2014 was the worst year for England cricket followers anyone can remember. The one consolation? It’s nearly over.
Thing is, it wasn’t always like this. At some point in each of our lives, we all fell in love with the game of cricket. Its beguiling but maddening properties inveigled their way into our emotional consciousness and refused to ever let go.
Around the same time, the England team took a grip on our imaginations. Like your parents splitting up, we had no choice in the matter but it would affect us forever. Like Lou Reed’s introduction to heroin, it was the start of a relationship which would take us from squalid trauma to sublime heights of perfection – and back again.
England have given us some of the best and worst moments of our lives. No other group of eleven men have collectively wrought such misery and ecstasy. We know about all the bad times. But there have been plenty of good times. And there will be again, one day.
It’s Christmas, after all, and we deserve something to smile about. So here is a festive selection of some of the greatest moments, matches and players in English cricket history. This is the stuff which keeps us going. Whatever we’ve forgotten or overlooked, please add in below.
1. Devon Malcolm v South Africa – the Oval, 1994
2. The conclusion to the 1982/83 Melbourne test
4. Alec Stewart’s twin centuries – Barbados, 1994
5. Matthew Hoggard dismantles South Africa – Johannesburg, 2004
6. Botham’s finest hour – Edgbaston, 1981
6. Jack Hobbs and Herbert Sutcliffe – the Oval, 1926
Their epic partnership of 172 drove England to the position from which they reclaimed the Ashes for the first time in fourteen years.
7. Steve Harmison to Michael Clarke – Edgbaston, 2005
8. England win in the dark – Karachi, 2000
9. Typhoon Tyson
10. Our only silverware – ever
11. Fraser and Gough – Headingley, 1998
(Skip to 1.05’25” for the nitty gritty)
12. Goughy again – Sydney, 1999
13. The feats of Gilbert Jessop
He made a test hundred off 76 balls. He made 286 in 180 minutes against Sussex. He made 233 out of 318 in 150 minutes against Yorkshire. And in those days, you had to hit the ball literally out of the ground for a six. Oh, and he also took 873 first class wickets, and could run a hundred yards in 10.2 seconds.
14. England’s greatest World Cup innings
15. A second entry for Dev – 29 against Australia, Sydney, 1994/95 Ashes
17. Just type ‘David Gower’ into You Tube
18. England’s first ever test victory
19. 12th September 2005
20. Alastair Cook scores his first 100 since May 2013
There were so many more I could have chosen. Please share your thoughts below.
In the meantime, from James and me – to everyone who visits The Full Toss to read and comment, and who’s given us such amazing support all year, there’s just one more thing to say.