. It was another run out, another waste and another side-splitter for me.

Several overs later, the inevitable happened, Hughes was out to Bresnan and Australia were 50 odd for 2. Hardly match saving territory. Khawaja was in with Clarke (again, greeted by boos) and they set about rebuilding. They lasted until tea, with England applying pressure. Swann was holding down one end and the seamers were being rotated. It was really only a matter of time.

After the tea break, Clarke and Khawaja began to hit some boundaries again, but then Khawaja did an England/Ricky Ponting-esque thing of hitting a boundary, then getting out. It didn't matter about run rate, England were never going to have to bat again after posting nearly 650, it was just keeping wickets intact and Australia just didn't have the right mentality. Their natural game is to attack (Watson looked about as comfortable as I would be wearing a Norwich shirt in the first innings), so defensive strategy is something that doesn't appear to be discussed in the Aussie changing room... They either get off to a flier or crumple in a heap and for Australia, they crumpled in a heap far too much this series.

With Khawaja gone, Mike Hussey was in, and someone handily decided to put this scary fact on the scoreboard:
Clarke soon departed and we were back to Hussey and Haddin, who'd put on a record partnership in Brisbane before Alastair Cook and Jonathan Trott poured buckets of water over their bonfires. Australia were in a similar position to where they were in the first innings, but this time, there was pressure on from the scoreboard.

Hussey was playing well, he seemed to have forgotten his woes in Victoria and was beginning to look like the nightmarish one. Haddin was playing a bit of a counter-attack and then... Bresnan got Hussey. The first 5 balls had cost 9 runs, and then the final ball of the over, Hussey slapped it straight to Pietersen. He was gone for 12 and England now only needed 5 wickets to win the Ashes 3-1 and Australia were still 200 runs behind. They were facing yet another humiliating innings defeat. If ever there was a time to salvage pride, this was it.

Tremlett, meanwhile, had other ideas. In what was meant to be the last over of the day, Haddin could do nothing against Tremlett's short ball and ended up top edging a simple catch to Matt Prior (he always catches a top edge skier...) and it brought out Mitchell Johnson to chants of "We want Mitch! We want Mitch! We want Mitch!" What happened was just incredible. As he was walking out to the middle, he was greeted with "He bowls to the left...", as he was marking his guard, "He bowls to the riiiiiiight..." and then silence fell as Tremlett ran in to bowl.

What a moment. Just what a moment. A golden duck for the guy that had been made the target of the Barmy Army. His stumps were shattered and Tremlett was on a hat-trick. Bay 11 was going insane, I was looking for a person to hug, the person sat next to me later told me he could've kissed me he was so happy. It was just mass jubilation and as Mitch walked off, head down, I'm sure all he could hear was yet another cheerful rendition of "That Mitchell Johnson, his bowling is shite!"

England got the extra half hour, but to be perfectly honest, it was probably better that it went into the fifth day. It would be quite refreshing to have a fifth day of a Test match, after all, it's what I was there for. People had bought their tickets, only to be told that entry to day five was now free. Nice one Australians, nothing like taking losing well.

England were three wickets away from ending 24 years of pain Down Under and taking an Ashes series 3-1. Day five was threatening showers, but even this couldn't help Australia now. I'm going to give the stewards at the Sydney Cricket Ground some well deserved credit, as well as the Barmy Army people. If the steward hadn't seen you in the previous four days, you weren't allowed to sit with Bay 11. Someone had taken my seat, so I sat next to my Ipswich Town supporting friend. It was still a great view and there was no inflatable swan in my way this time.

England fans were waiting for the inevitable and were enjoying it. Any England player that stood near us was serenaded. Nasser Hussain gave us a wave. When Strauss went to retrieve a ball from the boundary, he was greeted with huge cheers. However, like in Melbourne, Siddle put up resistance and Steve Smith actually batted well for the first time ever. Their partnership got bigger and bigger until Siddle finally mistimed one and this happened:
Jimmy takes the catch to give England their eighth wicket.
Now we were into the tailenders. Hilfenhaus, despite getting 30-odd in the first innings, was always suspectible. He edged behind to Prior off Anderson for 12 and England were now one wicket away from an absolutely amazing 3-1 victory. Instead of describing it to you, as I don't think my words could do it any justice, here are my pictures:
Hilfenhaus falls
Cook gives us a wave!

Oh Colly, we love you!

Billy the Trumpter plays 'The Last Post' with absolutely perfect timing as...

...Tremlett bowls Beer and the celebrations begin.

Yeah, I can never return to Australia after this.
It was an absolutely amazing thing to be a part of, and I doubt I will experience something like this again. Even if Ipswich beat Chelsea and Arsenal (they beat Arsenal, which was incredibly odd), it wouldn't even come close to how I was feeling that Friday morning in Sydney (and I can confirm, the Arsenal victory was amazing, but it just wasn't this). 

I'm going to be honest, the presentation ceremony was a bit disappointing. We didn't get the chance to serenade Mitchell for one last time and then each member of the England team. Still, I don't blame the Aussies, it is quite a painful thing to go through and they probably wanted to get home and allow Swann to drink some jagerbombs. 

Soon we left the ground to head down to another Barmy Army pub where I spent much of my afternoon singing, cheering and taking the piss of Mitchell Johnson's bowling. People in the streets stopped to have a look as we were creating so much noise.
 One final thing that happened in Sydney was the End of Tour Party and it was rumoured that some of the players would turn up. And turn up they did. One member of the group I was with managed to meet Swanny, Cook and Bell and then they went straight up to the VIP level. I was left slightly saddened and then Steven Finn turned up downstairs. Once again, it was just another surreal moment. And he did the sprinkler.

It's been nearly a month since I've returned from Australia and even though the ODI series is going so badly (I can't really pretend it's not happening), whenever I look through my pictures or look at the display I have now made on my wall of my time over there, I immediately become a lot happier! It was, in all honesty, a once in a lifetime opportunity and I am so pleased that I got the chance to go. I would, one day, love to return to Melbourne, because out of the two places, I fell in love with that city. Don't get me wrong, Sydney's a nice place too, but I don't know what it was about Melbourne. It was probably the fact the Australian Open was right next door to the MCG. 

Still, I once again leave you with a historic image (and bubbles):

 Thanks for reading. I'll try and be nice about Shane Watson and Mitchell Johnson and stop being such a giddy fan girl one day.