AT LAST, it is over. The disastrous Ashes series has come to its inevitable end. No more early-morning shock and dismay. Penny would switch the radio on at an early hour and the regular bad news would accompany our cup of tea. We kept hoping the team’s fortunes would improve. They did not – matters got worse.
Why did our form fall apart? We were favourites to win the series as we had done the three previous encounters with Australia. We were recently the top Test-playing nation. Not any more. Too many players passed their peak together – the successful side was kept together too long.
Had we relied for too long on itinerant South Africans? For a variety of reasons three of them, Trott, Pietersen and Prior, made little contribution. Where were the English players ready to take over? Apart from the splendid Ben Stokes no one else seems ready.
Matters were made worse by the previously excellent Graham Swann retiring mid-tour. Swann should have stuck it out to the end but found a personal slump in form hard to handle.
None of us should mind losing too much, but in this series it was the way we lost that upset me. We ended up throwing in the towel – in an Ashes series!
Cook, Root, Bell, Stokes and Broad may have Test futures and rebuilding will take some time. Perhaps before long we shall see Chris Dent and Craig Miles, true home grown Gloucestershire players being part of a new era.
There is good cricket news, however. The ECB have financed the purchase of the Sheepscombe ground. The club now own the field and following the success of their own fundraising can improve facilities.
Readers moan about TV cricket coverage being exclusively on Sky TV, forgetting that Sky pay large amounts of money for the privilege. This money goes to the ECB who use it to help the game at all levels, hence not just the Sheepscombe grant, but the prospect of them paying the lion’s share of installing floodlights at Bristol’s County Ground.
I do not know the details of where TV soccer money goes but I do not see much spent on the grass roots game. The question has to be asked – does too much TV cash result in players’ inflated salaries?
Despite there being no football, plenty of news is emerging from Nailsworth where FGR manager Ady Pennock has made two astute signings. Left back Jerome Williams has arrived for one month from Crystal Palace. He will cover for the much-missed Chris Stokes.
The main talking point is the signing of striker Lee Hughes. Some would not have him, as he was the guilty party in a traffic accident in which a father of four died. Lee was sentenced to three years in prison.
Following his release he came back into the professional game and has joined Rovers from Port Vale. My view is that he should be welcomed. Football has played a part in his rehabilitation and Lee has paid the penalty and done his time. For football to have shunned him would have been quite wrong.
Jump racing has, thanks to the spirit of those involved, survived the wretched weather. It cannot have been easy as the mud-spattered features of jockey Sam Twiston-Davis showed on New Year’s Day at Cheltenham. The new point-to-point course near Aldsworth is an exciting addition to the local racing scene. I must discover if it bears any relation to the long lost course that brought racing fame to the area. That course was towards Bibury and I think brought Charles II to the area.
I shall have to visit The Sherborne Arms at Aldsworth where all evidence is to be found. What a hardship!
Family theatricals take me to Birmingham on Thursday so I shall miss the Forest Green v Hereford game. Many readers can watch this on TV as BT Sport cameras are at The New Lawn. Kick-off is 7.30pm – enjoy!