A Very Fond Flashback To The Worst Ball Ever Bowled In Cricket
Kids, let me tell you about the worst ball ever bowled on a cricket field and why it mattered.
That's how the conversation will start on the family couch tonight, ahead of the start of the 2019 Ashes at Edgbaston.
And to be honest, it won't really be much of a conversation. More a monologue. Basically just a wistful suburban father harking back to an ancient time around the turn of the millennium, when you didn't have to be a millionaire to buy a house, phones were used for actual phone calls, and the universe was a more orderly, predictable place.
The Australian men's cricket team symbolised this order. They were something that could be relied upon, their superiority to England as obvious as our superiority in meteorological and culinary affairs.
For 16 years from 1989 to 2005, Australia completely dominated England in The Ashes. Just absolutely owned them. Or to use a phrase popular at the time, we "pwned" them. (You might have to look that one up.)
There was a blip in 2005 when England stole the urn back through outrageously good fortune, a shaven-haired force of nature called Andrew Flintoff, and a blue-haired force of nature called Kevin Pietersen, who was very good at batting because Twitter hadn't been invented yet to distract him.
But everyone knew this was a hiccup in the sporting cosmos. No way would any England team come to Australia 18 months later and beat a side with McGrath, Warne, Ponting, Hayden, Gilchrist and friends.
Nup. Never gonna happen. And it didn't.
The moment you knew England was gone and Australia was back? The very first ball of the series. Yes, the infamous Harmison ball, when the England pace spearhead, who had been part of that 2005 side, bowled a first ball so wide, it ventured not just into another postcode but quite possibly another dimension.
"Whoooo... wide delivery taken at slip by the skipper. The nerves are showing already," commentator Bill Lawry enthused.
Even by Bill's excitable standards, he got animated early in the day. And by stumps, Australia was 3/346, well on their way to 600, a first Test victory, and an eventual 5-0 series clean sweep.
Kids, you seriously have to watch the video at the top of this story. Watch it, and know that omens exist. And know also that there was once a time when you didn't wonder what would happen at the start of an Ashes series.
You just knew.
And kids, it was a good time to be alive.