It took a while for this cricketing summer to begin and now we don't want it to end
By Sue Mott
It has been quite simply the greatest costume drama, the greatest reality television and the greatest whodunit witnessed on our screens. Dr Who's Daleks were pretty scary but they didn't make grown men retreat behind the sofa for an entire afternoon. All you could hear beyond the chintz in normally sane households was the clink of beer cans and gibbering.
Cricket, wonderful, glorious, nerve-racking cricket, has truly come of age. Demanding of intellect and redolent of theatre, this Ashes series has provided the most riveting sporting spectacle of the new century. Add to that the best loved, most charismatic villain since Darth Vader in Aussie spin bowler Shane Warne and you have the ingredients that have left us all drained and spellbound simultaneously…
Strange days indeed.
As someone who has sat with pathetic loyalty and infinite weary patience through virtually every ball bowled in the two bleak, agonising decades since England last won the Ashes (including the desperate years when Blighty was officially ranked worst Test nation on the planet), these halcyon days of Aussie-thrashing and world-beating mean a heck of a lot.
So much in fact, that I don’t even bear any resentment to the hordes of Johnny-come-lately cricket 'fans' who have inevitably jumped on the rollicking bandwagon at the sniff of a bit of English sporting success (see also Rugby World Cup triumph, Henmania, Euro 96, Redgrave and Pinsent etc).
There is no doubt that in terms of drama, this series is already the greatest in the 128 year history of Ashes competition. It’s also clear that, after three excruciatingly close finishes in succession – which, for once, England have had the better of – there really is no sport to touch cricket when it comes to sustained tension.
The greatest cricket series ever, coming in the same summer as the greatest comeback in football history in Istanbul, with English teams triumphing all round. These are strange and wonderful days. Let’s cherish them, and buy up all the DVDs.
They’ll keep us warm when the bleak, agonising decades come round again, as they surely must.