How to watch the Ashes like a pro
Since time immemorial, or at the very least since 1882, the English and Australian cricket teams have been getting together to do what they do best – batter each other into submission. The Ashes get underway in England today but if you missed out on tickets, there’s no reason to despair. This is the first of back-to-back series and with our handy guide on how to watch The Ashes, we’ll soon have you enjoying this genteel sport like a seasoned pro.
Although the hosting of the Ashes is supposed to alternate between England and Australia every two years, this year the ‘Ashes 2013’ term is somewhat of a misnomer. That’s because the following Ashes series has been brought forward to no longer clash with the One Day International World Cup, meaning these two old rivals will turn around and start their squabbles anew for a second series beginning in November. That means these bitter foes will go at each other for no less than 10 Tests within the next six months, giving you plenty of time to brush up on the finer points of the game – how many beers to consume per session, when’s the best time to duck off to the loo and which side of the tennis ball you should tape up for the most effective backyard outswingers.
The official 2013 Ashes Tour kicks off at the atmospheric Trent Bridge in Nottingham, which Wikitravel informs us is an old market town known as the “Queen of the Midlands.” Most importantly, the ground not only lies along the banks of the meandering River Trent, it’s also close to one of the sport’s most important institutions – a friendly pub. The Trent Bridge Inn has been making cricket more watchable since 1838 and will invariably be the first port of call for thousands of enthusiastic English and Australian fans eager to kick-start the Ashes in style.
One of the great joys of an Ashes Tour is the chance it gives to see several cities in a short space of time. This year’s tour of England makes its way from Nottingham down to the capital and a clash at the historic Lord’s, before winding its way back north for the Third Test at Old Trafford in Manchester. The north-east gets its share with the Fourth Test in the wonderfully named Chester-le-Street, before London takes a second bite of the cherry with the final Test at The Oval. That means if you were lucky enough to score tickets to this restlessly sold-out series, you too can meander through the English countryside like the merry folk of yore.
Of course, while it’s fun to see the sights of England, watching a bit of cricket is just as important. There’s a strong emphasis on “a bit” because much of your time will actually be spent bantering with good-natured English fans, lining up for fish and chips or frantically tuning your radio to block out the Barmy Army’s 131st rendition of “A Message To You, Rooty” for the day.
On his first Ashes tour, future Australia captain Kim Hughes made a rookie mistake – he seriously misjudged how much he could drink. Lured into a drinking contest on the flight over, Hughes bolted out of the gates by slamming down several early gins, only to pass out by Singapore. It’s a trap even the most experienced of cricket aficionados can fall into and if you’re not careful, you too could miss plenty of action.
The trick to watching cricket whilst drinking is to pace yourself. The game can be painfully dull without the right amount of inebriation, but if you pull a Kim Hughes, you could miss some of the best action – much of which takes place in the fatigued final session of the day. The same goes for timing your beer runs – make a mistake and you could miss Peter Siddle take another hat-trick – so try and pick your moment. A flock of seagulls congregating at mid-wicket as Michael Clarke approaches his triple century is generally a good rule of thumb.