Let battle commence: The 2017-18 Ashes
November 20, 2017 7:46 AM   Subscribe

It's time. In just a few days, the first ball in The Ashes (mens) will be bowled. Beginning in 1882, the current score is Australia: 32, England: 32. A few previous players, one of whom could bowl a bit. The Ashes are part of a tour of Australia and New Zealand by England which concludes after five months. England start without their star player while Australia have undertaken some unexpected squad selections. Joe Root, the England captain previously punched by Australia's star player, may be a decisive factor; diplomatic incident and in-play violence are, unlike previously, unlikely but not impossible. There will be much verbal abuse from players and spectators, plus mental disintegration. In the Women's Ashes, currently drawing to a close, Australia have retained the urn. Previously.
posted by Wordshore (26 comments total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Missed a link. From today's Guardian:

"Here, then, we see England entering the most hostile of cricket grounds. Even one of the ends, Vulture Street, has a name that hints at a painful death. England arrive chipper, cheerful and champing at the bit but having met nothing on tour that even remotely resembles what lies in wait. Their optimism and unity is encouraging, but it is about to undergo a very serious test."
posted by Wordshore at 8:01 AM on November 20, 2017

I know zero things about cricket but I hope you all enjoy this Mitchell and Webb sketch about your sport of choice
posted by mystikspyral at 8:27 AM on November 20, 2017

I just finished reading Life The Universe and Everything to my American 10 year old and boy does the plot need a lot of setup in the US. "It's a game that's a little like baseball ... here's a photo of a wicket ...blah blah Ashes ..." he lived it though.
posted by freecellwizard at 9:05 AM on November 20, 2017 [2 favorites]

The Urnbelieveable Ashes Podcast :

One of the great pleasures of The Ashes is England and Australia renewing their cultural and historical bonds.

And one of the main ways they do that is by shouting 'YESSSS' when a batsman waddles back to the dressing room after being bowled for an embarrassingly low score.

It's what makes summer/staying awake all night in the UK winter worthwhile!

Another good way to celebrate this historic sporting rivalry is by trying to make each other laugh, let's face it England need a bit of cheering up right now.

That is what UK comedian Andy Zaltzman (UK, The Bugle Podcast, BBC Test Match Special) and Australian comedian Felicity Ward (Australia, Any questions for Ben? Inbetweeners 2) will be attempting over the course of the men's Ashes at the end of 2017 and the start of 2018 from a studio in London giving a unique take on cricket's oldest rivalry.

Each episode will feature discussion of the action so far, Andy's and Felicity's spoof commentary of the highlights and lowlights of the matches, random cricket-related tangents, genuine punditry with cricket guru Jarrod Kimber and an occasional barrage of Andy's trademark statistics.

posted by Pendragon at 9:27 AM on November 20, 2017 [4 favorites]

Beware: the podcast is riddled with fucks so NSFW.
posted by Pendragon at 9:36 AM on November 20, 2017

Test Match Special is of course the one true source of Ashes coverage.
posted by pharm at 9:40 AM on November 20, 2017 [1 favorite]

Fucking-A, Pendragon, that is exactly what I need in my life right now, thank's for sharing!
posted by Helga-woo at 9:44 AM on November 20, 2017 [1 favorite]

I feel like England are going to get squashed, but hoping for at least some competitive matches. A peculiar kind of enjoyment - the pre-Ashes gloom...
posted by doornoise at 9:49 AM on November 20, 2017 [1 favorite]

To me, Test Cricket is like EVE Online.

I would never watch it, but I love reading the threads about it.
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 10:56 AM on November 20, 2017 [4 favorites]

The last Ashes that will be played at the WACA.
posted by Talez at 11:05 AM on November 20, 2017 [1 favorite]

Sports mean nothing to me. I mean, nothing. I regularly confuse teams of American football, baseball, and basketball, and could not care less about any of it. But of all the sports about which I care nothing, it is my total lack of knowledge of cricket that delights me most.

Listening or reading about cricket is like having suffered a minor stroke that has caused a mild aphasia of some sort. The words are all there, they all have meanings, but the sentences constructed with them make no sense. It’s wonderfully strange and off-putting in the best way. All the elements of a game are there: bats, balls, players, fields, but it’s like the entire enterprise has been constructed in some strange parallel universe. I could listen to cricket matches for hours, and I never, ever, want to know how it works, for that’d just ruin the mystery and my conviction that each time I hear commentary, I’m somehow tuned into radio from Earth-24.
posted by los pantalones del muerte at 11:46 AM on November 20, 2017 [8 favorites]

As Americans, my wife and I spent a lovely day driving from Brisbane on our way to Gladstone, listening to the cricket broadcast with absolutely no idea what was going on. It was great, in a surreal way. I realized from that broadcast that pretty much all sports broadcasts are the same; a smooth talking announcer to tell you the events, and a (usually crusty and old fart) ex-player to comment with comments like "reminds me of Bradford in 1936".

Thanks to perseverance and Indian friends, I've become more knowledgable and enjoy the game on those few times it's available in America.
posted by blob at 12:45 PM on November 20, 2017 [1 favorite]

All I know about cricket I learned from the Dorothy L. Sayers book "Murder Must Advertise," when Lord Peter Wimsey is working undercover at an advertising agency which has an annual cricket game with a rival. Lord Peter has determined not to display his expertise from playing for Oxford but an old fan recognizes his "exceedingly late cut" and remembers when he made 100 runs(?) once. All of which gives the undercover game away. It's lot of fun, very funny in that droll English way, and delighted me.
posted by MovableBookLady at 1:42 PM on November 20, 2017 [2 favorites]

Notes for non-cricket-fans:

- Cricket does not exist for your entertainment or understanding.
- The Test match is the ultimate example of the game. There have been many attempts to refine its appeal: The One-Day International, or Twenty20. These are populist nonsense.
- The best way to be a spectator for a cricket match, and most particularly any match of the Ashes series, is to avoid having any visual reference, and to have only the most marginal contact with the game.
- Ideally, you will have a tiny transistor radio tuned to the AM broadcast turned up to its highest level, such that the miniature speaker cracks and distorts with every pulse of mild enthusiasm from a commentator whose grasp of Cricket English is broadly excellent, but Standard English evades them entirely (vale, Richie. Still missed).
- This radio will then be placed in a distant room of the ragged old beach house you have occupied for the duration, and you (along with ten or so of your dearest friends) will be in the back yard, clustered around a searing-hot barbie with an ice-cold beer. (Alternatively, you are in a designated barbecue area.)
- Cheering is encouraged. It should not necessarily match the action.
- Any and all children should be in an unsupervised area, ostensibly for a round of Frenchie, but mostly for hitting each other with sticks, balls, fists, and/or pets.

Ah, cricket. I really couldn't give a rat's, but it's tradition.
posted by prismatic7 at 3:16 PM on November 20, 2017 [5 favorites]

YES! So pumped for this.

So many Ashes moments I'll never forget. Ball of the Century, the 2005 finish in Edgbaston, the 2005 sweep back in Australia, Harmison's first ball of the series that went to slip.

Nothing better than a summer day at home working around the house with the radio on. I wish Kerry O'Keefe was still on the ABC though. Glad Jim Maxwell is back and healthy.

The pink ball day/night test will also bring something new. Interesting to see what the prime time TV ratings will be like.

Very tough for Renshaw to have been dropped.
posted by trialex at 5:30 PM on November 20, 2017 [2 favorites]

Note for the clueless: cricket is one of those sports generally best enjoyed when not actually present where it is being played. Cricket in the stadium is horrible. Cricket on the TV is a slice of fried gold.
posted by um at 6:38 PM on November 20, 2017

As amazing as the Ashes tours are, spare a thought for the other countries outside the big three of England, Australia, and India. As one who prefers test matches, I wish the modern game allowed for more tests instead of ODIs and especially 20/20s.
posted by Start with Dessert at 7:06 PM on November 20, 2017 [2 favorites]

Cricket in the stadium is horrible.

Oh I don't know... drink, listen to the radio, drink, shout at people to sit down if they are moving around during the bowling and not during a change of over, drink, keep shouting for a player until they wave at you, drink, eat sandwiches, drink, go for a wander - between overs obv, drink... you get the idea
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 2:37 AM on November 21, 2017

The last match of The Women's Ashes has just finished, with a win for England. Overall, the series score - which is measured across all three forms of the game - is 8 each, with Australia retaining the trophy.

I personally hope for more full length - 5 day - matches in future series. Even though the sole long format game has double the points of the ODI and T20 matches, it lessens the skill in that those three T20 "thwack the ball and hope" matches have a bearing on the overall score.

Also, four day instead of five day double innings matches - meaning more draws and less mental stamina and tactical nuance from the captains - can go and kiss my middle aged English arse. It ain't broke so stop fucking around with the format.
posted by Wordshore at 3:08 AM on November 21, 2017 [3 favorites]

[A couple deleted. Understood that a lot of people don't know much about cricket, but let's not completely derail the thread with that, please.]
posted by taz (staff) at 5:27 AM on November 21, 2017 [1 favorite]

Cool, welcome Ashes tourists.
posted by hawthorne at 5:38 AM on November 21, 2017

Cricket threads always amuse me on Mefi. I wonder how long I be would tolerated if I leapt into world series threads to profess my ignorance of baseball but I did like that Kevin Costner movie, or basketball threads proclaiming I couldn't care less about the sport but the animation in Space Jam was the goods.

Day one was a day for the purists, and I did enjoy having the ear phones in at work as the ABC commentary team got back into the groove and meter of talking about the long form game. With luck, we will see plenty of matches stretch to 5 days, with tense finishes, draws or victories.

I have my ticket for Sydney, and am keen to spend some time in that languid summer state on the lounge watching telly with a couple of other blokes, or pottering around the garden with the radio on and dashing inside for the replay when there is a wicket.

It still annoys me that the administrators and a lot of the players and commentators want to grow and further commercialise the sport, arguing that T20 and 50 over is what the market wants. It is complete nonsense, of course. It is undoubtedly true that lots of people can turn on the telly or show up at a ground for a few hours of T20 slog, and I am sure that time commitments and the desire to see some spectacular batting mean it is viable entertainment.
But to suggest it is the future is like a Michelin starred chef saying they will close the restaurant because people buy more McDonalds. Just stupid.
The strategy and tactics of a finely balanced test match are extraordinary, and to swap that for the trivial calculation of "Warner has to score a run a ball to get over the line" would be a poor trade.
Fortunately, when you go to the ground, at least in Sydney where I go, there are plenty of fans, from yobs with watermelons on their head, to the tweed jacketed members, who still love the vibe of a test.
posted by bystander at 12:18 PM on November 23, 2017 [1 favorite]

'straya wins at the 'Gabba by a lazy 10 wickets. It was nip and tuck for a couple of days, then England subsided alarmingly.

Part of Australia's dominance was due to to their light-hearted on-field raising of a curious incident a month or so ago involving their wicketkeeper and the then uncapped Australian opener Cam Bancroft. The after match press conference is one of the funnier things I've seen. The gentleman on the right is Steve Smith, the Australian Captain.
posted by hawthorne at 7:15 AM on November 27, 2017

Come on England, I'll be Rooting for you ;D
posted by Start with Dessert at 12:19 PM on December 5, 2017

It still annoys me that the administrators and a lot of the players and commentators want to grow and further commercialise the sport, arguing that T20 and 50 over is what the market wants. It is complete nonsense, of course. It is undoubtedly true that lots of people can turn on the telly or show up at a ground for a few hours of T20 slog, and I am sure that time commitments and the desire to see some spectacular batting mean it is viable entertainment.
This annoys (and worries) me too, though I suspect that there's not much we can do about this. We're "the wrong kind of fans," I suspect. But one thing that is noticeable is that there seems to be an appreciable drop-off in batting skills and bowling speeds among young players now emerging from cricketing nations that have pivoted heavily towards T20. It's a strange (and not remarked on enough) contradiction that the skills needed to play T20 at a high level can only be forged through playing the longer forms of the game. Cutting back on the amount of 4- and 5-day cricket players are exposed to will have a deleterious effect on T20, as well as on players' ability to handle the first-class and Test game.
posted by Sonny Jim at 9:00 AM on December 7, 2017 [1 favorite]

If I can be afforded a more general rant on cricket...

Re: tests/ODIs/2020s
What's really interesting to me is how my appreciation for the game matured as I did.

It used to be that I really enjoyed one day cricket. It had a momentum and it's own narrative drive that made it great to watch when I was young. I couldn't understand the appeal of test match cricket. Why, when in one dayers, would the scoring rate reach 4,5, or even 6 runs an over while in tests it would be 3, 2, or even 1? And after 5 days of this you weren't even guaranteed a winner! Commentators would raptly describe a day long attempt to save a draw. I just didn't understand.

Eventually, I came to realise that there is so much more happening in test cricket than a batsman scoring runs. There is time for batsmen and bowlers to get settled in to their work. Time for strategy: in fielder placement, in bowling lines, in using complementary bowlers, in tactical sledging, and in so many other ways. Cricket is seen as a team game but in test cricket there is room for a battle of wits and wills between a particular bowler and a particular batsmen. And these rivalries can develop and mature over careers.

I had never considered that the sheer amount of willpower and stamina required to "save a draw" (avoid losing with no chance of winning) must be immense. And this after sometimes several days of batting, facing ball after ball after ball. The concentration and stamina that must require - to see the ball and react in a split-second for hundreds of times in a day. Bowlers can change but the batsmen must face the music until he's out.

Nothing compares to the atmosphere of a crowd at a really good test. It was only after I started going to test matches that I really got into it. I was fortunate enough to be at all five days of the 2013 test match at the Basin Reserve in Wellington when Brendon McCullum became the first New Zealand batsmen to get 300 runs in a test. Towards the end he was so clearly exhausted that he started flailing his bat and putting his wicket at risk. The crowd sensed his exhaustion and started clapping every dot ball (ball bowled without a run gained.) There was an electricity in the air. When he was getting close, hundreds of Wellingtonians left work early so that they could be there for history being made. I will never forget it.

After experiencing that, how could 20/20 be anything but a gimmick to me. And if it's wet it can devolve into a farce at 5 overs an innings. An ODI is still a good day out for me, but it still pales in comparison to a really good test.

As an aside, just wanted to say it seems Metafilter will never be a great place to discuss Cricket. I thank Wordshore for the attempts and hope he's back on Metafilter soon.
posted by Start with Dessert at 11:57 PM on December 8, 2017 [3 favorites]

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