Justin Langer was interviewed by the BBC, whose audio production and delivery is peerless, and comments that the Ashes loss in 2005 was (“to a degree”) good for Australian cricket. It probably was, too, in a perverse kind of way.
But the most revealing comments stem from the spiralling, near-fanatical interest in the tickets some five or six months before the series begins.
“This is the moment Australians have been waiting for,” said Cricket Australia chief James Sutherland, who has described the series as “the biggest celebration of cricket in this country in living memory”.
Team captain Ricky Ponting has urged fans to order tickets early.
“The Australian team can’t wait for this Ashes series to start and having a sea of green and gold supporters in the stand will give us a massive boost,” he commented.
Last year’s Ashes series was a sporting triumph, propelling cricket in England to the front and back pages in equal measure. It was unique for many Britons who, certainly in my generation, had never tasted how sweet beating Australia could be. It was like tasting a pudding in a posh restaurant; at first glance it looks perfectly edible, if a little boring. But only when you take a bite do you realise just how impossibly tasty it is. I don’t do posh restaurants, but get the same satisfaction from a sausage roll, if you care to know.
It explained Australia’s euphoric celebrations when they beat us over the past two decades, which pained and confused me because, in all honesty, England were crap for a long time and we knew it. “Why are you so pleased to beat us? You have McGrath, Warne, a couple of Waughs and whole lot more. We have Phil Tufnell and an inferiority complex. We couldn’t beat a panel in a panel-beating garage full of experienced panel beaters,” I used to ask myself.
Perhaps my memory fails me, but it wasn’t until Edgbaston that the country really got behind England – our belief mirrored the team’s. And in winning the Ashes, it seems as though England has stirred a giant hornet’s nest in Australia: they’re buzzing; bubbling with a mixture of anger and pride and are surely going to break some ticket records in Australia.
Don’t underestimate the significance or hype of this Ashes series. If you thought 2005 was big, forget it. This winter’s promises to be positively massive. Incidentally, get preparing! Get your Sky subscriptions (or at the very least, look into the cost). If you can’t get Sky, consider NTL or Cable. If you’re an ex-pat, and I know there are hundreds of you reading, look into watching it online (Cricinfo.com is quite good for that apparently). Buy yourselves a digital radio.