by ACS literary scholar, Kobe Jacobs
In a do-or-die situation, England stood up to the task of keeping this current Ashes series alive. Their three-wicket win at Headingley was fuelled by constant barracking from the England fans over the four days, which might just have helped Ben Stokes’ men get over the line.
Since the now infamous Bairstow dismissal at Lords, it’s almost as though the home fans have transitioned into becoming feral rather than posh. Though we have seen many examples of when the Poms can get riled up. Take Steve Smith for example. In the 2019 Ashes series, throughout almost every Test match the former Australian Test captain was berated with untoward pleasantries. And now, four years down the track, he is still getting the same treatment.
Although Smith is still being targeted, I think the England fans have found their new victim and he goes by the name of Alex Carey. Clearly what he did at Lord’s wasn’t well received by the London crowd, but the animosity shown at Headingley was on a different level. The chant ‘shoes off if you hate Carey’ loudly rang around the Yorkshire crowd in which most patrons had at least one shoe off, proceeding to wave it about. This sort of hatred might just have stunned the Australian wicketkeeper, as well as the rest of the Australian team. There’s no doubt that this behaviour from the England fans is going to continue and ultimately it’s up to the Australians to block out the noise.
And whilst the England fans are stirring the pot off-field, the on-field performances from both countries have been tremendous. This has been a series that has almost transcended how we view Test match cricket. Never before has there been so much action and drama compiled throughout five days’ worth of cricket. Whether it be Ben Stokes’ powerful hitting or Mark Wood’s rapid bowling, there is always something to look forward to when watching both teams go at it.
For Australia, Mitchell Marsh’s belligerent knock of 118 which consisted of brute strength ultimately helped his team fight back from the pressure that was being applied from the English crowd. If it weren’t for the Western Australian, the visitors most likely wouldn’t have made it to Day 4. If there’s anything to take away from this game for the Australians, they need to be ruthless just like Marsh was in the first innings to ensure they retain the Ashes.
As England look to rise and become only the second team in Ashes history to come back after trailing 2-0 since Sir Don Bradman’s side in 1936/37, this leaves Pat Cummins’ side at a crossroads. Do the Australians let this English wave consume them until the very end, or do they simply get the job done in Manchester and quieten the adrenaline-filled Poms? Regardless of what happens, expect to see more stimulating cricket filled with hard-hitting and fast bowling compounded with high energy levels from the fans. This is what Ashes cricket is all about and long may it continue.
Australian Cricket Society’s literary scholar Kobe Jacobs is mentored by writer John Harms. His pieces are also published at www.footyalmanac.com.au .