Mr Morris would say: Bonjour !
It’s been a year since I wrote my first blog ‘From Frog’s legs to Roast Beef’. Having been lucky enough to be invited to attend ‘The Ashes‘, I was forced, sorry I mean freely decided to write a blog about the incomprehensible event. After having watched a 20/20 game a few months ago in Northampton, I was really looking forward to sharpening my cricket skills at the Ashes. Apparently, it’s a different kind of cricket, much slower…Is this even possible?
8pm Friday evening: Let’s do a little bit of work before tomorrow. First step, check the cricket score. England leads by 78 runs. Ok, I know I won’t go very far with that and the few rules I do know, but it will do. Now, let’s see the list of attendees. I’m sure it’s going to be a fun day but if I can look (not too) serious and professional at the same time, jackpot. Then, came choosing what to wear. the dress code’s smart casual which is always very precise, but I won’t comment on that as I’ve decided not to make any jokes about English people in this blog.,(or maybe just one or two).
Saturday morning, the train’s cancelled because of a crew shortage. Not a good start. While waiting for the next one, Steve buys fifty two bottles of water. Two minutes later, I have a new job: Water bottle carrier. Once in the crowded train, there’s only one seat left for Steve: Unfortunately, a lady just split some water on it. As you can see, even if the weather was great, it’s always humid in England (sorry I honestly can’t resist). Wet bottoms don’t really fit the dandy style (even smart casual)…Not that I looked of course but his neighbours did if I judge from their hysterical laughter.
During a taxi ride to the ground, I questioned Gavin and Steve: ‘Why are the Ashes called the Ashes?, the answer’s not very convincing. I did my homework since (that’s the boring part of this blog, please feel free not to read): The term originated in a satirical obituary published in a British newspaper, The Sporting Times, immediately after Australia’s 1882 victory at The Oval, its first Test win on English soil. The obituary stated that English cricket had died, and “the body will be cremated and the ashes taken to Australia. It sounds very dramatic, but at the end of the day, it’s just a burnt ball in a (very) small trophy.
Finally, we arrive at the venue, which looks like a Harry Potter Quidditch ground. We meet Ian Bray, Andy Morris, Niall Monaghan, Michael Merrill, Richard Paynter, Gavin Plitcher and Rachel Rowley and Steve gives everyone their ticket while I distribute the badges and off we go! Well, everybody does but I can’t! Because Steve just left with my ticket. I’m still debating if this was on purpose or not. I should have titled this blog ‘Steve Watts perilous journey to the Ashes‘. Anyway, after the traditional (English) breakfast and a speech, that’s the start of the game! At that time, you have two teams: Those who sit under the sun, enjoy the end of the summer and get VERY hot, like most of the men in shirts (smart casual shirt of course), or those who play strategic and stay in the shadow to protect their heads. After two hours, there’s a lunch break (with French wine). Two more hours and that’s afternoon tea time. So, you stop a sport game to have tea? That’s where you see that cricket was invented by the British. It’s a concept.
I’m not quite sure how to summarise the rest of the evening: We had some interesting discussions about the origins of sports, France beating England in the Rugby World Cup (the match’s on the 12th October, take notes), the different approaches countries have of World War II and many more. I look forward to meeting everybody again, because next time I would have made some additional researches. Of the match itself I’ll keep in mind that England batted through the entire day for the loss of eight wickets to take a commanding lead of 382 at the close. This sentence absolutely does not come from me but you can never look too clever. Next week, I’m back to Nottingham, back to (slightly boring) accounting courses. But I’m more motivated than ever because I’ve recently learnt that even professional life’s made of ups and downs and that’s much more exciting than a predictable straight line: ‘Work hard, play hard’ as some would say.
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