Thursday, July 11, 2013

A Seven Nation Army Couldn't Hold Me Back

Right now it's a Thursday night and I'm watching the Ashes live on TV.  Cricket, people.  Let me paint this picture for you.  Britain vs. Australia.  This is the second of five days of the first test.  There are five tests in England throughout July and August.  Tests can last eight hours a day.  Last night, I watched a couple of hours and then headed to bed.  When I went to sleep Australia was doing pretty well. When I woke up I found that things had turned badly.

It's kind of like if you could watch paint dry. You'd be watching for a long time and very little happens and then boom, it's dry!  Wow, what a turn of events.  But seriously, I am fascinated by it.  Of course, I can watch baseball and golf on TV as well so I don't think I'm the average sports viewer here.  They literally zoom in on the pitch to show the cracks in the field.  They use incredible technology to show where the batter is hitting or the spin of the ball or an infrared heat cam to show if it hit the bat or their legs.

Australia is crazy about sports.  We are talking about a country that just went over 23 million people in population.  They rank 53rd in the world and make up about .33% of total population.  I say this because they also rank 14th overall in total Olympic medals awarded.  There's not a lot of snow here so let's just say that they finally won their first winter Olympic medal in 1994 and have nine total. They are basically 14th overall based on the summer Olympics only.  They are so disappointed in their swimming performance in the London Olympics there are articles almost weekly about what went wrong and how they are fixing it.  I wondered at the time, "Why is Emily Seebohm crying? She just won the silver medal?"  Yeah, I get it now. For those of you that don't remember, Emily was beaten by the American phenom Missy Franklin.  While we were all cheering Missy in America this was happening in Australia.  Like I said, they take their sports seriously.

Just another article about how mad they are about swimming. No pressure or anything.

The Ashes come immediately after the Australia Wallabies just lost to the British and Irish Lions in rugby.  The Australians are huge underdogs here even though they have dominated the last couple of decades in cricket.  Despite being few in number they expect to win everything.  The Ashes started in 1882.  It's called the Ashes because after England lost the first test an English newspaper printed the obituary of the British Cricket team and said that "the ashes" would be sent back to Australia with the victors.

When England came to Australia to play again a group of Aussie women presented their captain with a tiny urn filled with ashes and that became the trophy that is awarded to this day.  It's said that the ashes are from a burnt cricket bail, which is the top piece of small wood that is put on top of the stumps that make up the wicket.  Easy, right?

British captain Alastair Cook and Aussie captain Michael Clarke hold the coolest trophy in sports
Courtesy of
The Aussies wear the Baggy Greens, the same style of hat they've been wearing since the beginning. There is no greater honor for an Aussie cricketer than to be awarded a baggy green.

One of the young stars of the British team is Joe Root.  Australians find this particularly awesome because in Australia, "root" is slang for the "f" word.  This is why when Americans say they are rooting for a team you will see an Aussie smirk and chuckle.  Every time.  They can't help but laugh when they hear Root's name.  It's really funny how people become twelve-year-old boys when they hear "Joe Root" is bowling.

They are really good at the sport of drinking too.  This is an Aussie Fanatic beer snake made from their plastic cups yesterday.
Courtesy of 

Well, things aren't going well but the rookie Ashton Agar is putting on a masterful debut so far.  Britain got 215/all out yesterday but it's now Australia batting for 192-9.  I still can't believe I understand what I just wrote.  I used to read Agatha Christie novels and would glaze over the cricket references.  Here I am watching cricket and drinking tea.  My grandfather's family would be proud except that I'm rooting for, nope, cheering for the Aussies.   I can't go to bed until Ashton finishes batting.  Paint drying has never been so interesting.

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