Monday, September 12, 2005

On top of the world ma!

Sometimes, dreams CAN come true.

Nice one lads. You've delivered on the promise today. Thanks for the best summer's cricket I can remember and for making me more nervous than before my children were born.

And you Australians? Thanks for being good sports and putting up a fight. I spoke to a friend of mine who's moved out to Brisbane earlier this evening - he had stayed up until 4am to catch the end of the match and was looking forward to parading his England shirt to work later on that morning.

As a reward, why don't we give Duncan Fletcher the UK citizenship he wants and a knighthood to go along with it? [UPDATE - One down and one to go. It took 15 years, but Duncan's now British. Which jobsworth decided that he didn't meet the residency requirements because of his commitment to touring with the England team?]

Place your bets now on a certain F Flintoff being BBC Sports Personality of the Year - if there is any justice.

The series has been so close - I thought that it would end in an almighty Australian run-chase, such have been the twists and turns of the series and the match, but KP denied us that spectacle with his magnificent 150. It was good to see that Shane Warne (his Hampshire team mate) ran across to shake his hand as KP left the field after McGrath took his wicket. That epitomised a series that has been aggressive, but not personal. The teams have given everything out there in battle - you only have to watch Lee or Flintoff bowling, or see the rivalry between KP and Warne to understand that - but they've known when to switch that aggression off.

Thanks guys. (And also thanks to the England women's team, who started off by beating the Aussies as well).

Thanks to Richie Benaud, who has been a fixture in the sport in this country for longer than I've been on the planet and signed off today in a typically understated way - just as McGrath took Pietersen's wicket. We're going to miss your voice and your knowledge.

Finally, a repeat message to the Department of Culcha, Meeja n' Sport. Now would be a good time to stick two fingers up to Murdoch and relist home Test matches as guaranteed free-to-air. I've seen children playing cricket on street corners in the rain these past few weeks, inspired by the England team playing out of their skins at Edgbaston, Old Trafford, Trent Bridge and the Oval. They won't get that inspiration for the next four years, thanks to the short-sightedness of the ECB. Sort it out. The European courts are jumping all over Sky for sewing up the rights to football, so why not pre-empt them in cricketing terms by getting Sky/ECB to sort out a different package. Perhaps the Beeb could be persuaded to use some of their digital bands to carry coverage during the daytime - wouldn't that be a good push towards the digital switch-off in 2012?

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