In the end, it was a good Test, but by no means a great one, and Australia won running away, downhill, with a tailwind. It lasted four and a half days. The big story lines are Steve Smith and England’s woeful performance. But there were other stories. Stories that were above-the-fold news on Cricinfo but now seem like they happened a thousand years ago. Rory Burns’ remarkable all day century. Australia falling off a cliff at 122/8. Stuart Broad’s five-for. Jimmy Anderson pulling up injured and then coming out to bat in the first innings. Broad and Woakes’ 65 run partnership. Warner doing the opposite of Steve Smith in his return to Test cricket. The coin toss. The rain delay. The fancy dress. And the list goes on.
The story, for me, though, is day five. In the morning. The stadium sparse and quiet after a rollicking weekend. Low clouds. A dull murmur from the crowd. The commentators mostly silent. A few wickets go down and the wind comes out of the day’s sails and Australia start to pull away and the outcome becomes less and less muddy. It’s Australia’s day and the fans all know it. But they stick around. Applauding politely here, chanting impolitely there. It feels like a wind down. It’s a falling action. The teams are just playing out the overs. The mood in the stadium is night and day compared to Sunday or Saturday. It’s like the morning after a party and the last few drunks are still out drinking on the patio as the sun rises.
I love a quiet Monday day five. It’s one of my favorite things in sport. And today delivered, even if the England batsmen did not. Every day of every Test is its own story, with different heroes and different goats. Moeen Ali. Rory Burns. Steve Smith. Nathan Lyon. But a Monday day five is like a different planet. Not even the same game. And it goes to prove just how vast a Test match is.
“Life is short” is a common idiom. But the opposite is true: life is actually very, very long. Five days is a drop in the bucket of our lifetimes. If we live to be 70 we will experience over 25,000 days. Five days is .02% of our whole lives. But look at all that happened in those five days, just at Edgebaston? 1,291 runs. 187.8 overs. Over 1,100 deliveries. And then there was El Paso. And Dayton. India revoking the status of Kashmir. Strikes in Hong Kong. An air strike in Libya that killed 43. A ferry capsizing in the Philippines killing 31. Russian police cracking down on protesters, arresting 800 people. 500,000 at the Pride Parade in Amsterdam. Ebola spreading out of the Congo. A terrorist attack in Yemen killing 19. All of that — and more, so much more, small moments of kindness, quiet moments of tenderness, car accidents, walks on beaches. Births, deaths, and everything imaginable in between.
Since Thursday, there were 54 Major League Baseball games. But just one Test. Five days. Life is very short, but it is also very long. And that was proven out once again this morning in Birmingham.
On to the next one then.