Watching the Ashes – the spectator’s view

The greatest cricketing show on earth. Probably ? If not, it is arguably the one which is eagerly awaited more than any other around the  cricketing globe. 

Yet for the spectator back in ol Blighty, it can be very hard work watching, in fact it can be positively gruelling. So much for the players, at least they get a good night’s sleep before play begins. Not so for the spectator back home. It is such a very late start, with play commencing at well past the usual bed time hour and  then goes on for the next seven or eight hours, throughout the whole night. Furthermore, it may continue for the next four nights. It really is a war of attrition and only the toughest survive. 

The challenge is further heightened by the spectator getting no practice. The players prepare for months but the poor spectator is just an amateur and can ill afford to spend weeks staying up all night in preparation. Oh no, they just have to grin and bear it from the off, and face the consequences, rather like pitching up for a marathon without having done any training. It is bound to end in tears, if not disaster. The pain could last for weeks.

So why does the English cricketing supporter do it.? Well, simple, and as alluded to above, this  is always the most eagerly awaited series in test cricket. Going to bed early is criminal. 

Many decisions need to be made throughout the night and these cannot be taken lightly. 

Firstly, refreshments. Is coffee a good idea ? It could keep the spectator awake yet then again the avid and committed spectator will want to stay awake all night and watch the cricket anyway. However on a school night, there is work the next day. Such a dilemma.

Secondly, chocolate. Possibly fattening but the spectator will need some treats to keep them going throughout the night. Comfort food may be essential, especially when England collapse,  just like last night when six wickets fell in the space of about an hour. 

However, the weighing scales must be avoided for fear of further depression. There will most definitely be heightened states of anxiety, resulting from the deadly cocktail of lack of sleep and England’s batting 

Thirdly, sleep ? Nodding off ? Unusual sleeping positions ? The dangers of crick necks and such like cannot be underestimated. Dangers may abound from many sources. Many a bad back or other such strain has been caused from watching a whole session without moving and often watching in unusual positions. Tiredness can be a big factor too, especially like last night when the morning session lasted over two and three quarter hours No risk assessments. No health and safety reviews. Just get on with it. 

Further perils may be caused by falling asleep. The listener may lose track of the match and wake up to a completely different scenario to that which existed when last awake. Last night again, a brief closing of the eyes at about 1.15am when Malan and Ali were progressing serenely would have seemed perfectly fine. However, imagine the affect  on the heart of the spectator upon waking just over an hour later to hear that Broad has been caught in the deep to bring a close to the England innings? Such a shock really isn’t good for anyone, especially not for the ticker of those of advancing years. The only possible mitigating factor is  that such an event is quite commonplace for the England cricket team so the devout supporter will more than likely have experienced such drama before. Even so, no doctor would recommend an individual being put through such trauma on a regular basis. 

It is fascinating. The Ashes is unique. The spectator has to appreciate this and has to make the most of their viewing opportunities. It is a ritual which so many indulge in and simply cannot let go. Yet it is not without danger. Beware. 

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