I am a cricket fan, particularly of the English national team, although in indulging my interest it usually amounts to no more than listening to commentary or podcasts on Test Match Special (TMS), while doing other things. I was sad when it stopped being shown live by the BBC (I think 20 years ago – was it that long) and look forward to next year when the BBC will again show live cricket, although these days I am happy listening on TMS at my computer.
I have long hoped that England can produce a side on par with the great West Indies and Australian sides of yesteryear, but when it looked close to happening it then failed to happen. The three months ahead feature my two favorite cricketing spectaculars: the Word Cup (even though I am not normally a big fan of the limited overs game) and another Ashes series. But my hopes are high, although as I recall when considering the team strengths and weaknesses a year ago, this included a lack of world class top order batsmen. But to compensate, we have a great all rounder in Ben Stokes back playing and a new seriously fast bowler in Jofra Archer. We also have a team that can bat well to well down in the order and a fair and balanced attack. If I have a worry it is a lack of consistency and adaptability, the hall marks of truly great sides.
The World Cup has already begun well from an English perspective with an impressive defeat of the South Africans. The pundits expect great things from the English including them to win the World Cup, but that would be tempting fate, especially as with this format it is often down to what happens on the day once we get to knock out stages, and it is never easy to predict. But at least for the next six weeks I will be following this competition with interest, part of it from the other side of the world, and not only the English. I will do so in the romantic hope that we will see the best players in the world playing against each other and performing at their best.
And then onto the five match Ashes series against the old enemy. While the Aussies are not the side they were, they can never be discounted and with Smith and Warner returning to the side after a ban they will be strengthened. Ever since I was a youngster, an Ashes series was seen as the pinnacle of the game, and that hasn’t changed. I anticipate keenly the matches ahead and hope we will see great cricket and this despite the detrimental effect of money and other distractions, and just maybe a great English side will emerge. I look forward to when at the end of the summer I can look back on great cricket played, which right now we cannot yet predict.
Update 03/06/19: Cricket is a funny old game. Pakistan have just beaten England against expectations and an exciting game, after their previous miserable first game defeat against the West Indies, and deservedly so. So much for pundits predictions! There is a long way to go and who can say who will be World Cup winners.