Thursday, 11 July 2013

Ashton, Ricky and the unbearable sadness of batting

Two images remain from today, one of a 19-year-old lad who may already have played the innings of his life and the other from a 38 year old man who has no more left to play.

There was a moment after Ashton Agar's dismissal at Trent Bridge when he removed his helmet, hair plastered to his head, and gave a wry and gentle smile that contained emotions he probably can't quite express. It was all there though: joy, uncertainty, regret, relief...

His was a young man's innings played with a young man's sensibility. The fleeting nature of days like these means nothing to him yet, and nor should it. His mind was as free as his arms, his uncomplicated love of the game leant perfect expression. It was so good partly because it was so unexpected but also because it was a reminder of what it was like to be 19 years old and to believe that anything is possible.

The other image was a tweeted picture of Ricky Ponting leaving the Oval, bat raised, helmet under one arm, being applauded off after making 169 not out for Surrey in his final first-class innings. The Oval probably owed him one, and  it would have pleased him that this was a meaningful knock that saved a cricket match. But that is over now. His battles have been fought; the war is done. What will hit him soon is how quickly it all went by. Life will be good, but it will never be this.

The frenetic first couple of days of the Ashes seems to be a kind of psychic reaction to the sheer amount of media that now surrounds it. The modern world is screaming at it, online, on television, in the papers, demanding that it match the expectation. The result has been two chaotic days of cricket, vividly enjoyable but ultimately impossible to sustain. The game needs room to breathe.

Ashton Agar might be a new Vettori, or even a Pietersen (at 19, KP was still an off-spinner) or maybe an Alex Tudor or a Jason Krejza or a Richie Benaud, no-one can know. But whatever else happens, his innings will not be surpassed for its out-of-the-box unlikeliness and its glorious innocence.

The gap between it and Ponting's at the Oval, that brief window of time in which sportsmen have their lives and all of us are young, closes before anyone notices. What a day it was today.

7 comments:

Unknown said...

Quite lovely article. I saw those pictures of Punter and found it sad but somehow appropriate considering what was going on in the Ashes.

Tim Newman said...

I'm afraid I couldn't see past my rage over the mind-bogglingly stupid bowling tactics of England to Agar.

Cricket on Ashes 2013 said...

I have seen great potential in Ashton Agar's as a batsman from Australia.He’s having bright future ahead , scoring 98 against England in first test mach was superb to watch , Australian however could not secure the mach its because jim Anderson was on fire and Australian could not handle Anderson properly.I am eager to see next match and performance of agar, how he’ll take it forward. In the mean time best of luck for him.

SaraB said...

If you could post this link to the Keith Bradshaw Cancer Appeal I would be very grateful but completely understand if you don't deem it appropriate.
http://www.gofundme.com/3e2xqw
Thanks for your consideration and eternal gratitude in advance.
Kind regards,
Sara Bradshaw

Cricket & Kahuna said...

Nice Information and Observation, we also believe the same, Ashton Agars is good cricketer and moreover good all-rounder. Australia needs to utilize him properly.

Cricket Champ said...

Great Cricketing Sprit by Australian Yong Batman, He is the next start of Australia Cricket

Rafaela said...

Gorgeous!