BootsnAll Travel Network

Trent Bridge: The Ashes

Sunday the 28th of August was going to be a big day for me and Bec. It was a day we had been looking forward to for months. We were going to the Ashes, the battle between Australian and English cricketers for a little urn filled with old dust.

Obtaining tickets to this current Ashes series was almost impossible, particularly once the series started and the teams produced some of the most thrilling cricket seen in years.

Months earlier, I had mentioned in passing to my brother back in Australia that Bec and I had no chance of getting our hands on tickets. He had in turn mentioned this to his good English buddy Kirk, who he knew went to a Test match each year. It was at that stage that our old friend Lady Fate stepped in. Kirk’s father and brother, for whom he had purchased tickets, and both mad keen cricket followers according to Kirk, had somehow booked holidays for the same weekend as the cricket. What is it that causes grown men to make such stupid decisions? But we weren’t complaining, as the tickets were know ours.

Amazingly, on the morning of the match, we could have sold the tickets for 450 quid, each. When you convert that to Australian dollars, it’s enough to buy a three bedroom house with a swimming poll. But that, frankly, was not an option even worth considering.

We left Gab and Marr’y in Manchester on the 27th, and took a short three hour bus ride south to Leicester, where we were met by Kirk. Not only was he supplying us with the tickets, but he was very generously allowing us to stay at his house as well. The next three nights we were treated like old friends, and had a great time with Kirk, his lovely wife Jools, and their two gorgeous daughters Rosie, aged almost 5, and Anna, almost 3.

Joining Kirk, Bec and I for the cricket were three of Kirk’s old buddies, Tommo, Nick, and Martin, all of whom were more than happy to remind us of our convict history. When it came to attending the cricket, these English lads clearly knew what they were doing. Bringin alcohol into the ground was prohibited, unless, apparently, you hid it in kids’ fruit juice bottles (vodka, in this case), or stashed it at the base of a near empty can of Pringles (this time, miniature bottles of Bailies. Yes, classy, I know). But this was not going to be enough for the six of us. Having found our seats, Kirk caught the attention of a young ground attendant.

“Mate, where’s the nearest bar from here?”

“Well, if you go down those stairs over there, and take a left, you’ll see a bar not too far along. But if I were you, I’d go past that to the entrance to the ground. There’s a pub across the road, just tell the guy manning the entrance that you’re going to the pub to get some beers and he’ll give you a passout so you can bring them back into the ground.”

Kirk turned around to Bec and me and smiled. This was going to be a great day.

The first session of cricket (two hours worth) was actually ridiculously boring, as Australia fought hard to stay in the contest. But after the lunch break the tension in the game picked up considerably. Australia were able to set England a small, but ultimately testing target of 129 runs. It was just the sort of small run chase that had caused Australia problems in the past.

England began their final innings confidently, and raced to 28 runs off just four overs. Then Shane Warne started bowling, and after three overs, had taken two wickets for just three runs. England were faltering, and our Pommy mates looked horribly nervous.

Bec and I were the only Australians in our area, and thanks to a few litres of Guiness, were celebrating each England wicket with little restraint, and copping some evil stares from the folks around us. Following one such celebration, a drunk Pom a few rows in front of us turned around. He’d been offering a few choice words to the Autralian fielders throughout the day, but was clearly one of those drunk eople who thinks they’re funny, but in reality are about as funny as America’s Foreign Policy, and so he’d been getting some dissaproving looks from those sitting close.

“Where’s ya handbag love?” he asked, presumably of Bec, although he might have been talking to me, I am a bit girly looking.

“Settle down mate, I don’t think anyone really likes your comments”, Bec replied, keeping a cool head.

“Yeah, well there’s 60 million of us that don’t like you”.

“No mate, you see these blokes up here” Bec said, motioning to our four Pommy mates, “They don’t like you, and they’re English”.

Touche. No comeback for that.

The game edged closer to a dramatic finish, as Australia continued to take wickets, each of which was greeted by a smattering of cheers from the few Australians in the crowd, and a huge draw of breath from the English, followed by the silence of heads resting in hands. As the Poms pushed closer to their target, each single run was cheered by the Eglish as heartily as a Beckham goal. And when England finally did hit the winning runs, with just three wickets in hand, Kirk, Tommo, Nick, and Martin were embracing as though they’d just won the lottery, overcome by the emotion of a tension filled, hard fought win by the English.

All Bec and I could do was smile, and applaud all the players, Poms included, as they left the ground. And the ribbing I thought we might cop should England win was left out, as we all marvelled at what was a brilliant day’s criket.

Of course, had the Aussies won, I would’ve been merciless in bagging any Pom I could lay eyes on, but oh well, you can’t win ’em all.

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