Bob Simpson—the patron saint of comebacks. Source: Daily Mirror
Hello, there. It’s been a bit. And a lot has happened.
A year ago, I somehow tricked the great minds at Wisden into publishing an essay I wrote. Even more ridiculous, I convinced myself into flying across the Atlantic and attending the release event of the 2016 edition of the Almanack. The ridiculous became the surreal when, at said event, I managed to sweet talk an MCC member into taking me up to the vaunted Pavilion—a domain few Americans have tread.
It was one of the most remarkable nights I’ve experienced.
Filed under history, Test
Few people would have picked November 21st, 1999 as the moment that would launch the career of one of Australia’s greatest ever cricketers. The Aussies were in danger on day four during their second innings when attempting to chase Pakistan’s total of 369. Mark Waugh and Ricky Ponting both were out for a duck while Steve Waugh had managed just 28 before being bowled and caught by Saqlain Mushtaq.
The Australians were sitting at 126/5 when Adam Gilchrist in his second ever Test entered as the seventh batsman across from Justin Langer late on the fourth day. Impressive on its own, the pair survived to stumps with Langer 52* and Gilly 45* against a Pakistan bowling quartet featuring Wasim Akram, Shoaib Akhtar, Waqar Younis and Saqlain Mushtaq.
On day five, with a steadiness and determination that defined his career, Gilchrist chipped away at Pakistan’s lead while fending off the fierce bowling attack. Reaching 50*, then 100* as Pakistan’s total came closer into sight. To cap off one of the greatest centuries and gutsy performances, Gilchrist clipped a boundary to win the match for Australia. Richie Benaud summed the moment up perfectly as the Australian side celebrated on the pitch calling it “one of the finest victories I think I’ve ever seen in Test cricket.”
Take a moment to enjoy Adam Gilchrist’s batting display which sparked an incredible Test career.
In a series thus far defined by the unpredictable, it’s only fitting that—despite suffering a humiliating loss in Edgbaston—Australia enter the fourth Test as favorites. To someone following the series from afar, knowing England are up two matches to one—and on home soil to boot—such odds may seem baffling. Yet, for those who have been following ball by ball, such an off-kilter prediction seems based in the purest of logic. The sole predictable trait of this Ashes series has been its sheer erraticism: A crushing defeat or stunning victory in one match has offered little to no insight into the following Test’s outcome. If Nietzsche killed god, than these Ashes have laid the myth of sporting momentum in its grave. In short, every possible outcome is in play at Trent Bridge—which is exactly why this has been such a magnificent series.
Filed under Test, The Ashes
As the Ashes moves on to the third Test there is certainly no lack of headlines and talking points. Although the players got an extra day of rest following Australia’s thoroughly dominating victory at Lord’s, the same cannot be said for the media who have written or talked about every way to fix English cricket since Sunday. To be honest, most didn’t wait that long and some merely never stopped since the World Cup.
For all the stories, many of them non-stories, the Ashes carnival picked up its tent stakes and moved north this week from London to Birmingham with the series not over and done, but actually level at one all. Sure, there is no denying that England were absolutely walloped at Lord’s. They couldn’t bowl and when they went to bat, well they couldn’t do much of that either. Australia from the top to the bottom defeated the hosts in every facet of the great game. And now it is merely history. Edgbaston awaits and gives both teams the opportunity to take a firm grasp on securing the urn.
As the old cliché goes: strong Yorkshire, strong England. But on the opening day of the 2015 Ashes, those in attendance at Sophia Gardens were reminded that every tired maxim contains at least a kernel of truth. After a shaky opening that saw England fall to 43 for three after just 14 overs, Yorkshire’s own Gary Ballance and Joe Root stabilized the home side and led a spirited fightback on a slow, plodding pitch, putting England ahead of Australia going into the second day.
Leading up to a series such as the Ashes, simplistic, often misleading narratives abound. However, in the opening session, the match followed the media-industrial complex’s script to a T. Alastair Cook, Adam Lyth, and Ian Bell—all considered enigmas to varying degrees—combined for a meager sum of just 27 runs. English supporters, at first replete with optimism after their side’s swashbuckling performance in the ODI series against New Zealand, grew nervous. For England, the match needed saving.
“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?
Filed under Test, The Ashes
If you are feeling a bit of ODI withdrawal following the end of the World Cup, take a few minutes to watch the final 18 balls from the famous 438 Match at Wanderers on March 12th 2006. What an amazing match and an incredible run chase. ODI cricket at its absolute finest.