Prior to World War II (WWII), World War I (WWI) went by the moniker of the Great War. For a conflict which bore absolutely nothing great about it, a misnomer on the most grotesque scale.
Calling it a war is even questionable in some commentators eyes. After all, the obscenity of some warfare strategies employed between 1914-1918 were little short of serving troops up as cannon fodder.
Less a war, moreover an invite for enemy troops to partake in a depraved fairground shooting gallery….. Like the goldfish served up as prizes at fairground stalls, many troops involved in trench warfare lucky to experience further existential longevity of a week.
Anyhow, today I’ve gone early at wandering off on a tangent from my intended essay topic. My subject today broaching the fact, like the Great War, 1981’s cricketing Miracle of Headingley will henceforth require renaming to the First Miracle of Headingley. A consequence of another extraordinary England Test victory over Australia at the headquarters of Yorkshire County Cricket Club. Yesterday’s theatricals taking on the name of Second Miracle of Headingley
Hero of the hour Ben Stokes smashing the winning runs to the cover boundary. The ball coming to rest at the stand advertisement hoardings around 30 metres or so from the Headingley memorial garden which is the final resting place of my late father’s ashes.
As the leather ball smashed into the advertising hoardings to signify an England triumph, I immediately thought of my cricket-mad old man. In particular, how much pleasure he’d have experienced witnessing this dramatic match conclusion. Events even matching the climatic England last ball victory in this summer’s ICC World Cup final, melodrama also orchestrated by kiwi-born Cumbrian Ben Stokes.
If the old man can get Sky Sports TV channel in his new celestial home, through misguided romantic notions, I’d like to think he got to see the Durham cricketer’s winning shot. History made in the game he loved above all other pastimes.
As I wasn’t witnessing proceedings in the ground itself, yours truly can’t bask in the glory of saying “I was there!” Maybe, though, I’ll seek a morsel of reflective glory by telling anyone who’s prepared to listen that on that historic cricket day my dad was there, in spirit or ash form…… Not that basking in reflective glory is big or clever!!
As Stokes powerfully cut the ball through cover to secure victory, I’d venture that the last thing on other England supporter’s minds would’ve been the location of my dad’s ashes. The only ashes interesting them those in a tiny urn currently being contested over in a five match series by sides from the home nation and our Antipodean cousins.
Unlike many sequels, 2019’s Second Miracle of Headingley probably usurped the 1981 original. Stokes’ superhero efforts perhaps worthy of Marvel Comic entry as a champion of English cricket, named Barmy Army Man***. A Robin Hoodesque paladin who takes the hopes of Antipodean’s, Asian’s and West Indians, giving them to the long-suffering English.
*** – The Barmy Army is the term of endearment bestowed upon a group of English cricket fans who travel the globe in support of their national team.
The final word on yesterday’s heroics has to be how relieved I am that my mother isn’t on the England cricket team’s selection committee. If her opinion of “I wouldn’t pick that Ben Stokes until he shaved that bleeding scruffy beard off!” had’ve come to fruition the Ashes would now be heading back to Australia!!