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  Friday, 15 November, 2002, 08:44 GMT
English spirits still high
England fans at the Gabba
England's fans gained praise from their hosts


It is over a week since I sat in the sun at the Gabba and confidently predicted to those around me that we would be able to bat for over 130 overs.

But the couple of hours of cricketing carnage that followed still hurts.

And it's not getting any easier either.

Along with the majority of England fans in between Tests, I've headed out of Brisbane and have made it down to Byron Bay in New South Wales.

Barmy Army shirts and caps have been placed deep in rucksacks
It may be miles from Brissy but the locals are disappointingly well clued-up on their cricket.

A group of lads leaned out of their car as I strolled to the beach this morning to tell me "You Poms are gonna get thrashed 5-0 mate!"

This has become a regular feature of the days following the defeat in Brisbane.

The Barmy Army shirts and caps that were being worn with pride before the Test have discretely been removed and placed deep in the travelling rucksacks.

For the fan on the road trying to enjoy the time between the Test matches it's a form of damage limitation!

Andy Bichel dismisses Andy Caddick
Only Caddick's dismissal could change the chant
England's performance on the pitch received the slating from the Aussie press that it fully deserved.

But off the pitch England's fans could not set a foot wrong in the eyes of those watching.

During the Test both local and national newspapers were full of the antics of the Barmy Army, comparing their success over their Australian counterparts with goings-on on the pitch.

On the day after the Test with various England fans even made the TV news, being quizzed on their feelings at the no-show of Nasser and the boys.

Even when the wheels were flying off the England second innings, the travelling fans kept their spirits up with the promise: "It's gonna be 5-0!"

It wasn't until Andy Caddick spooned the final shot of the match into Darren Lehmann's hands that the chant was amended to: "It's gonna be 4-1!"

For me now it's just a case of covering the 2000 or so kilometres down to Adelaide in time for next week's Test.

And I see England are a whopping 14-1 with local bookies to upset the form book and win the Test match.

Already plans are afoot for a whip-round amongst the England fans to sting the Aussie bookmakers for a few dollars and strike a blow for Blighty!

I'm afraid we'll be swallowing our pride and singing "It's gonna have to be 3-2" sometime towards the end of the second Test.

But at least we'll keep our spirits up.

You can contact Phil in Australia by emailing:

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01 Nov 02 | The Ashes
06 Nov 02 | The Ashes
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