It has been a horrible, horrible year or so for English cricket. We got stuffed in the Ashes 0-5. The board reacted by sacking the best batsman without sufficient explanation, appointing a failed old coach, and patronising the fans with outside cricket jibes (something that offended many supporters whether it was directed at Piers Morgan or not).
English cricket was subsequently dragged through the mud. The board came across as bumbling and disingenuous. The outside world laughed at us. The legacy of the team that reached number one in the world was ripped apart by accusations of bullying. And on the field we lost to Sri Lanka in all forms of the game, and suffered a humiliating defeat to India at Lord’s.
Although things improved with a dramatic turnaround against India, we lost the ODIs, then lost another ODI series in Sri Lanka, and were utterly humiliated in the World Cup. Things couldn’t have been much worse. Meanwhile many fans still felt ostracised, angry and disenfranchised.
Colin Graves, the incoming chairman, made things worse by dangling a carrot in front of Pietersen and then snatching it away. The board looked like fools all over again. And to make matters worse, far worse, Tom Harrison the new CEO dashed hopes that some live cricket would return to FTA television (something the counties wanted) and called terrestrial channels ‘irrelevant’.
Personally, the last year has been my lowest point as an England supporter. To see so many people actually rooting against the team; to see the ECB stitch up world cricket at the ICC; to hear that the England captain owed his position to his social class; it all made me sick to the stomach.
Yet today was a good day. A bloody good day. After all the embarrassment and anger of the last year or so, we finally have something to cheer about. The ODI series against New Zealand was entertaining, but at the end of the day it was just another ODI series. Did it really count for much? A resounding win in a live Ashes test, however, is a big deal. It’s brilliant. And it’s a genuine reason to be happy.
Our lads played extremely well in this test match, in a manner that was miles apart from the stodgy, stats driven, attritional style of the past – the style that had served us so well, but had become stale and outdated. Change has finally arrived.
To see young cricketers like Stokes, Wood, Moeen and Root play with freedom, enjoyment and panache warms my cockles. I’m bloody chuffed with all of them. Hell, Alastair Cook even captained the team pretty well. Things just went our way.
Although it’s only the first test of the series, and this team has a worrying habit of following up a win with a loss, I don’t really care about that right now. Let’s just savour a great performance and a well earned victory. If the Aussie fans who goaded us in January last year are crying into their beer, and David Warner’s feeling a little low, that’s good enough for me.
The thought of Shane Watson’s challenging yet another lbw decision, with that gormless expression on his face, will keep me warm for the next few nights. Today was a good day.
PS please excuse the rap video above. I actually dislike most rap. But i like this song because it reminds of GTA San Andreas and a happy time in my life. My favourite blog, Niners Nation, plays it whenever my NFL team the 49ers win. It’s called ‘It Was A Good Day’.