Leeds

England win by 3 wickets.

The Ashes were on the line.

Head on the block!

More Newky Brown Ale Moments than Champagne Moments in this one. Lessons in Woodwork.

What a treat it was to watch Day 2 with Yorkie Roberto.

The two Yorkies who took centre stage at the start of Day 2 (Root and Bairstow) didn’t push on, and we saw 6 England wickets fall although the Aussies were seriously held up with yet more Stokes Fireworks. Subsequently 4 Aussie wickets fell including Moeen Ali picking up Smudge for 2.

It was an incredibly fun trip up to Leeds and the ground was bathed in sunshine.

Day 3 was a different story with incessant rain but those spectators that were patient were treated to late Aussie wickets. England were set 251.

Perhaps it was fate that I had a Sunday Lunch in the New Forest and could only sporadically dip into the score. It was certainly better for my stress levels.

What a Series.

To Manchester.

Lords

Between this …… (after inserting Aussies on the first morning)

and this …. (last afternoon whizz bang fireworks)

there were so many little (and big) tales.

It was a joy to follow.

It was a joy to catch up with Fred.

…and it was a joy to take Dad.

The Brightside Ground, Bristol. Gloucestershire v Sussex Sharks. Vitality Blast.

Sussex have some big guns in their squad but they are either too busy getting over injuries or preparing for the Ashes. No matter, Sussex still strolled past Glos. Although the cricket was one sided, what a joy to catch up with old friends.

Sussex Sharks won the toss and inserted Glos. Why have Gloucestershire not got a name? The Gloucestershire Glockenspiels. Catchy? The team seems to be struggling a little. Perhaps it needs a lick of PR chrome.

Jo’burg born Roelofsen scored a handy 41 and apart from a useful 31 run 10th wicket partnership there were precious few other contributions. Karvelas and Shadab each took 4 wickets. Glos posted 140 off 19.2 overs. Never enough.

Outside the gates where WG is commemorated.

The Sharks went in to bat and knocked off the runs in 13.2 overs. Ward got a 50.

A lateral conversion on the Penthouses?

Cracking Evening.

Dr William Gilbert Grace.

The Closest contest was saved for the After Party.

The Ashes Day 5 Edgbaston

No repeat of 2005, but a very very good game.

Ponting was safe in the commentary box this time.

In terms of time – the distance between now and ’05 is the same as ’05 and 86/87 and for cricket fans that’ll have some meaning. If only to make us feel a little older and realise “we are” entering another era in which “we” become the Statesmen, like it or not.

In ’05 I was backpacking my way down America’s West Coast and the communal computer in the hostel I was staying in was only sporadically available. Suffice to say when I did get use of the internet I searched for the scorecard, did the Maths, took in a bit of West Coast Culture and returned to watch the figures move in the favour of Flintoff and co. No cricket fans handy to celebrate with that day but a wide smile on my face.

It wasn’t to be yesterday.

Rain delayed the start. I finally managed to do something other than follow cricket for a few hours, and was pretty productive.

Aussies played the long game. England had to really toil hard. Khawaja was utterly brilliant until Stokes pulled a rabbit out the hat and got him to play on.

But hats off to Cummins. Captain, Bowler and 40 essential runs at the end. Aussies win by 2 wickets. It could not have been much tighter. To Lords.

The Long Walk Back

This two man play written by Dougie Blaxman totally passed me by but I fairly recently found out about it, very recently bought it online and read it over the past few days.

In a demonstration of how life truly can be stranger than fiction it refers to the desperate attempt former England all rounder Chris Lewis went to in order to make some money – namely smuggling 7 lbs of cocaine from St Lucia to London.

Much of the play is set in the prison cells that Chris Lewis is sentenced to spend time in. The dialogue deals with his coming to terms with responsibility, greed and gross miscalculations.

There are some great recounts of bowling out Javed Miandad in 1992, and notably taking advice from Sir Vivian Richards. I’d like to have seen it on stage and more conversations of this ilk would have been welcome.

The playwright Dougie Blaxland is a nom de plume. James Graham-Brown has worn many hats ~ a professional cricketer having played for Kent, Derbyshire, Dorset and Cornwall, who turned his hand to Schoolteaching. Graham-Brown is no stranger to writing scripts about Cricketers. Below is a clip I found on Youtube which is a one man play about a man called Colin Milburn who played alongside Jim Laker and was a force of a man in the Summer on the cricket field but booze got the better of him in the Winters. When he lost sight in one eye he still apparently had a certain joie de vivre.

The Ashes Day 4 Edgbaston

The bottom line is that Day 5 has been cued up with the potential to be an all time classic.

England need 7 wickets, Australia require 174 runs. Don’t miss an over.

Listening to Tuffers and Aggers on TMS as JR attempted to ‘reverse ramp’ the first ball of the day, which fatefully just sailed over the top off middle, it was amusing to hear Agnew wishing to be teleported to sitting next to Boycs watching the match on his telly in Yorkshire.

Two scores of 46. Brook and Root. JR never out to a stumping in Tests before. As Vaughan mentioned, embrace Bazball but just be a bit careful.

Broad bowled beautifully in the evening session. Mooen’s finger is a worry for the final day but hopefully he’ll soldier through.

The Ashes Day 3 Edgbaston

Ten minutes before the start of play I was quietly wondering what Day 3 might have in store when my humble services were called upon to raise a mast and launch a boat. It was a true delight to return to shore to find out that the first session had gone so well. We had polished off the remaining 5 wickets, including that of the danger man Khawaja.

Two words : Umbrella field.

Keep ’em guessing. Get in their heads. Psychology.

A lead of 7. What a contest.

After a couple of evening beers I caught some of the highlights and Jonathan Agnew describing the weather in Birmingham as something more often seen in ‘The United States of America’. Naturally the Aussies cashed in under very heavy ‘tornado’ skies. Openers gone, but a lead in the thirties.

All to play for.

The Ashes Day 2 Edgbaston

Huddled over the Radio with Dad and Nephew on the beach listening to commentary on Broad steam in to deliver the hat-trick ball to Steve Smith was a golden moment. Sadly it went down leg.

We played our own game of beach cricket after some boules and a bracing swim and rejoiced as Stokes trapped Smith LBW.

Then ‘View from the boundary’ with none other than Mark Little who played the wild Joe Mangel in the Aussie soap ‘Neighbours’ in the early 1990s. My sister was suddenly buying in to TMS. Inspired scheduling.

Graft into the afternoon session, and a couple of costly mistakes. Ultra gutting was watching Broad (with the new ball) clean bowl Khawaja only to find out that he’s overstepped the popping crease by millimetres. Listened to Moeen get tonked about a bit whilst practicing some table tennis but the tactics ‘bought’ a wicket in the end. Aussies looking dangerous. But then when aren’t they? Still well poised. 311-5.

The Ashes Day 1 2023 Edgbaston

A treat to watch much of this days play on TV (laptop) sat beside Dad. Stokes won the toss and elected to bat. 393-8 dec, with a few overs at Warner and Khawaja before the day was out.

Much talk of the Hollies stand. Eric Hollies most famous 1 minute was when he dismissed Sir Donald Bradman for a duck denying him of those four runs, sentencing him to those fateful figures 99.96.

Zac Crawley played majestically for a Highway 61. His first shot of the tournament set the tone for the highly anticipated series – a crunching off drive to the boundary.

Commentators talking of the pitch’s benign characteristic.

A faint glove. Aussies took the first session.

Heart in mouth. A tight contest for the afternoon session. The Yorkies came through. Bairstow 78. Root unbeaten at declaration with a magnificent ton.

Very well set up for the Saturday crowd on Day 2.

Summer starts

Josh Tongue had a good debut against Ireland. At one point it was ‘Tongue to Stirling’ which had a reverse Anglo-Irish irony. Lords looked very beautiful on the Telly. The highlights of Pope and Duckett sharing a massive partnership were very special. A 10 wicket victory is as convincing as it gets. Here’s to the Ashes.