The Ashes 2019 - Tantric Cricket
I'm in agony as I type this. On the radio in the corner, the commentary team from the BBC's Test Match Special are explaining and critiquing in excruciating detail the final day of the first Ashes Test between England and Australia from Edgbaston. England are being suffocated by Australia's Nathan "Gary" Lyon. Not being able to see the action makes things worse. The imagination can be so much more graphic than real life.
It's lunch on day five and, theoretically at least, all results are still possible - a win for either side or a draw (I couldn't take another tie after the World Cup Final at Lord's that I still can't believe actually happened). The two sides have been slugging it out for four and half days now. We've had 360 overs bowled during 13 sessions. There's been moments of brilliance (Australia's Steve Smith has a near monopoly on these), moments of humour (thanks largely to crowd) and moments of madness (why Jason, WHY!?). The much vaunted "ebb and flow" of Test cricket has been to the fore. Spectators have been through the wringer - from agony to ecstasy and everything in between. What's more this is just the first of five (five!) games. Should it carry on like this, I'll need something stronger than this tepid orange squash I've been sipping to see me through.
The match couldn't be in sharper contrast to most of what we now "consume" as entertainment. We've developed a taste for instant gratification, and we've decided it's moreish (Love Island being the exception - that was one hell of an emotional roller coaster - v happy for Greg & Amber btw). Attention spans have contracted while coverage of sport has exploded. This is neither the time nor the place for a rant about The Way Things Were - not least because I know you won't read a long blog post and, more importantly, I'm making every effort not to sound like my dad too much.
So, let's try to enjoy and preserve Test cricket by recognising what it is - a now almost unique spectacle whereby hopes can be raised and then dashed over the period of an entire week. It's draining, unrelenting and absolutely magical.
Rob Hamill is the host of "Nothing But Net" sports podcast.
Listen to more of him here.