A Summer to Celebrate

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It's such a shame that Andrew Stone was so wide of the mark when writing about the Ashes cricket this summer (September SR).

As a player himself he inexplicably neglected what can only have been his admiration for the highest class of sporting drama unfolded over six weeks, in favour of an irrelevant sequence of hackish apartheid-era soundbites. For crissake - Shane Warne is cricket's Maradona or Pele. Andrew Flintoff is the new Ian Botham.

The only player Andrew mentions is Kevin Pietersen. Instead of getting into a race argument about KP, Andrew might have thought about the gay-baiting that Pietersen endures, even from his county Hampshire fans, because of his 'girly' image. I've no idea what KP's sexual preferences are, and of course that too would be irrelevant. But the fact that he is challenging sexist iconography by merely dying his hair or strutting the field with the proudest of gaits is something to celebrate, not ignore.

It has been the drama of this spectacle that has been its most significant aspect, with a session by session tug of war between the aging Aussie 'mean machine' and the young English pretenders to their crown. History played out in five very long acts. Not so much a paradigm shift as a mere power switch towards England, yet nationalism per se was actually very low on the emote-ometer. Glory, respect, camaraderie and fun were much more the order of each day.

There is a wider sociological point about the dominant TV imagery of the summer. Big Brother has been the ratings success in previous summers - a cause for great consternation. But more viewers turned on for the final session of the fourth test at Trent Bridge than for the Big Brother finale shown a few weeks earlier. That's got to be good news.

There was so much to enjoy, and even more to laugh and chat about. But I wonder if all that is a sin in Andrew's world? I doubt it. So why couldn't he express it?

Nick Grant