Thursday, 12 November 2009

Poor People To Watch Ashes Again

In 2005, I was one of the multitude that followed the Ashes with the fervor which that series seemed to somehow magically inspire in almost everyone I knew. I remember the morning of the 4th Test at Trent Bridge, watching it and having to leave to get to work, and thinking how when I got out of the other end of the tube journey, England will have lost, and the summer would end up the same as every other Ashes summer I had known.
I got off the tube at Leicester Square, and started to walk to the shop. My mobile rang. It was my girlfriend, and she was describing something that I could only have dreamed up.
She was describing Steve Harmison's final wicket, and I could not believe what she was telling me. I made sure she had it all right. Harmy was bowling, right? Yes, Will. He didn't take the catch, no? No. Definitely? Definitely. I got to work and went to the BBC site, and there it was...

MS Kasprowicz c† GO Jones b SJ Harmison 19 (30)

I could not believe it had ended like that, and I had not watched it.

I was reminded of that morning today, when it was announced that the Ashes could be protected as a free-to-air event from 2013. That summer, everyone knew who Freddie was. It felt so wholesome having this monument to the drama and theatre of sport available to everyone. EVERYONE. It was an absolute and joyous rejection of football and Sky and the cynicism of that horrible money drenched den.

Sport is the greatest literature there is, it reflects the nobility, desperation, pain and joy that is the very crux of the human condition in a way that no art ever could. It's visceral and exhilarating, and the more of these generation-defining moments everyone can see, the better, surely?