Archive for December 29, 2010

The Ashes Retained

Posted in Cricket, Poetry with tags , , , , , , on December 29, 2010 by telescoper

I couldn’t resist a short post to mark the success of England’s cricketers down under in successfully retaining The Ashes. After getting themselves comprehensively thrashed in the Third Test of the Ashes series in Perth, to tie the level the series 1-1 (with one match drawn), the pressure was on when the Fourth Test started on Boxing Day in Melbourne. However, it all seemed to get to the Australians more than the English: Australia were dismissed for a paltry 98 after being put into bat by England captain Andrew Strauss who won the toss. England finished the day on 157 without loss, with defeat for Australia already probable at stumps on the opening day. England batted all the second day and a bit of the third, amassing 513 all out, and then had Australia 169 for 6 at the end of Day Three. Although the last few Australian batsmen showed a bit of spirit on Day Four, they were eventually all out for 258, leaving England the victors by an innings and 157 runs, their second innings victory of the series.

Now they are 2-1 up in the series with one Test to play (at Sydney), which means they can’t lose the series and therefore keep the Ashes, which they won in England last year (2009). I hope England keep their focus and go on to win at Sydney too. I’d like to see them win the series outright. Incidentally, if I’ve done my sums right, Australia have now won 123 Ashes tests since the first in 1882, to England’s 99, so if England can win in Sydney it will be their 100th.

My Australian friends and colleagues will be wincing at this outcome, but although England have proved worthy winners this time I’m sure Australia will be back to winning ways before too long. As an English cricket fan, I’ve endured enough disappointments to make this victory especially sweet. I dare say when the Australians do reclaim the Ashes at some point in the future their supporters will feel the same. As it is in life, so it is in cricket – the good times make the bad times worth enduring.

I thought I’d mark this very special occasion with a poem called Brahma by Andrew Lang. It’s a clever parody of a poem by Ralph Waldo Emerson, and the reference to Hinduism seems to fit with the theme of a cyclic universe of sporting success and failure.

If the wild bowler thinks he bowls,
Or if the batsman thinks he’s bowled,
They know not, poor misguided souls,
They too shall perish unconsoled.

I am the batsman and the bat,
I am the bowler and the ball,
The umpire, the pavilion cat,
The roller, pitch, and stumps, and all.