Church, the pub, Leopardstown
Christmas for us is spent back in the Motherland and it's great to be able to bring the car back and have a brilliant three weeks at home.
With my wife, Jen being a teacher, it allows us to spend the whole of the holidays in the place that we both call home. We go up to my Granny's house and bring her to church on Christmas morning... her favourite phrase to everyone is, "this is my wee grandson and that's his wee wife!"
Now I'm no giant but I'm a good foot taller than my Granny! We then head off to have Christmas lunch with my Dad before driving down to spend a few days with Jen's family in Kinsale. Jen's mum comes from the fishing village in County Cork so it's nice to be able to get down there and spend a bit of time with them.
The majority of Boxing Day is spent in The White House, not with President Obama but with the rest of the Kinsale folk that want to enjoy the Boxing Day sport in the Village pub. I do like to have a go on the horses and along with Jen's father, Stephen, we had a bit of craic watching the King George at Kempton Park and the Leopardstown festival.
I managed to get a few up on Boxing Day, only to lose it again when we stopped off to watch Saturday's racing live on our way home. We spent Saturday night watching my old mate Paul Marshall and his Ulster team getting beaten by Leinster at the RDS before returning home in time on Sunday to see Hurricane Fly bring home the bacon in the Ryanair hurdle.
With all of that going on I haven't had much time to keep up with all of the cricket that has been happening. I have managed to catch the first session of most of the 4th Ashes test and only a fraction of the SA v India.
Everyone is going to have their own opinion on how England have managed to get themselves into the position they are in. Personally I believe they have been out skilled by the Australians. If you look at it, the facts are there. I see people calling for Alistair Cook's head, now I am no fan of the England Cricket team but I take two issues with that statement.
The first one, is that Cook, up until this trip has never lost a series as captain of the English Cricket team...he has captained in six. I accept that if you are an Englishman, to see your team losing 4-0 against your biggest enemy is not acceptable.
My second issue however, is who would you replace him with? To my mind no one stands out. Again I am no expert on the going's on in the changing room but from the outside looking in Alistair Cook still looks like the only stand out candidate to me.
A lot too has been made of Graeme Swann's decision to call it quits mid series, people saying that he has made a spineless decision and that it was the easy way out. Without being inside Swann's head I simply don't know how you can decide if that's why he made the call or if it was for the reasons he stated himself- The fact that he believed that the next cab off the rank should be given the opportunity with the current series already gone instead of throwing someone in at the start of a new series with everything to play for. Only Swann himself will know the real reason.
All of the above will look like I am trying to defend the English Cricket team and to an extent I guess I am but not because I am a fan. I'm from Ireland and the only International team I care about is the one I play in! I just see people judging and they are doing so from afar...with limited or no knowledge of what is really going on in the dressing room, some of whom have played at the highest level and should know better.
I don't claim to have such knowledge either, what I do know is that in any team things don't just happen. Decisions are made, plans are put in place. Should you really lose the captaincy because of one bad series loss?
Do you really deserve to be abused if in fact you made a decision that you thought was the best for the team? If this was Australia, Pakistan or India I'd be saying the same thing. Just take a step back before casting judgement.
On a different note, what a way for Jacques Kallis to leave Test match cricket. Surely one of the finest players of all time, his figures stack up with the very best. He's done it the right way, give everything for your country in all forms and then in the twilight of your careers cash in on the lucrative offers from around the world in the games' shorter formats. Congratulations on a superb career