The Wonderful Game
Just crept inside out of the sweltering heat to post a quick item for posterity about the First Ashes Test at Trent Bridge, which has just ended in a victory for England by just 14 runs. I missed the first two days of the match, and most of the third, on my travels, apart from the odd update on the internet; it seems that Germans aren’t all that interest in cricket, for some reason. Yesterday I followed the action on the radio. Gripping stuff. Of course as an Englishman I’m delighted with the victory, but the Australians showed incredible pluck in this match, recovering from 117-9 in the first innings to post 280 thanks to an amazing knock of 98 from No. 11, the nineteen-year old Ashton Agar. England began their second innings in a state of shock after Agar’s onslaught and were 11-2 at one point, but gradually clawed their way into it. Ian Bell’s century and a determined contribution from Stuart Broad took them to a total of 375, a lead of 310. I always felt that a target of 300 in the last innings would be beyond Australia, and so it proved – but only just. They fought gallantly to 296 before Haddin was given out on an umpire review. Throughout the match the initiative ebbed and flowed. No quarter was asked and none given. It was magnificent.
It wasn’t quite as close as the famous Edgbaston Ashes Test in 2005, which England won by just two runs, but it certainly had my stomach tingling, nerves churning, and metaphors mixing as the plot twisted one way then another. I couldn’t even eat my lunch. No wickets at all in the first hour, then two in quick succession, then the dramatic fightback, snuffed out by the final twist of a “not out” overturned by the third umpire.
You can say what you like about the DRS system, but it certainly adds an extra element of tension to the proceedings. The world seems to stand still as we wait for the third umpire to ponder the decision with the use of replays, hawkeye, hotspot, snickometer and the rest. One crucial factor in this Test was that Alastair Cook used his reviews much more intelligently than Michael Clarke.
I would say, though, that I think this was a game England should have won much more easily. The hapless Finn fell apart when Agar had a go at him and contributed very little to the rest of the match. With only four bowlers to start with, England can’t afford to have anyone underperform. I strongly suspect Finn will not figure in the next match, but I remain uncomfortable with the policy of picking only four bowlers. If only England had a proper all-rounder. Still, at least they’ve got Jimmy Anderson, who bowled magnificently and took ten wickets in the match.
Anyway, there are four more Tests in this series and if they’re all like this one was it will be like 2005 all over again. Except that series began with a defeat for England.
Test Cricket is the best game in the world. Discuss.Follow @telescoper