Gloom, doom and cuts v barmy men hugging

A crushing cricket victory in Australia is good news for England fans. But does sport really have the power to change the national mood?

On Friday morning, 11 men in white trousers were seen hugging and kissing each other in the sun. Jubilations will continue among cricket fans all this week and beyond – culminating in the return of the victorious team to the UK next month.

Why so much celebration? England won the Ashes. Australia are England’s oldest rivals when it comes to cricket, and the Poms – the Australian nickname for the English - haven’t won a series there for nearly 25 years. That’s a long wait.

But this time, all the outstanding performances have belonged to England. The 644 they scored in their first innings in Sydney was the best ever total against Australia, while over the series, Alistair Cook set a new world record for time spent batting – 2171 minutes which is an amazing day and a half. He also scored 766 runs, which is the most anyone has scored against Australia since 1928. Many say that England can now go on and become the best cricket team in the world.

But it is a different story for the Aussies, who are not used to losing at cricket; and not even the floods in Queensland have diverted attention f rom this sporting humiliation. One Australian newspaper called the team ‘Our worst ever eleven’, and the fans are angry too.

A sheep farmer who travelled for eight hours to be in Sydney for the final match, said this: ‘It’s an unusual feeling for us. I feel like I’ve been put over a fence, and thumped repeatedly.’

Still singing
Back in England, Prime Minister David Cameron has been quick to join in the celebrations. Glad of a ‘good news’ story in these difficult economic times, he said: ‘It is a difficult year this year, but waking up in the morning and hearing of the brilliant exploits of the team has made the whole country proud and happy.’

But does sport really have this power? If you were one of the 2.5 million people presently unemployed in the U.K, would your country winning a game of cricket cheer you up? Some people doubt it, and also question whether anyone be proud of something someone else has done. They say that we can only be proud of what we have done ourselves.

England’s cricket fans, the “Barmy Army”, agree with David Cameron. They’re very proud, very happy – and still singing in the Sydney sunshine.

You Decide

  1. Some say that playing sport brings people closer together. Others think it makes people enemies. Taking into account your own experiences of playing sport, what do you think?
  2. Though football is more popular, Cricket is currently England’s national sport. If it was up to you, what would you have as England’s national sport and why?

Activities

  1. Get into groups. Imagine that you are a bunch of friends, some English, some Australian, watching or talking about the cricket. Perhaps the Australians think England have been lucky with the umpiring decisions. Or keep reminding them that Australia won the last series 5 – 0. What effect does the sport have on your friendship? Can you laugh about it, or do things turn sour?
  2. Imagine you are a sports writer for a newspaper. The editor has asked you to do some research and then write a short piece on the recent Ashes series. What would you write? Which bit of this cricket story most interests you?

Some People Say...

“Winning the Ashes is more important than politics”

What do you think?

Q & A

Why are the papers so full of cricket?
England have just beaten Australia, their oldest cricket rivals, to retain the Ashes.
What are the Ashes?
It’s a small urn of ashes that the two nations compete for, given to the English cricket team by some women from Melbourne back in 1882.
Why would they do that?
In 1882, England lost at cricket to Australia for the first time. Everyone was shocked, and a newspaper declared that English cricket ‘had died and been cremated’. The urn of ashes is a symbol of that, and its what the two teams now play for.
And did I hear David Cameron celebrating the victory?
Yes, our Prime Minister said the English win had made the whole nation proud and happy.
Why don’t politicians just stick to politics?
This is politics. He probably wants to attach himself to a good news story, so we like him more.

Subjects

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