The End

And that’s that. It’s all over. Australia have won the Ashes. And the back to back five Test series we have been drooling over since July are all but done.

Sure there are two more Tests, but like too many cricket games these days, they are meaningless matches.

The Perth Test, though, reminded us all why we love this game. A deteriorating pitch, brave men making one last stand, bowlers showing us why they are the professionals and we are the bloggers, all on a sun washed and brilliant green underneath an expanse of blue on the far edge of the other side of the world.

It’s a great game, Test cricket. And I am a little down that the Year of the Ashes is now done – and its ending cast a pall on my entire day. From Ashton Agar to Ben Stokes. It’s been a long arc that bended toward brilliance – often cracking but never breaking – finally settling in Western Australia for its final act.

The end.

*

When series end, the BBC or Sky or whatever will show a a highlight reel of the series with a musical accompaniment as it rolls its long form credits.

And so I bring you the highlights from all of my posts about the two Ashes series.

But first, your music:

And now, the highlights:

*****

14 wickets fell at Trent Bridge today in what was a thrilling day one of the first Ashes Test.

And as Ponting’s first class career was ending, Agar’s was launching into the stratosphere. A poetic end for what was a wonderful day for Australian cricket on the shores of England.

Yesterday Australia were sailing along, tonight they are lost in a deep, dark pit.

In Shakespearian dramas, the fifth act bring us redemption, resolution, and retribution. Let us hope tomorrow brings all three of those to the great stage that is Trent Bridge, that is the Ashes, that is Test cricket.

In the end, Jimmy Anderson proved too much, Haddin edged to Prior, and England celebrated like they had just won the World Cup.

Australia, England, Australia.

I am one of those Americans.

It is boring and it is slow, but it is also painfully and thoroughly and demoralizingly and tortuously effective.

Nightmare scenario for Australia…

And we’re back…

Otherwise this series is going to fizzle out like a doused campfire.

But now it is all over. After all of the build-up, all of the hype, all of the brouhaha, all of the sledging, all of the controversy, all of the really terrible hashtags, after all of the press conferences, pre-match interviews, warm-up matches, predictions, and back page after page of punditry and statistical analyses and team selection dust ups and injuries…after months of anticipating…after everything…it’s over. Just like that. On a gloomy Monday afternoon in Manchester. With the covers on the pitch and the players in the clubhouse.

What this might also mean is that this winter’s Ashes Part 2 might actually be a closer contest than most of us think. Australia, at home, with a proper strategy and a proper team selection might end up giving England a run for their money. We shall see.

I guess what I am trying to say is that England would make for a very good legal secretary.

He was not a metronome. He was not a machine. He was a human athlete: flawed, artful, menacing, and brilliant. Over-flowing with contagious personality.

In cricket, there are very few actual endings. The cycles start up again almost immediately after stopping. And so I must say that while the melancholy of ending is there, it’s easier to shake than it usually is. Sometimes, in world cricket, it is nice to be able to put a cap on things for a bit – like we got today in London.

********

The curtain rises on Brisbane, and another Ashes series begins.

It was an inspiring and transformative time – to say the least.

Australia looked cool, stylish, talented. They had swagger and panache. And England meanwhile looked lost.

Confused.

Old.

And then the cricket was just not quite there either.

And since he is wearing the armband, his struggles are notable.

The play never stops ticking over.

Until it does.

Bell can bat forever, but I worry about Stokes, and when Stokes falls the weight falls to an out-of-form Matt Prior, and then the tail. And then it is Tea on day three and they are still 100 runs behind.

Now let’s just hope England can reverse the trend with a miracle today in Perth.

When the whistle blows and the clock runs out, that’s it. It’s over.

The Perth Test, though, reminded us all why we love this game.

****

Thank you for indulging me.

Looking forward here on Limited Overs: I have a couple recap posts on the Ashes I am working on, but I won’t be writing about each day for the final two Tests. I will also be going back to my bread and butter – the Associates – with a tribute to Ireland’s successful world title – and I have a year-end recap in the works, too.

Talk soon, then.

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