Australian cricket is currently in disarray. The captain has crocked his back, while the volatile opening bat, David Warner, has been suspended. The once exemplary iron discipline of the national team has rusted somewhat.
Let’s not gloat over this, for the Aussies have a long track record of coming back to wipe the gloat from one’s face. The Ashes – sadly not featuring Edgbaston this time – are just around the corner.
Warner’s swipe at the England child prodigy, Joe Root, in a Birmingham bar has been all over the papers. “Yeh, I’d had a couple of beers,” said Warner apologetically, as he went off for anger management lessons.
“It’s just something I’ll have to take on the chin,” the Australian added, an apology he subsequently had to apologise for.
Apparently the decision to use fists was all on one side, even if the provocation was mutual. For once the England players, themselves prone to late-night activities involving pedalos, were blameless.
But let’s examine this a bit more closely.
England have just trounced Australia over 50 overs at Edgbaston, always said to be the team’s favourite ground. Where would an England cricketer go to celebrate the first successful blow of an Ashes summer ?
To sample the tasting menu at Purnell’s, perhaps? Or catch an evening of Mahler at Symphony Hall? Clearly neither of these.
The venue picks itself. Why not go walkabout down to the Australian bar on Broad Street? If any venue is going to offer opportunities for triumphalism, this would be it. There might even be an Australian cricketer at the bar, seemingly safe in the bosom of his home supporters and nursing a desultory pint of Foster’s.
Their luck was in.
Then it’s simply a matter of wearing a Australian green-and-gold wig as a false beard, and being ready to duck.
With any luck, this will be the only duck that England’s up-and-coming batsman encounters this summer.
* Dr Chris Upton is Reader in Public History at Newman University Birmingham