A Glorious Summer of Cricket
Graham delights in the summer of an Ashes victory
Well, the finest, most gripping cricket Test Series has finally been completed with England the victors. The middle three matches were absolute nail-biters with the final Test looking to be the same at 2.50pm on the final day. However, a heroic innings by Kevin Pietersen plus an equally valuable one by Ashley Giles steered England through to enable us to regain the Ashes after eighteen years.
The standard of cricket throughout the series was of the highest level. I have never seen the game played harder and I hope converted viewers now appreciate what a tough game cricket is, not only mentally but physically as well. Despite that, there was no animosity between the sides, just huge respect and, eventually, great camaraderie. Despite disappointments on both sides due to questionable umpiring decisions, there was no lack of discipline, a lesson that footballers should pay heed to.
The most encouraging side-effect of the series has been the surge of interest in the game by children. I hope that this is carried on over the next year but two things concern me. One is that the fifth Test signalled the end of the season, thus leaving a rather flat void, and the other is total loss to the sport of terrestrial television for the next four years. Sky is not to blame for this but I feel that the government should have intervened at some point to ensure that some cricket, even highlights, (I do know that Channel 5 have a half-hour slot but the station is not available in many parts of the country) were available on some free-to-air channel. I hope that eventually there will be some action on this - in Australia they cannot believe it.
Meanwhile, let's look forward to the next few years of international cricket from and English point of view knowing that we have the best side in the world.