Bring On The Blue Oblong
The Ashes is nigh. And with it comes the nauseating realisation (as if I didn’t know before) that I will ingest approximately 60% of the action through a 5cm wide blue oblong at the bottom of my monitor at work, probably dwarfed by a large spreadsheet whose cells contain information on lip gloss stock or wrinkle cream sales or something. If the make-up of my computer screen was directly correlative to my actual interest then the cricket score would be projected out in cinematic technicolour and the sales figures relegated to a single tiny pixel.
I should consider myself fortunate: sales administrators in the olden days were unable to follow the deeds of Grace, Larwood or Bradman on their abacuses or typewriters. And I can seek solace in numbers. Come Wednesday, clerical factotums all over the country will busy themselves with the surreptious pressing of the refresh button, cravenly looking over their shoulders for a suspicious boss.
In 2005, the Guardian online coverage nourished the collective appetite with the over-by-over updates. As a side dish, they served up choice contributions from readers, so that the frustrations of office-bound cricket watching became a shared experience. A support group.
The other crumb of comfort is that if it all starts going hideously awry for England, say we’re 96-6 chasing 619-4 dec at Sophia Gardens, then I can make it all go away with one click of my mouse. Watching An Aussie Goes Barmy on ESPN Classic this week makes me glad I’m at a reasonably safe distance from potential humiliation. The show follows an Australian as he watches our last catastrophic tour Down Under from the enemy ranks of the Barmy Army. As England slink to another defeat at Melbourne, the ashen faces of the Army say everything: as if their very souls are being pulverised to oblivion with every swish of Andrew Symonds’ bat.
Bring on the blue oblong.