Close Ashes finishes (and why a draw after five days can be exciting)

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We’ve reached a conclusion. We’re all dead.

That’s right. Each and every one of us is dead. But we’ve not gone to heaven. Instead, we’re all stuck in purgatory working off our sins. It’s an Ashes purgatory of inevitable, unendurable tension where Tests are still in the balance right up to the last ball and that’s our punishment.

But the joke’s on whoever put us here, because purgatory’s brilliant. Who knew? Purgatory’s a bloody joy and we’ve got four more Tests of it yet.

Test cricket is the pinnacle of all sport. After five days of conflict, Australia were one ball away from victory. This situation lasted an hour or more and our hearts were vibrating more than beating.

This is the brilliance of the sport. While a close football match might feature five minutes of tension at the death, cricket gives you an hour and a half and it’s no easier to endure. The effect’s magnified by how fragile the situation is. Every delivery in cricket’s the equivalent of a shot on goal and the people who your hopes rest with are the people least qualified to do the job.

Anyone who thinks a drawn Test is boring isn’t welcome here in purgatory.


Mike Gatting wasn't receiving the King Cricket email when he dropped that ludicrously easy chance against India in 1993.


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  1. A match lasts for five days, but on each day the criteria for success can change. Yesterday, runs were for the most part irrelevant, but far from being bored, the crowd cheered every forward defensive as if it were a massive hoick into the river Taff, and every (successful) leave as if it were a sweetly timed cover drive for four. For hours. Hooray! Test cricket is the pinnacle of civilisation.

  2. Matches like these only excite and consolidate the core fan base for test cricket.

  3. The person who’s been hanging around our house for the last few years would disagree with you on that.

  4. No one can claim to know the meaning of terror until they’ve watched Monty Panesar running between the wickets.

  5. The Kiwi in my lab came in this morning describing the England as “disgraceful” and of undertaking tactics you’d expect of the Australians, but not of a civilised country. I disagreed.

  6. Good stuff KC. I enjoy few things more than watching a pair of tailenders hang on for a draw, and Colly’s serious face throughout the day, no more so than when he reached his 50, almost brought a tear to the eye.

  7. I think most people would agree that most of the match was a bore.

    But the conclusion was sublime.

    Old Trafford 2005 had a similarly sublime conclusion, although it must be said that the cricket for the other 4.75 days was of a much higher standard (batting, bowling, fielding and pitch than Cardiff 2009.

    If by some chance England go on to win the Ashes this year, make no mistake, the save at Cardiff will be seen to be absolutely pivotal.

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