Saturday, 13 July 2013

Trent Bridge Ashes Bookends

A curse or a blessing? You decide. 

As a confirmed England cricket supporter there have been many years of pain and forlorn optimism. The 2005 Ashes series changed that. Like City supporters, England followers believe that if something can go wrong, it surely will. 

Back in 1989 David Gower’s team of all the talents were pitted against Alan Border’s gum chewing Aussies. Persuading a young man of the Jackson family that it would be a great day out to go to the opening day of the Trent Bridge test seemed like a very good idea. It turned out to be special for all the wrong reasons. England did not take a wicket all day. 

As  the first two sessions unfolded there was hardly a sniff of a chance. The opening pair of Marsh and Taylor were watchful and controlled. Devon Malcolm huffed and puffed to little effect. The cricket was dull without the fall of a wicket to enliven proceedings. The third session became more and more fascinating as the batsmen, by now totally in control, upped the scoring rate and records began to tumble. The score of 329 still stands as the highest opening partnership in the Ashes. 

24 years later and this time it was the mother of the earlier young Jackson who was present when another remarkable event occurred. The Aussies were 117-9 and looking dead and buried when a young man of 19 entered at number 11. Ashton Agar joined the not-out Phillip Hughes with Australia in deep trouble. He batted superbly, surviving a stumping decision which took some believing, to bat with an ease and fluency that must have made his colleagues wince. Hughes played his part and made the English attack look toothless. 

Again record after record fell. He was finally out for a brilliant 98 much to the dismay of an enthralled, but anxious, home crowd. They would have enjoyed him getting a century on debut - but not too many more. He and Hughes transformed the game and probably the series. Agar now holds the record for a number 11 and the partnership of 163 was the highest for the last wicket - ever. 

The dilemma is whether to ever take a member of the Jackson family to an Ashes test at Trent Bridge ever again. Two visits: two record partnerships - for the Aussies!

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