His name is Eddo Brandes and England needs him now. Never heard of him? That’s OK. Most people haven’t. But England needs him now.
People don’t remember him for his 10 Tests, his lofty batting average (10) or his even loftier bowling average (36). Instead they remember him for his confrontation with that great Australian laugh-a-minute wit “Oooh -Arrrh” Glen McGrath, which went something like:
OAGM: “How come you’re so fat?”
EB: “Because every time I make love to your wife she gives me a biscuit”.
That’s the ticket lads, that’s the attitude. That’s what we need in Adelaide
So Jimmy’s going to deck George and Clarkey offers Jimmy a broken arm in return. England loses by 381. The media hoes into the tourists who respond with a media blackout. You need to get on the front foot boys not the back foot. You need to toughen up. Need to give it back with interest. Need to get some ‘Eddo’ in you.
Steve Waugh called it ‘mental disintegration’. The rest of us call it sledging. It’s going to play a big part in the rest of this series. In the world of professional sport where the talent is spread so evenly, it’s sometimes just a couple of percent between the ears that makes the difference. That’s why they need Eddo. This crop of Australians didn’t invent sledging, I’m giving that honour to the great Ian Chappell and his team of the 70’s, even if he didn’t he was the best. He knew the power of the mind.
Lets face it in terms of lines in the sand of our Australian beaches, the Adelaide Test is ‘do or die’ for England. Lose this and its curtains. The Third Test is in Perth. The Aussies will play 8 quicks and they’ll all bowl at 180mph from the same end with the Fremantle Doctor coming on strong behind them. No, Perth could be ugly – Adelaide is England’s chance. A draw would do nicely – steady the ship and settle the nerves.
Adelaide is the right place at the right time for England. You see it’s a funny place. I was born there. So were Stephen Wundke, our editor and my legendary old skipper Harry Harrison. We seem to have churches and serial killers in equal number. We also had a cricket team which has been shite for the best part of 30 years. We were so ordinary we’d get bowled out before lunch and again just after tea – all on day 1. So the brains trust got together and ripped up the Adelaide Oval pitch and replaced it with a slab of concrete. South Australia hasn’t lost at home since. Problem is that no one else has lost there either. Hasn’t been a result there since 1982. All England have to do is win the toss. The Adelaide pitch and 45c heat will take care of the rest. Get to lunch on day 1 at about 300/1 and declare at tea on the last day at 800/6. Bowl the delirious Aussies out for 90 and have them 80/5 in the second dig at the close. Take the moral victory and head to Perth. And take Eddo with you.
Damien Opolski – for The Betting Agency, in Australia