So as I type, there are TWLEVE DAYS TO GO! I am really excited about this year’s Ashes, for a number of reasons. Firstly, it genuinely seems like quite a while since the last series, which didn’t happen last time because of the World Cup-led rescheduling that saw about 15 Ashes tests played in about 7 weeks.
Now, both teams have gone through genuine changes and the challenges should be real: not real as in us being spanked because we’re terrible (although we might be!) but real as in ‘we should be able to contest it, so if we do, great, and if we don’t, well we can be genuinely aggrieved, which is far preferable to losing just because we’ve got a team of young pups and they’ve got a team of cigar-drawling old timers like something from a black and white movie’.
I think what it boils down to is that for so many cricket fans, our lives are measured in Ashes series. We can trace the developments in our lives through these repeated contests, and they help us to give shape and context to our time here.
Eleven years ago I saw the whole sorry spectacle Down Under, and then I loved watching 2010-11 in the middle of the night, in my first ‘real life grown up’ flat in my first year as a teacher. There was a complex schedule for watching as much as humanly possible live, when also working all day, and it involved about 4 ‘breakfasts’ overnight every night.
The 2013-14 whitewash was an entirely different story. Recently married, we honeymooned in India instead of witnessing another car crash whitewash first hand in Australia. The only passage of play I remember watching live was Ben Stokes giving it a good go at Sydney, top scoring for England with a defiant 47. Who would have thought this series would be played without him?
This time around, it’s the full grown up house, with a wall-mounted TV and a more responsible job to go with it. I’m really looking forward to the living room camp-outs, staying up as late as possible, before retreating to bed with TMS playing through the night, then the 5am wake up that seems so reasonable when there’s cricket on, yet so heinous in any other circumstance.
I’m absolutely gutted for Steven Finn, undoubtedly one of the nicest guys in cricket, and not set on fire by our warm up performances so far, though there are encouraging signs. But I can’t wait!