Doug 'the rug' Bollinger has had scant excuse to
pop open the bubbly this Australian summer with a derided half-fit performance
in the Ashes being the nadir for the paceman, but his fortunes turned around
dramatically in Hobart.
Shaun Marsh looked set to be stranded on 59 not
out when Doug waddled to the crease with his excessive padding and impish grin,
but 12 overs later the cult hero had marshalled him through for his century
with a quite stunning run-a-ball 30.
With his hair piece looking evermore precarious
amid the delirious celebrations from the hosts in England's ill-fated reply,
Bollinger positively thrived in picking up four wickets for 28 runs while chirping
incessantly at the tourists' batsmen to good effect.
England were ready to slap the champagne on ice themselves with just two
wickets to take and a mere 142 runs on the board, but a couple of lusty blows
over cow signalled the Rug's intent as the complexion of the match changed
Big Doug said at stumps that he was simply
looking to "swing from the hip and let Marshy do his thing", and his
cunning plan came off like a dream.
Marsh, who was cruelly and frankly ridiculously
omitted from Australia's
World Cup squad, showed Messrs Hilditch et al the error of their ways with a
savage 110 off 114 balls and a Viv Richards-esque swagger at the crease.
Meanwhile, another 'where have you been all
summer?' Sheffield Shield star Nathan Hauritz bowled an impeccable and stifling
eight-over spell before a shoulder injury put paid to his day.
Hauritz's selection was over a month late, but
it patently highlighted the ineptitude of the Australia selectors in finding
favour in Xavier 'X Factor' Doherty and Michael 'serve it up' Beer ahead of the
frugal off spinner.
There were fleeting moments of optimism for England
supporters as Brett Lee played a typically straight delivery from Michael 'king
of darts' Yardy as if he were facing Bishen Bedi, playing all round the ball
and offering a humongous gate.
Equally, Steve Smith continued to confound his
backers with the most absurd heave across the line without a run to his name
you are likely to see this side of the West Indies,
and everyone was left still perplexed in wondering what the selectors see in
But no matter, the white Brian Lara was left to
partner Marsh and see Australia
through to what would rather incredibly prove to be a commanding total.
England's reply was
undermined from the outset as the recalled Matty Prior, who is as much of an
opening batsman as Timmy Bresnan is, edged one behind off the bowling of Brett
Lee, who moved the start of his run-up in front of the sightscreen for once.
Kevin Pietersen remembered that he had left his Springbok
casserole heating up in the dressing-room microwave unattended and promptly returned
within the space of one delivery, and no England batsman mustered a score in
excess of 32.
Bresnan added a stint of hilarity as he emerged from the hutch
with a rather sullen-faced Prior as his runner, and the Yorkshireman, not
renowned for using his loaf excessively, proceeded to run out James Tredwell.
Bressy appeared not to realise that the general etiquette of
batting, even with a runner at your side, is to call 'yes' or 'no', or simply
'waiting' if you are of the Owais Shah or Inzamam-ul-Haq persuasion, simply
opting to remain rooted in his crease, looking hopefully at Prior.
The England run-chase (if you can call it that without a flicker
of a wry smile), petered out in the tamest of fashions as Ajmal Shahzad
wandered down the track at the non-striker's end and barely broke into a jog as
he was run out just a yard shy of his ground.
It was a second match to forget for England, who
rather worrying are not faring with much distinction in pyjama cricket ahead of
the World Cup, but it was a day to remember for the effervescent Bollinger, who
will no doubt be drinking out of a glass flute until the third ODI in Sydney on
SHOT OF THE DAY: Marsh moved
to his century in the most emphatic, belligerent and uncompromising fashion
imaginable. After having mullered two successive fours through midwicket,
Strauss put two fielders on the fence to protect the boundary, only for the
left-hander to simply hoist one over their heads for six to bring up his ton.
STAT OF THE DAY: Bollinger and Marsh broke the Australia
all-time record for a ninth-wicket partnership in pyjama cricket with their improbable
stand of 88 runs.
COMMENT OF THE DAY: "Surely
with a syrup of figs like Doug Bollinger is wearing, it is an unfair advantage
as the batsman is bound to get distracted as it flops towards him, jeez!" (Jon laments the X Factor of Doug the rug's
hair piece, calling for it to be outlawed by the ICC.)