I have spent the last two and a half months tuned intently on the British Broadcasting Corporation online radio feed. Now, you must be wondering why I would be listening to the BBC. In fact, it was to listen to a game that so many have heard of, but few know. Yes, I mean cricket.
Sure, as the old stereotype goes, the sport is for the prim and prissy gentlemen of England, who rack up an atrocious number of runs (compared to cricket's bastard American cousin: baseball) and still end up with no result. But once you have watched or listened to a game, especially during the Ashes, you cannot help but be hooked.
Now, what are the Ashes, you ask? The Ashes are a series of tests (or matches)--each lasting up to five days--between England and Australia. The rivalry makes the Calgary-Edmonton Battle of Alberta look like undying love (even on a bad day).
Born in 1882 after England was defeated in a match by lowly Australia, the media hailed the loss as the "death" of English cricket, and the "ashes" were with the Australian side.
The English then went on to win the next series in Australia. After their win, the captain of the English side was given a tiny urn with the ashes of bails--the two little things that are on the top of the three sticks (or the wicket)--as a token of their "recovery" of the "ashes." Since then, England and Australia have been fighting every two years for control of that little urn of ashes.
Believe me, it's not your ordinary rivalry at play here. Despite the cordial sportsmanship, both sides do not like each other very much--especially since Australia has won the last nine series. This year, the English finally won, ending Australia's possession of the Ashes.
For a budding international-sport-besides-soccer fan such as me, this Ashes series was a great introduction to the game. Sure, it might mean forfeiting sleep for five days during a test, but it's the true way to enjoy something so good that only comes around once every couple of years!