Christa Ackroyd: Why the World Cup cricket was more than just a game

Let’s not get carried away. Cricket can be boring. I know, it has been part of my family for more than thirty years.

England's Chris Woakes (left) and Jonny Bairstow celebrate winning the ICC World Cup Final at Lord's, London. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Sunday July 14, 2019. See PA story CRICKET England. Photo credit should read: John Walton/PA Wire.

I even got married on a Friday so my husband could captain his local side the following day. We won, as I recall. Though I am still not sure which event was celebrated the most.

The family joke was the only time it could be guaranteed said husband would be wearing clothes that actually matched was when he donned his cricket whites.

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You had to laugh when from April to September you spent all weekend watching a game that could take six hours to play and even longer to discuss in the clubhouse afterwards.

Cricket teas were a nightmare for a busy working woman with young children.

I ignored the disapproving looks from the older cricket ‘widows’ as I unwrapped shop-bought cakes instead of serving up delicious home made offerings. Life’s too short to ice a fondant fancy. Not that the players noticed.

In fact quite frankly I could have been wearing less than a Love Island contestant and still not have been acknowledged behind the counter as long as the sandwiches and pots of tea were flowing.

But that is how we spent our Saturdays. No scrap that. That’s how the family spent Saturdays.

My husband also spent at least two evenings a week in the nets, practising or coaching the juniors, attending selection meetings, or just popping down to the club for a chat with the same group of players he would be seeing at the weekend.

And I swear one of his proudest moments was when he took to the field with his son on the same team and his eldest daughter in the score box. That and being called to the Yorkshire nets as a junior. Twice we have travelled Down Under for the Ashes. Twice we lost.

Which is why Sunday’s World Cup victory was so special. This was a cricket match, a sporting event, with bells on. And not a ham sandwich in sight. Three generations gathered around three devices watching the cricket on the big screen, the Grand Prix on the tablet and checking the tennis on the

phone, including aforementioned scorer daughter and eldest granddaughter who ironically now live in Australia.

It was happy, chaotic and ecstatic and one of the best sporting moments we have ever witnessed as a family. It was certainly the best cricket match I have ever seen. And trust me I have seen a few.

There were one or two scary moments, apart from what was happening on the field.

In the crucial last over of real play the TV announced it was closing down, going on standby.

Where’s the remote, we screamed, as cushions were thrown from the sofa until son-in-law grabbed it as triumphantly as England grabbed the draw, while granddaughter number one started crying that we were all being just too loud. Which we were.

All this and three year old granddaughter number two was so caught up in the drama of the super over she was still chanting England win win win , even when we had, though we all had to stop and double check that we actually had done as we tried to hear what was happening above the din.

The one year old just looked at us as if we had all gone mad. Which of course we had. It wasn’t just Theresa May dancing.

It was a stupendous victory for England and a victory for competitive sport. Whatever they say about it being the taking part that counts, I am sure New Zealand were not experiencing that particular misnomer in the losers dressing room.

Whether the game is reinvented remains to be seen. That depends if it is reinvented in schools. But at least everyone had the opportunity to see the best advert for a sport which has been the poor relation of football for far too long. It was a genius decision by Sky to allow the final to be shown on terrestrial television. The truth is the only reason the country has gone cricket crazy is because eight million of us shared in the experience. Together. This was our ‘66 moment.

If you watched it then, like me, you will always remember where you were and who you were with when England’s cricketers won the World Cup. And if you didn’t, I bet you wish you had done.

Now about that women’s Netball competition...