Ashes 2019: The urn eluding England despite a drawn series shows how sport can be a great equalizer
Andy Zaltzman, the famous British comedian and author, made an astute comment post the 2019 Ashes series, in his inimitable manner. He tweeted, "England won the World Cup without winning the final; and lost the Ashes without losing the series. Thanks be to Cricket. Amen."
Zaltzman's words perfectly captured the sentiments of cricket fans all over the world. Millions had felt the pain of the crest-fallen New Zealand players who saw the 2019 ODI World Cup slipping out of their grasp.
This was despite the fact that they had actually tied the final, and in fact would have won the match if the umpires had not made a grave error of judgment (albeit without malice) while awarding five runs off that Martin Guptill throw ricocheting off Ben Stokes’ bat.
More than three decades earlier, it was England who were at the receiving end of the officiating referees' error of judgement, albeit in a different sport - football.
The 1986 FIFA quarterfinal match between England and Argentina is remembered as much for the 'Hand of God' goal by Diego Maradona, as for his second goal of the match, which is widely considered the 'goal of the century'. In that stunner of a move, Maradona single-handedly dribbled past five English players before slotting home the most perfectly timed strike.
They say fortune favours the brave; you creates your own luck. But sometimes sports, as indeed life, can be quite cruel.
There is no grudging England their first World Cup trophy. But in a quirk of fate, the wheel seems to have turned and it is now England who must be feeling the pain of losing a trophy despite not losing a series.
The 2019 Ashes was an evenly contested affair, and certainly the best Ashes series since that famous 2005. There were many memorable moments, and some superb individual performances, most notably by Steven Smith and Ben Stokes. A drawn series is a fair result, no doubt.
Contrary to what some commentators are saying, the urn not being shared by the two undefeated teams but being retained by Australia is actually quite fair. It is fair not just because Australia were the winners of the previous Ashes series, but also because England failed to hit more boundaries than Australia!
Zaltzman is right. Amen to cricket, and to sports in general.