Was it only last year when we wrote about how enjoyable it was to watch a number 11 batsman make a record Test score? ‘Cricket at its best,’ we wrote, completely forgetting that a lurching Ashes Test makes us want to vomit until we’re right down to the lung butter.
Having cleared up the mess and taken stock, what do we now make of Ashton Agar’s noisy counter-pummel?
Well, we hate it, obviously. Not as much as when it was happening, but that’s only because in the absence of any definite ending, we were making wildly pessimistic projections and reacting to those. Many of those wild projections actually came true, so we then fell back on all our years of pessimistic experience and upped our game considerably until we were really, really, deeply unhappy.
What the hell happened?
Oh, you know, it was just one of those passages of play in an Ashes series where EVERYTHING GOES COMPLETELY TO SHIT.
With the added media scrutiny and tension from the crowd, the Ashes could almost be considered a different sport from conventional Test cricket. The physical stuff’s much the same, but the mental demands are entirely different.
Players with the perfect temperament for long, controlled innings or attritional bowling spells in front of sparse crowds can be rattled into incompetence when placed in an Ashes environment. At the same time, seemingly mediocre players can find themselves enhanced through a predisposition for fight rather than flight when they take a hit from their adrenal glands.
These changes in players can become magnified once they’re pitted against each other, but does even that explain what happened today? Maybe a little, but it’s not like England don’t have previous when it comes to this kind of thing.
Hats off to Ashton Agar?
Only briefly. We don’t want you succumbing to sun damage when there’s still so much unpredictable cricket to endure this summer.