“There is a distinct difference between suspense and surprise, and yet many pictures continually confuse the two.” – Alfred Hitchcock
Hitchcock may have been discussing the finer points of filmmaking, but he could have just as easily been talking about sport—an endeavor defined by soul crushing anxiety. Yet, of its innumerable permutations, perhaps no sport is better representative of terror in its most distilled form than cricket. And considering that one of Hitchcock’s films uses the 1938 Ashes as a major plot point, who’s to say he wasn’t acutely aware of this fact?
The 2015 Ashes series is upon us—a suspense-filled Hitchcockian blockbuster in its own right. There have already been innumerable prognostications, some based in the logic of statistical analysis, others in the specious realm of platitudes and truisms. If we’re lucky—as the finest sporting events tend to defy prediction—hopefully all will be proven inaccurate (including this one).
My own misguided guess? A series draw—one match each—resulting in the Australians retaining the tiny titular urn. However, I have little desire to act as a 21st-century cricketing haruspex. I welcome being wildly wrong. As a true neutral, the only result I desire is for the suspense, the fear, and the failure to ultimately beget a sporting memory to remember—a moment akin to the final twist in one of Hitchcock’s greatest films.
Cricket’s biggest stage is set. The key actors are in place. The crowd waits in anticipation. The suspense has reached a crescendo. Action.