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Cricket, Lovely Cricket

11 July, 2013

I know that three quarters of the world don’t understand the game of Cricket, but it is a majestic sport. The five-day game is like a chess match; in order to see who is winning one often needs to take a very long and considered view before deciding. And then two moves later, everything has changed. Sometimes nobody wins, but the side who was losing and salvaged a draw can claim a form of victory, and that psychological element of the game is central to its fascination. A test series of usually five matches will be spread over a summer, and often they are drawn too.  Imagine that – playing a sport for two months and at the end, nobody wins.

Back in 1882, Australia beat England in England for the first time, and an obituary appeared in The Time declaring the death of English cricket, and that the body was to be cremated and the ashes taken to Australia. The next time the two nations met, in 1883 Down Under, the English were presented with a six-inch tall urn containing the ashes, legend has it, of a ball and a bail. And ever since, when the two oldest cricketing nations meet, as they do every couple of years, they play for The Ashes.

The reason for this introductory lesson is that yesterday, the latest Ashes series began. England, for the first time in a generation, go into it as favourites having won the last two series, most recently destroying Australia over Christmas 2010. The first two days have been astonishingly exciting with wickets tumbling, records being set, and control of the game swinging from side to side several times each day. Who will win this match? Absolutely no idea. Who will win this series? Couldn’t tell you. Maybe nobody. Brilliant.


Meanwhile, at the very furthest opposite end of the game, two teams of amateurs met for a twenty-over game at a Leisure Centre in Hampshire. Batting number 11 and last for the home side was the player pictured here, mentally preparing himself to face a delivery for the first time in three years:

From the dozen or so balls I faced (for it was I), I scored 10. And more importantly, it was 10 not out. 10* as the records will have it, that prized asterisk declaring that no bowler, fielder or wicket keeper was able to defeat me. The match itself was a tense affair, control swinging from one side to the other several times, and the result still uncertain even as the last ball was bowled. But we held on and won by three runs.

My legs ached horribly this morning, but after my three-year break I am back. My whites bear the green grass stains of energetic fielding, and the sweat of facing past bowling and smacking it for four. I am a cricketer once more.


  1. although I still don’t understand cricket, congrats on the 10*, especially the * 🙂
    I have to say though, when I reread the first paragraph it occurred to me that if you change the word ‘cricket’ to something like ‘love’ you are left with a rather apt description of an awful lot of relationships, ‘imagine that, at the end nobody wins’ 😉
    well done and cheerio and huge gigantic yays!!!

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