Headingley 2019 unwatched – a kind of match report

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We always enjoy a tale of trying to follow the cricket without actually watching the cricket. Today, day four of the 2019 Headingley Ashes Test…

Sam writes:

The following is a true story.

I removed my headphones, dusted down my grass-stained trousers and skipped giddily back to the car, children in tow. My heart was still racing. Palms still sweaty. Ears still ringing.

We had been out for the day, buying new shoes for small feet and pottering around town. No need to pay too much attention to the cricket. It was basically all over anyway.

Things like this just don’t happen. 67 all out in the first innings, then chasing 359 in the second? In your dreams.

Our shopping trip concluded as the final wicket partnership began, so we sat on the grass eating ice lollies and thinking about what to have for dinner. I edged further and further away from my family as the tension grew unbearable.

You know the story. The reverse sweeps. The missed run-out. The plum LBW with no reviews. The ‘It’s six or out…it’s six!’ The forehand smash through the covers to win, puncturing a hole in the fabric of time just big enough to glimpse another miracle, sepia toned armpits and all, 38 years earlier.

Wrestling with booster seats is a nightmare at the best of times. But clunk, click, one, two, three, everyone’s in.

Key in the ignition. I rub my eyes; it wasn’t a dream. Let’s go home. We might catch the highlights. 
Hang on a second. What’s that coach doing?

Reversing, that’s what. Reversing towards us. Picking up speed. Showing no signs of stopping. 
Beep the horn. Beep it again. Eventually he gets the message.

I get out and start towards the coach driver. He is a man. A big man. A big man with not much hair.
Heart still racing. Palms still sweaty.

‘Whatyouthinkyoudoing?’ or some other such adrenaline-fuelled blauchmange came out of my mouth. I pointed at my bemused family in the car, then back at the gap between our vehicles.

Eventually, beginning to realise that I might be on the verge of causing a scene, I held up my hands in the international gesture for ‘please don’t hit me’ and retreated.

I laughed manically to myself all the way home. Palms still sweaty, heart still racing. 

Further reading: What Ben Stokes, Jack Leach and Headingley 2019 tell us about Test cricket

Send your match reports to king@kingcricket.co.uk. We’re only interested in what it was like to be at the game, so if it’s a professional match, on no account mention the cricket itself. Equally, if it’s an amateur match, please go into excruciating detail.


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  1. It wouldn’t have been too hard to avoid watching the cricket on the fifth day of the test as it had finished the day before.

    My brother’s friends had tickets for several days of the match including the fourth but decided to skip what turned out to be the final day and head home instead. They listened to the denouement in their car and I can only imagine what they must have been feeling as it all unfolded…

  2. Nice piece, Sam. Really “felt” it, particularly the lorry-horror. Still trying to figure out “blauchmange “. If it were Bert or Ged writing I would be 90% sure it would constitute a subtle medieval, multilingual or multilingual pun that I was failing to grasp. But in this case I’m genuinely unsure.

    Sad to hear about David Capel. Do rather feel he was underrated in Top Trumps.

    1. I think ‘blauchmange’ was probably a typo. But I’ll happily claim it as a new word if the Oxford English Dictionary is interested.

      1. Blauchmange is quite an apt word to sum up the effect of Headingley 2019 on most of those who went through it.

  3. I was listening on the radio as the tension had got so much that I had to go for a walk.

    I visited the ‘Cricket World Cup’ postbox in Manchester which commemorated England’s victory earlier in the summer, which I felt would help (not with the game, obviously, but with my ability to handle it).

    I was just outside the G-Mex/Manchester Central when Lyon dropped the runout chance.

    I was in Tesco Express when the winning runs were hit. I think the other shoppers might have been able to tell.

  4. I also Unwatched that day. I was in Leeds, with 2 young children, and it was a furiously hot day. We went to the art gallery and the Henry Moore Institute, and then the children played at the urban beach / funfair outside it. After lunch, looking for a way to keep cool (and having made the bold call of not booking a hotel room for that night) we had ice creams and then went to the cinema for 2 hours of aircon and the live-action Lion King. We emerged into the balmy late-afternoon and I checked my phone just as the winning runs were being celebrated. Then we went to Pizza Express before driving home to London.

  5. Lovely piece, Sam. Most of us around here can relate to it and most of us have our own story from that strange day.

    In our household, Daisy kept the faith while I went into the garden to sulk and stop following the match. When I couldn’t help but hear that Stokes was approaching his ton i couldn’t resist going inside to witness that – after all an Ashes ton is an Ashes ton.

    From that point on, I was transfixed and Daisy was all-but hiding behind the sofa.

    I know, it sounds like a tale about a six year old and a three year old, rather than adults with quite large numbers representing tens preceding each of those numbers.


    Thanks again, Sam.

  6. Right, we’ll beat you in a T20 behind closed doors in Southampton in September. If we do it, we win the Ashes. Right? So you bowl first. If we get more runs, we’ve won the champagne. And that’s it. And that’s the real Ashes.

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