Tuesday, December 05, 2006

The Ashes

No news about the job. Hhmmm. Maybe I'm too expensive. Is that a good thing or a bad thing?

I work in a male-dominated industry and today all the men were talking about the cricket, or more accurately how rubbish the England cricket team are. The Australians were trying not to look too smug but you could detect the tell-tale smirk. Someone explained it to me thus, "If it were football, it's like being seven-nil up at half time and then coming back to lose seven-eight".

Anyway, I still don't get cricket. I have had the rules explained to me about 30 times but I still can't remember them. If you are really interested, here is a link explaining all the rules. Too complicated for me. (Don't tell me its like baseball or rounders, I don't understand how they work either)

It seems to me that cricket is an excuse to stay out in the sun all day and drink lots of beer. I mean, come on, most of time the game ends in a draw and you can never tell who is winning until the end. (Not strictly true, if one team completely "collapses" like England did today)

Cricket is in the news because The Ashes is on in Australia. The Ashes is a test cricket series, with Australia and England playing 5 test matches. It is held (roughly) every two years, alternating between England and Australia. A "test" cricket match is played between two teams over 5 days, with about 6 hours of play per day. And that is just about all I know about cricket.

"The Ashes" is an interesting name for a sporting event, don't you think? When the Australian cricket team beat England in England for the first time in 1882, The Sporting Times printed a spoof obituary:

"In Affectionate Remembrance of ENGLISH CRICKET, which died at the Oval on 29th AUGUST, 1882, Deeply lamented by a large circle of sorrowing friends and acquaintances R.I.P.
N.B. — The body will be cremated and the ashes taken to Australia."

The media (yes, they had "media" back then!) seized this, and the next tour of the England cricket team to Australia was dubbed "the quest to regain The Ashes of English cricket".

The Ashes are represented by an urn, which as the story goes, was presented to the Hon Ivo Bligh, captain of the England cricket team during the 1882-1883 tour, by a group of women. The urn is said to contain the ashes of a cricket bail, but there is some discussion about this - you can read more here. (The bails are the cross-pieces which sit on top of the stumps)

What this really means is - lots of men checking the BBC Sport website all day to see how England is doing. If England do well, all the newspapers will be full of glowing reports, ministers will make speeches about sport in schools, the Olympics are bound to be a success, house prices will rise, the angle of the Earth will change so that England gets more sunshine.......OK OK I'm exaggerating. But the converse is true too. If England gets trashed, then this country "has gone down the toilet, the NHS is on its last legs and my god, the situation with immigration is completely out of control." So for the sake of racial harmony and peace across middle class dining tables everywhere, good luck England!!

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