The Headingley Test

I listened to the closing moments of the England cricket Test against Australia on Sunday in disbelief.

Ben Stokes had brought off the most remarkable victory in international cricket history. With last man Jack Leach they had to score 73 to win. And win they did.

But it was the closing moments which were wholly and utterly remarkable. Stokes was first dropped, then with the entire Australian team surrounding the boundary he hit a six which just got over the leaping fielder. He then went for a crazy single with two to win and stopped, only to leave Leach stranded half-way down the pitch. At this point it was surely all over and what a tragedy it would have been. But Nathan Lyons somehow fumbled the incoming throw. Then the next delivery from a riled Lyons hits Stokes on the pads, but umpire Watson gives ‘not out’. The camera clearly showed differently, but the Aussies had used up all their reviews and the last one rashly. A single was then achieved to cleverly put Stokes on strike in the next over. The English now cannot lose. The tension is immense as fast bowler Cummings scorches in to deliver the vital ball to Stokes, who simply battered it through the covers for four and the whole of Headingly and England erupted in jubilation.

This was immense. I had to watch the replays several times later on TV to take it all in.

But imagine being there?

The wonderful commentator Johnathan Agnew said that he had never seen anything like it and I don’t think he ever will again.

Don’t we just love sport in this country? It’s something we are very good at and it is something that this country revolves around. Whether it’s WImbledon or the Boat Race or Ascot or The Open or the rugby. We excel at it. And this Test Match was at the pinnacle of that.

It’s a shame we don’t have a Johnathan Agnew in golf mind you. For old Aggers is simply sublime. A wonderful commentator on the game. His timing, his knowledge, his sensitivity, his passion. His niceness actually. He does come across as a very decent bloke indeed and you can hear and see everyone responding to this. It’s heart warming and life giving. I really can’t get enough of Aggers.

There is a wonderful anecdote from last summer about someone who had written a letter to him which he read out on air. About how this chap’s father had sublimely drifted to another world, in the utmost contentment, listening to the kindly and euphonious tones of Aggers on Test Match live.

What a way to close your innings.

But in golf we are bereft of good or even decent commentators. There is no one near the level or pitch of Aggers. Ok we had Peter Alliss for donkeys and he indeed still pops up from time to time on the feeble Beeb coverage of the Open. But he never did it for me. Rather far too self-obsessed I felt and always annoyingly trying to be funny. But not very.

And then we have the likes of Ken Brown and Ian Carter and Ewan Murray who are mind blowingly boring. And then Sir Nick Faldo over on Sky of course.

Oh deary, deary me.

He’s about as inspiring as a kick in the head.

Anyone for cricket?

 

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