I think it’s fair to say that what you see depends on what you’re looking for, particularly when it comes to figuring out the significance of what’s just gone down within the line of sight.
When the Australian cricket team takes the field I’m looking for a 5-0 result from a team that’s playing at 100%. Not that I expect to see it too often when we’re playing a top rated side in their home conditions, but that’s what I’m looking for, because it probably means there’s not much that could have been done better.
On that basis, of course, Hughesy’s hardly likely to describe the 2005 Ashes series as one of the greatest ever. It’s different if you’re looking at it from a different perspective, of course, and a series that goes down to the wire will certainly keep the spectators engaged for the duration.
Closely fought series are definitely worth watching, but, unfortunately, the dialectical dynamics of sport mean they don’t occur too often.
The way I look at these things (and here I’m setting up a framework that I can use to analyse what goes down over the next six and a half weeks) fairly early on in a two team event one side gains an ascendancy and the other side responds. Sometimes they respond strongly enough to gain the ascendancy, in which case it’s up to the other side to wrest it back, and that sort of pendulum swing continues until one side is no longer capable of turning the tide, and at that point you get a blow out in the score line.
To me, the great thing about Test cricket is the fact that you’ve got five days to act out that sequence of challenge and response.
Let’s talk hypotheticals for a minute.
Based on my par score scenario (Day One, batting side on 8 for round about 300), which I see as even stevens it’s up to the bowling side to wrap things up for something in the vicinity of 350, after which they get their turn at the crease and hopefully, given a decent batting wicket and the best of the conditions, end up somewhere around 4 for 250 at the end of Day Two).
At that point we’re still level pegging at the end of the day, but you’re still going to have those pendulum swings as the batting side builds a partnership and the bowling side gets a wicket.
By the end of Day Three in this scenario, your side that batted first should be back in, attempting to reel in a deficit of around a hundred, and would hopefully have accomplished that for the loss of one or two wickets, which means they’ve got Day Four to accumulate a target and Day Five to ensure the other side doesn’t reach it.
Ideally the victory target is reached inside the last half hour of Day Five and whoever bats Eleven on the batting side is at the crease.