Saturday, 21 February 2009

Saving the spirit of cricket.

I recently bought my Dad the ultimate DVD viewing combo; the 2005 Ashes box set and the 2003 Rugby World Cup story. He retired to South-West France a year ago to a little surfer's paradise called Hossegor. As well as being home to the legendary Dick's Sand Bar (Chick's Love Dick's according to the strap line adorning the entrance), Hossegor is also partial to the odd storm or two. So, what better way to pass the time than to enjoy 18 hours worth of DVD sporting gold. I must admit, when I arrive in Hossegor this summer, the decision between the beach and an immediate marathon in front of the the telly will be a very tough one. Simon Jones' 5 finger salute, Straussy's catch, Jason Robinson's full length try against Georgia...too many moments to mention. So, where did it all go wrong?

I was lucky enough to be at the penultimate day of the Oval test in 2005. At 10.55am I stood up and belted out Jerusalem (And did those feet...!) with the capacity crowd and rather interestingly John McCirrick, of racing and general chauvinistic fame, standing two seats to my right. It was simply, and I hope this doesn't sound too sad, one of the best days of my life! The action that day was mediocre, Freddie and Hoggy rattled through the Australian middle order (one wicket after lunch I ashamedly missed due to the charming tones of John Inverdale, who was still MC-ing the luncheon chat), and we only snuck in a glimpse of the England top order before bad light stopped play at around 3.30pm (cue Australian sun glass antics). The memory that lingers longest, however, is the passion and love for the game that gripped everyone in the Oval that day. The bad light made it even more obvious, the banter that ensued in the crowd during the break was heroic and the outskirts of the ground became over-run with games of mini cricket, with anything and everything that could be found being used in place of bat and ball. It was an awesome day to be a part of, and one that I certainly wont forget in a hurry.

Fast forward to present day and with English cricket, according to Mihir Bose, in a muddy and murky cul-de-sac, the prospect of the Ashes this summer is a slightly less appetising one. What with the Stanford saga, Pietersen vs Moores and a current side with all the killer instinct of Tim Henman, it's a little difficult to get pumped.

So, it may be a little mis-guided to suggest that The Everest Test can save the spirit of cricket, but in our own little world, allow us to think that it can help. I think cricket fans out there could do with an injection of cricketing goodness to help revive their enthusiasm. So we'll take it upon ourselves to administer a well timed shot before the Ashes kicks off this summer. Andrew Strauss and Alistair Cook are now on board as honorary captains of the two Everest teams, so it's not unrealistic to imagine that they may suck up some spirit from their involvement. When they go out to the middle this summer to face the Australian attack, let's hope they take some encouragement from our high altitude pursuits. Cricket's not for everyone, and those who love it often find it difficult to explain why. In 2005 cricket converted a bucket load of non-believers and hopefully the nation will be gripped again this summer, let's hope The Everest Test can play its part to get the ball rolling again.

As for the rugby...don't get me started. With our best young talent chasing higher salaries over in France and the nation letting out a collective sigh every Tuesday afternoon as Johnson names his latest 6 nations starting 15...deary of sevens on Kilimanjaro anyone?

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