To appreciate the highs you need first to have experienced the lows. And today has more than made up for the stresses and strains I've put myself under over the last three days. At times I wonder if the importance I place on sport is too high that I simply care too much. Actually, I know I care too much, but sometimes I wonder whether it's actually worth it.
When England were 125 for 4 in the first innings and throughout yesterdays two opening sessions I underwent a fair amount of soul-searching. Sitting in the stands looking down on the action for hours on end allows plenty of time for reflection. At times I even wondered if this is really what I want to be doing with my life. Apart from family and friends for months on end with the highs and lows of emotion linked to events on a cricket field. Sure it's nice to be in the sun, yes, I'm lucky to be paid to do what I do but do I really want to travel thousands upon thousands of miles to watch England lose another Ashes series 5-0? Well, after watching a miraculous days play unfold I can confidently say that I won't have to.
To wax lyrical about a day where England fought their way back into a position of parity rather than domination may appear to lose the point slightly. But it is the manner in which they have battled back on four separate occasions that has inspired me. Firstly to come back from Strauss's third ball duck in the first innings and two quick wickets to get themselves to 194 for 4. Then to haul Australia back twice in their innings from 78 for 0 to 143 for 5 & again from 450 for 5 to 481 all out. Coming through the final hour last night unscathed and then today's performance. It sends out the message to the Aussies that no matter how many times you knock us down we're going to come right back at you. It speaks volumes for us and says just as much about them. To pick yourself up off the canvass once against the Aussies of four years ago would have been impressive to do it four times would never have happened.
But back to the present and after spending the first two sessions in exactly the same spot I finally ventured up to the stands to watch the final passage of play with Nathan. He'd tipped us to score 550 and win the game last night and England are closer to his prediction than mine. It was stirring stuff to sit in the gods, one eye on the action, one eye on the scoreboard as Trott and Cook made merry. Despite the gloom that covered the Gabba all day today and forced the players off for bad light the future looks bright. This series is well and truly alive and I'm happy to be following it!
But one word of warning as I wait for Ricky Ponting to stop shouting at his players and allow one of them to attend the end of play press conference. Today has been my third greatest day of Ashes cricket in Australia. At one and two were the first two days at Adelaide where we racked up 550 and had the wicket of Justin Langer at close. The Aussies battled back though and going into day five I went to the Adelaide Oval with a book under my arm awaiting the certain draw. Like today England were leading by less than one hundred with 9 wickets in hand and the only batsmen dismissed then as now was Strauss. I don't need to go over what happened on that final days play because I still can't really talk about it. But rest assured the paperback will be left behind in the hostel when I make my way to the ground tomorrow.