Most importantly, we need a great ashes series

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A few days ago, I reached to the top of the bookshelf and took down a big yellow book

This book is The Essential Wisden, a collection of essays and competition reports from our 140 years of competition. I do this to remind myself why I like cricket, because recently few people like it in this sport.

The Yorkshire racism scandal, the huge bonuses of Tom Harrison and the European Central Bank’s board of directors, the disagreement about a hundred people; these are just a few of the many things that have weakened our love of gaming in recent months. The seemingly endless rounds of international competitions have also turned cricket into a consumer product, similar to a Big Mac meal, which can be digested quickly and easily forgotten.

Even this week Tim Paine resigned in tears, leaving a sour taste in his mouth. It is difficult to understand why the Australian cricket team thought that before appointing him as captain 3 years ago, it was acceptable to hang a person outside to dry and possibly destroy a family based on things they did not consider important.

However, despite this, we do love our sports. We like it not because of bureaucracy, commercialism, or scandal. We like it because it is a great game, a game that makes us feel that other games cannot experience it. We all need to be reminded of this at this moment. This is why the Ashes series starting tonight is very important, because all the right reasons are unforgettable.

Compared with any other competition in our sport, Ashes reminds more of good memories. Just think back to Headingly two years ago, when Ben Stokes and Jack Leach were almost as likely to win England as Ian Botham 28 years ago.
In 2005, perhaps the greatest of the series, a whole generation of English fans saw their team defeat the Australian for the first time in their lives.

In the second test in Edgbaston, England won by 2 points. It still feels like yesterday. I can still hear Rich Benoy’s comments because Steve Hamison dismissed it. With Michael Kaslovich, England won the weakest victory. “Jones… Bowden… Kasprowicz the one who is leaving”. When the camera rolls from England’s cheerful goalkeeper to referee Billy Bowden’s crooked fingers, and then back to the desperate Australian batsman, the genius of these simple words explains why Benoy is the greatest cricket commentator of all time.

In a different way, Mark Nicholas’ “Oh, hello, great!” Andrew Flintoff in a Bosham-style game early in the Brett Lee game Zhong introduced another towering six-pointer, which is equally unforgettable. That particular shot finally appeared on the roof of the comment box. On the last day of the next game, 20,000 people were blocked outside the Old Trafford Stadium because the queue for tickets seemed to be half of Manchester. Oh, one day, British cricket can once again bring such joy to the country.

From an Australian perspective, we can recall Mitchell Johnson’s ferocious bowling in the 2013-14 season, which caused one of the greatest English teams of all time to fall apart.

With the genius of Shane Warne, the beat accuracy of Glenn McGrath, and the courage of David Steele, the “bank clerk who participated in the war” faced the thunderbolt of Lillie and Thomson in his English hat and glasses. Perhaps the hope of seeing a series like 2005 is too great this time, but our sport now needs the classic Ashes series more than ever.

We need to see Ben Stokes dealing with the Australians in the same way that the great warriors Flintoff and Bothham did in the past. We need to be fascinated by the batting genius of Steve Smith and Joroot, and marvel at the skills of Jimmy Anderson and Stuart Broad. We need to see Pat Cummins grow into the kind of inspirational leader the Australian cricket team desperately needs now. As Australia continues to lift the coronavirus lockdown, we need to see the crowd celebrating in the sun. We need to see that the game is played in the right way, and neither side has given any quarters. We need to see the absence of childish abuse and masculine gestures, which have ruined many of the recent ashes.

Most importantly, we need a great series where we are all talking about inspiring events on the court, not depressing events off the court. What a refreshing change that would be.

Billy Crawford



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