I fulfilled a boyhood ambition yesterday when I attended the final Test match of this current Ashes series between England and Australia at the Kennington Oval in London, now known as the Brit Oval. (It’s important to be precise because I mentioned to a friend that I was looking forward to going to the Oval on Saturday and they said, “I didn’t know that you were a Glens supporter”!) It was a very special day out for me, and one that I thoroughly enjoyed, thanks to my good friend, George, who made it all possible.
The rivalry between England and Australia for the Ashes is well-documented as two teams battle it out for what is simultaneously the biggest prize in cricket and the smallest trophy. It all goes back to 1882 when the Ashes urn had its origins. In that year, England lost to Australia by seven runs and the result enveloped the nation in such gloom that a mock obituary of English cricket was published in the Sporting Times. It was the birth of the Ashes.
Everyone has their favourite Ashes moment. The Ashes series was in 1981 is a favourite of mine when Ian Botham’s batting and bowling were more Australian than the Australians. It was also unforgettable because it was the summer my first daughter was born. Many will remember Shane Warne’s first ball which bowled Mike Gatting in 1993 or Kevin Pietersens’s century at the Oval in 2005 to clinch the draw for England. It has always been a great encounter.
What I loved about yesterday was not only England’s domination of the Australian bowling and Jonathan Trott’s century as a debutante, but the fact that it all took place in the most pleasant temperature and with long sunny spells. It was idyllic. The banter from the crowd was good-humoured, especially when an Australian fielder came down to our section of the boundary rope. It was a great day out.