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On a whim this morning I got up early to watch the last 45 minutes of the cricket from England. Australia led the series 5-0 going into this match, and were well on their way to another easy victory. Win again on Sunday and its a series clean sweep, nice, and it goes some way to make up for losing the Ashes – but never far enough.
In any case I sat there on my couch watching while the sun rose outside and the day began and it was all very conventional until the after match presentations.
Poor old Andrew Strauss, six times now he's had to get up on stage in front of a home crowd and make some sort of explanation for a succession for woeful performances. It's a tough gig and he must be sick of coming up with different answers while the team continues to under-perform (though Australia has been exceptional).
I have a lot of time for Strauss. For a start he leads from the front, as a captain should. He had a very good Ashes series and has been their best player in the one-dayers. It's not his fault they're losing. I like his style too. He's not a flashy batsman, but he's solid, and he brings those same qualities to his captaincy.
I had thought him stolid and unimaginative, and while that is occasionally true you can't fault his heart or his work ethic, he's honest and he tells it like it is.
That's one of the reasons I was shocked this morning when he was booed as he walked to the dais. I'm sure those sour English supporters doing this are not representative of the English public, but it is another indication of the capricious nature of the English sporting public. For fucks sake, you've just won the Ashes! A month ago they were riding high and acting smug. Now it's turned the other way.
I can imagine few good reasons why any captain should be booed, least of all Andrew Strauss. It's reprehensible. I know as an Aussie that the only time an Australian captain is booed it's by the opposition supporters – which is what happened through the Ashes this year. Not good form perhaps, but you'll cop it, as Ponting did.
One of the strengths of Australian sport is its unity and purpose, it'll stick through good and bad. And while the Australian public expect a lot they've been given a lot, and know it. Even when it's not so good we know that the team is fighting, and we have faith that things will turn – as always they do. From bad things good things come.
It's something the English could well learn. It's stout characters like Strauss who can take them to the top – unfortunately there is still much in the national temperament that serves to undermine that success and prevent it from being anything more than fleeting.