Many congratulations to the English cricket team for winning the Ashes again! I’m on holiday this week, so I haven’t written anything, but as a long standing fan of a certain small, ginger English batsman I read this opening to the Guardian OBO coverage by John Ashdown and thought it was so good, I should share it with you. Enjoy!
There was a boy. And the boy was doubted.
Over time, the boy became a man. Many runs did He score and many times voices were raised to proclaim His centuries, bringing great joy to His people. And yet still He was doubted.
Some called Him king. The doubters did not call Him king. The doubters saw flaws, His followers saw a man of their ilk, human in His fallibility. The doubters saw weakness, His followers saw a different kind of strength, one that echoed their own path. The doubters spat bile, His followers lifted their shields to deflect those words of hate, and the hate was turned upon them. Though they were few, His followers were bold and had great courage. They bowed their heads and braved the taunts and the endless torture of the beast Magraa in 2005, replayed not on televisions but upon the very plasma screens of their souls.
Springs followed winters. Summers followed springs. Leaves lived and fell. Years passed.
And lo, the Ashes of 2013 began. And lo, He did put the Australian bowlers to the sword with many runs. And the voices were raised in proclaimation to bring the good news of His centuries to the people of the land. Many did flock to the colosseums to see His blade flash and dab down to third man for a couple. The oversized Oompa Loompas, the Bananamen, the Flintstones, the Priests, the Borats, the Super Marios, the Scooby-Doos and Smurf after Smurf after Smurf did lift many a plastic glass in His honour.
And with each run carved into the rock of history did His doubters begin to turn their doubt upon themselves. Their eyes grew afeared as they saw what He had become. But so deep was their doubt that in the dark crevasses and cracks of their hearts they doubted still.
At last He came to the river side. And He did fail. And even those who had never given up hope shook their heads with grief and knew in their hearts that this indeed was a bloody shocking shot quite frankly. They bowed their heads. When they lifted them they saw through the tears the smiles of the doubters, their jagged teeth shining through oily jaws. And this filled their hearts with pity. And with anger. And with that they knew. They knew they still believed. They knew they still had faith.
And lo, they did come to the second dig. His comrades did fall. The sky grew black. But He did not fall. One by one they abandoned in the face of furious attack. But he did not wilt, nor did he fall to his knees and beg for the mercy of the good lord DRS. He stood. And He stood. And He stood. Until at last, with a ropey front foot prod forged from the fires deep within His soul, He made the voices of His people rise once more. For again He was a centurion.
The doubters scattered, bereft and broken. Tears did fill their eyes. Some pleaded for forgiveness. Some donned masks. Some scuttled for the dark and the filth and were welcomed back with open arms that clawed the meat from their bones even as they embraced.
And all was quiet.
The scribes came to Him and they asked him for His words.
“It was,” He began, ” a good challenge out there.”
The scribes wrote his words on their tablets of metal and light, to be saved for the ages. But still they asked for more.
“I was pleased,” He boomed, “to score a century.”
He paused. Tapes whirred. Ink dripped. Breaths held.
“It was,” He said at last, “a good challenge.”
And the scribes were happy. For though he had no kingly words he had a kingly bearing and his with his actions he had shown he was indeed kingly.
The doubters were gone. And in their place grew hope. And the land rejoiced and sang His name.
And His name was Ian Ronald Bell.