The Story

Nothing behind me, everything ahead of me, as is ever so on the road.

I don’t like cricket

Continuing what has so far been a very sporty trip to Australia, yesterday I went to the historic Sydney Cricket Ground to see the mighty England take on the Aussie scum in the third ODI of a five match series. When we booked the tickets, which was just after that very successful home Ashes six months ago, we assumed that what we’d be attending wouldn’t be your everyday cricket match, but a whole day drinking and singing session in celebration of yet another inevitable retaining of that beautiful little urn. It’ll be one of those rare occasions where the result of what you’re watching didn’t really matter. It’ll just be a party.

Fast forward six months and that assumption ended up being so far from the reality that not attending the match heavily crossed my mind. Everyone loves the sporting rivalry between our two nations…except when gloating Aussies becomes a part of it.

I got to the stadium for when the gates opened so I could soak up as much of it as possible and try to enjoy the day as much as possible. The SCG is no Lords but it has that charm of still looking like a traditional cricket ground, whilst also having the feel of a big arena. It’s cricket history and I was proud to be there. It’s just a shame that feeling didn’t last too long.

I found my seat next to a middle aged guy from Wales who was there with his wife. Brilliant I thought, I’ll actually have someone to talk about the match with. It didn’t take long for us to both realise that given what had happened over the last two months, cricket was the last thing we wanted to talk about. We discussed why we were both on this side of the world, where we’re from, the tennis, Piers Morgan, everything except cricket. By the time the match started, we had run out of topics that we just sat watching the play in silence. The commentary radio was probably the best purchase of my trip so far.

The match couldn’t add any excitement to the day either. A heartless England performance gave Australia a score chase that didn’t warrant any aggressive batting. I’ve never understood why there’s more cricket in an Ashes tour after the main series and yesterday only reaffirmed this more. There was no atmosphere besides from the handful of those who decided to attend in fancy dress. It was obvious that the England faithful had obviously fled Australia along time ago. All the fanfare of getting the crowd to liven up by constantly getting them on the big screen felt all too fake. It felt like a baseball match. It just wasn’t cricket. Not even a six from Tim Bresnan could save the day.

I’ll always count myself lucky that I had the privilege to see England play Australia at the SCG but it’s something I’ll unfortunately remember for all the wrong reasons.

Four years ago I saw us seal our qualification for South Africa 2010 with a win against Croatia. Tonight I was there to see us do the same for next year’s tournament in Brazil with a win against Poland. As relieved as I am that we managed to make it through our group, I can’t shake off how recent that first game feels. I’m not going to lie, it’s a pretty awful feeling.

Four years ago I saw us seal our qualification for South Africa 2010 with a win against Croatia. Tonight I was there to see us do the same for next year’s tournament in Brazil with a win against Poland. As relieved as I am that we managed to make it through our group, I can’t shake off how recent that first game feels. I’m not going to lie, it’s a pretty awful feeling.

Hopefully continuing my 100% record of seeing us successfully conclude a World Cup qualification at home.

Hopefully continuing my 100% record of seeing us successfully conclude a World Cup qualification at home.

The only time I ever really feel patriotic is when walking this walk on an important match day.

The only time I ever really feel patriotic is when walking this walk on an important match day.

We might as well give the little urn a citizenship seeing as it spends so much time here. Ours again!

We might as well give the little urn a citizenship seeing as it spends so much time here. Ours again!

Say what you want about him when he’s off it, but when on a cricket pitch, there are very few who deserve more plaudits than this man.

Say what you want about him when he’s off it, but when on a cricket pitch, there are very few who deserve more plaudits than this man.

Rain

Rain is only welcome when:

  • Attempting your best Gene Kelly impression.
  • The Aussies have the hold of a Test match.

14 years

My interest in tonight’s friendly with Scotland sits somewhere between meh and… what was I talking about again?

Retaining The Ashes

I was having a conversation with a friend of mine over in the States on Monday and mentioned that “we had just retained The Ashes” in response to her asking what’s new. This obviously went on to require an explanation into what the hell retaining The Ashes actually was. Cricket is always a difficult one to explain to the unfamiliar so I quickly penned the below response and clicked send with very little thought:

"Ok, I hope you’re sitting down for this as there’s a lot to take in. Every two years ever since the late 1800’s, England play Australia in a best of five match series of cricket which is known as The Ashes. It’s known as The Ashes because the teams don’t play for a trophy, but a little urn that contains the ashes of either a burnt out cricket ball or stumps (the thing they try to knock over in cricket). 1882 was a long time ago so no one can remember which actually got put in the urn. There’s a great rivalry between us and the Aussies in any sport, but when it comes to cricket, it’s something even more special, so these series’ are known as one of the greatest contests in world sport. They’re a pretty big deal. They alternate between being played over here and in Aus. We’ve won the previous two series and right now we’re in the middle of a series being played here. We won the first two matches and Monday saw the third match ending in a draw (or tie as you people call it), so the best Australia can now do is win the remaining two matches and draw (or tie as you people call it) the series. If a series ends in a draw (or tie as you people call it), the team who won the previous series gets to keep the urn and in turn, wins The Ashes. As we’re the holders and can now not lose this series, it means we’ve now just retained The Ashes for a third time in a row, which we’re all pretty smug about right now."

It wasn’t until I went back to conversation later on that I realised my summary wasn’t actually that bad and appeared to answer the question fairly comprehensively. Who knows if this actually stuck but I may of single handedly introduced America to our wonderful game.