With England’s brave Lionesses falling in the semi finals of the World Cup, the sporting world now turns its gaze to the cricket field as Joe Root leads England’s latest attempt to regain the greatest cricketing prize of all. The Ashes.
My interest and enjoyment of Test Cricket was really first sparked in the summer of 2005. My parents were both going to be at work for three weeks of the summer holidays so my cousin was basically employed as our nanny for three weeks (thanks Kaz!) And the telly would be on all day, stuck on Channel 4 as I, along with most of England, became completely entranced by what was happening at Lords, Edgbaston, Old Trafford, Trent Bridge and the Oval over those two months. As everyone will tell you, that was quite possibly the greatest Ashes series ever. It broke nearly 20 years of Australian domination and brought new fans into the sport. Since then the urn has changed hands regularly. In fact only England have won the Ashes in consecutive series in the years since 2005 and Joe Root will hope that record holds as he looks forward to his first Ashes series on home soil as captain.
What England will hope for is a much improved performance from the last tour down under where they were whitewashed. Whether Root can get the best out of the bowling attack will be of vital importance. While James Anderson and Stuart Broad will be called on again as they have been for nearly 20 years, the likes of Mark Wood, Moeen Ali, Ben Stokes etc. will be keen to show their abilities and go about the task of taking 20 Aussie wickets in each Test. Whether the opening batsmen can get starts and get the ball rolling will be vitally important. The middle and lower order will also need to carry on whatever start the top order can get, something they failed to do in Australia last year. The wickets are more to the liking of the English bowlers as well, rather than being hard, quick and bouncy, they are more suited to swing, especially with such experts in the side like Anderson and Broad. They will have to use that to their advantage to keep Australia’s scoring low.
One of the things that I enjoy about test match cricket is that it takes place over five days. You can see fortunes turn and swing and that is something unique to test match cricket. It’s like a game of chess where you have to have to counter your opponent’s moves, defend well and attack when the time is right. It is slow paced, moments happen after 20 minutes of build-up. A good batting display that may have lasted four hours can usually be condensed into 10 minutes of the boundaries in that innings. The highlights of an entire day’s play can be put into a 30 minute package. But that is something I really enjoy, because what other sport does that? A game of football is finished in 90 minutes, rugby in 80 minutes, a 100 metre sprint race is over in less than 10 seconds. TO have something play out over a week for a single match is rare in our hyperspeed world of quick connections and temporary satisfaction it’s nice to actually kick back, unwind and watch a game that is slow and considered and takes its time to reach its conclusion. I like that.
The Ashes is the greatest cricketing competition in the world. The rivalry will spark up again on 1st August at Edgbaston and I cannot wait.