Wait until next year

Putting off what could be done tomorrow, today

Category: cricket

Sleeping with Geoffrey Boycott

Sydney, Ashes series in Australia, 2011So, England win the Ashes! In Australia! Winning by an innings on three separate occasions! This is indeed English cricketing heaven. If you want a great overview of England’s dominance of Australia, then do read blogoholic Tim’s fine Ashes in Numbers post. If, after that, you want to read me rambling on about it, then read on! Read the rest of this entry »

2010 Anti-List (Part Two)

Weird santa on old record coverOh, Christmas has come early for you lucky readers, hasn’t it? After the all-round excitement of yesterday’s Part One of the 2010 Anti-List, here comes the second and final part. Here’s some other stuff I’ve liked this year. Enjoy! Read the rest of this entry »

Kevin Howells: An unlikely and unheralded Ashes hero

The AshesSo, the good people of England are very excited that their cricket team is actually doing really rather well. For English cricket fans, it doesn’t get a whole lot better than trouncing the Australians in their own backyard. After two games of a five game series, England are 1-0 up (the first Test was a draw), and *whisper it* look like they just might be strong enough to win their first Ashes series in Australia since 1986/7. Read the rest of this entry »

Random badly-organised sporting thoughts for a Monday


Ready to (metaphorically) step inside my sporting head again? Here goes…

England win the World Cup!

Well, the Twenty20 World Cup, anyway. I listened to the game on the radio, most enjoyable, but made me realise a few things. Read the rest of this entry »

Winning isn’t everything – Cricket and the beauty of the draw in sport

England’s nail-biting draw with South Africa yesterday reminded me of how much poorer cricket would be as a sport if it was purely based on wins and losses. Cricket is an idiosyncratic sport, and it is hard for an outsider to to appreciate how a game can last five days, with a draw being a good result. But I think yesterday’s game showed how.

By the last day of play England had only the remotest chance of winning. If a draw wasn’t an option in cricket, the final day would have been incredibly dull and frankly pointless. Instead, it provided incredible drama and the stage for some genuine sporting heroics. This was a stoic, resolute rearguard action. There was something incredibly noble in batsmen heading to the crease knowing they cannot possibly win, but determined to not lose.

Paul Collingwood is the king of this scenario. He is the kind of batsman who has the character to bed in and bat for hour after hour, repelling whatever the opposition has to throw at him.

The oft-maligned Ian Bell accompanied him, who up to that point had never really displayed the mental toughness to match his innate ability. Yesterday, he put in a watershed innings. He was no longer the batsman who throws his wicket away with a lapse in concentration or technique. This time he would stand firm.

As hours passed, the draw looked more and more likely, but things are never that simple for England, are they? Yet again, a mini-collapse led to a dramatic final phase. England were down to their last wicket. One more out and South Africa would win.

Graeme Swann (my current cricketing Man Crush, for those keeping score) and Graham Onions somehow held out against South Africa’s fierce fast bowling. Onions faced the final over, and for the second time this series survived. Twice England’s worst batsman has been called upon to salvage the game. Twice he has answered that call successfully, bravely and calmly.

Despite only managing to follow the game over the internet (damn work!) this was still a gripping, intense finale. Waiting for a webpage to reload has never engendered such nerves. The draw was finally secured, and England live to fight another day.

I think yesterday’s game really shows how other sports that forego the draw are missing out. A draw can mean as much as a victory, as it did for England, or a defeat, as perhaps it did for South Africa, who had clearly been the better side over the five days. Fighting for the draw did not require a swashbuckling effort or a brief flash of uncommon skill. It required character, determination and patience. Sport would be poorer for lacking those qualities.

‘Sudden death’ or similar was not needed to make the game compelling. And maybe this particular narrative was more intriguing, engrossing, complex and satisfying than just a simple win and loss.

Photo by vagawi via Flickr