Despite being in Edinburgh, whenever I've not been in a show (and sometimes when I have), I've been plugged into Test Match Special. This Ashes series is everything a clash of titans should be and is utterly compelling. However on exiting a show at 4:40 yesterday afternoon and noticing we were 50-odd for 2 chasing 129, I felt I should find myself a pub to watch us stroll to victory on the telly. By the time I reached the pub we were 4 wickets down, but with Flintoff and Pietersen at the wicket, all seemed fairly well.
Found myself a quiet stool in the Royal Mile hostelry (on the Royal Mile, as you might expect), and sat back to take in the next couple of hours of high drama. I guess it was not so much a case of England making the victory hard for ourselves, but that our opponents are not half bad, with a twirly genius in the ranks. Lee has been no slouch either, the first ball of his second spell doing for KP wafting outside off-stump. He then got one to swing in to Flintoff, sending the bails flying having sailed through a wide gate. Then with Geraint Jones out trying to take the initiative swiping Warne supposedly for 6, but instead into the hands of Kasprrrowicz, 13 were still needed with only the tail left.
I had a ticket for a show at 6 but that soon found itself ripped up in an ashtray as there was no way I could tear myself away from it. The prospect of England taking a 2-1 lead with 1 to play is very very big news indeed, particularly in a tight and tense situation as this. How immense have these past 3 Tests been?
By this point, my chair was surrounded by folks staring up at the telly, all of us sharing of anxiety vocally and nearly to the point of biting each other's nails. One guy starts rabbiting on about his life story, but soon realises as I stare intently at the screen that I ain't fackin interested just now.
As it is Ashley Giles's unprentious presence and Hoggard's resiliance won the day, a huge cheer and even a round of applause enveloping those in the Royal Mile. Great days indeed, from watching the Edgabaston arse-squeak in a chalet prior to my best friend's wedding to witnessing the Old Trafford draw live to being here wrapped up in a TV screen with people who have been like old mates for an hour, it has been a privilidge to watch and listen to it. Me and the folks in the Royal Mile, we were there for each other yesterday, and to experience what could well be the ultimate in cricketing terms considering recent history.
Perhaps come the end of the Oval Test we may rue not taking that final wicket at Old Trafford as the Ashes would be won by now if we had, but I don't fear that final test. I think our team is more than good enough to pass it. Hope Simon Jones is fit for it though as he as been a revelation this summer, thank god considering Harmison blowing hot and cold and Hoggy being slightly short of rhythm.
But Hoggy though, you won't find me criticising him today. As I left the Royal Mile, I switched back into TMS and heard the King of Spain say to Jim Maxwell that Hoggy's immense drive through extra cover for 4 would live with him forever.
You are not the only one Asher G, you are not the only one.