But it's the hope that hurts...
Last time I wrote on this news feed, England were getting absolutely hammered by the Australians. On my birthday - my birthday! - England had capitulated to a frankly embarrassing 67 all out. The following day, the Australians opened up a lead that began to feel insulting at times. But, come the fourth innings, wickets did not fall at the frequent rate they had done, Root and Denly set it up for the last day, and then - with apologies for the fact that clearly this content is not licensed and is just some bloke filming the TV with his phone - this.
The funny thing about this one is that I was checking the score, moaning about how we were going to lose. I think there's a particular type of psychology about being an England fan that leads to this. If we expect to lose, it hurts less when we do. That's why this one was so exciting. It might even be better than the Edgbaston 2005 one. Just as with that one, there was a massive wrong umpiring decision in England's favour just before the match finished. Stokes was LBW - although to the naked eye, it did look like it might be going down leg - with a couple still to get. Kasprowicz's hand wasn't on the bat handle. The rules say he wasn't out. But Bowden's finger went up, and England collectively lost it.
Then, I was watching the cricket on Channel 4. Now (as in, on Sunday afternoon), I was following on the BBC website. And I genuinely think it is sad that you can't watch the (test) cricket live on free-to-air TV, and I honestly think we would do better as a test-playing nation if we put it back on, at least in a few years' time. But it still has that same chest-tightening brilliance, even on the highlights.
Those moments are few, taken over a whole life. Maybe the offer letter or A level results opening, maybe the birth of a child, maybe the touch of that one person's hand... You couldn't handle one of these a day. It would just be too stressful, because these moments can only come with fear of failure, if they are to mean anything. There has to be the possibility that the hope will not be realised. That's why being Australian (over my lifetime, at least) must have been less fulfilling. They expect to win, and if you read Glenn McGrath's writing, they pretty much expect to win 5-0. That's why beating them (even if it's only one time in four) is worth the defeats.
And I have tried - and in some cases, even felt like I might have made some inroads into - putting these moments into my writing. The quotation from Fleabag on the right of this page is an example of a moment that someone else gave to me, as often are the song lyrics that adorn the landing page of this site. That's the goal, seeing as how the likelihood of selling enough books to make a living is so remote as to be negligible. I hope that for some of those who have read the books, that comes across. And if you haven't read the books...?
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