The start of the Ashes Test series between England and Australia coincided with a period of sustained warmth and bright sunshine. In the wonderfully fluctuating opening match at Trent Bridge, Nottingham, Ashton Agar, a little-known 19-year-old debutant who was not included in the original touring squad and who until recently was playing club cricket for Henley, made 98 glorious runs in the first innings. He rescued Australia from a perilous position while making the highest ever score by a No 11 in a Test match.
Suddenly, it seemed as if every second person you met was talking about the cricket, just as they were in the summer of 2005, when England and Australia contested the closest and most gripping Test series in many decades. That was the last Test series to be broadcast on free-toview terrestrial television. Soon afterwards, the England and Wales Cricket Board sold the TV rights to Sky.
In his poem “Mother, Summer, I”, Philip Larkin writes of how his mother
Holds up each summer day and shakes
It out suspiciously, lest swarms
Of grape-dark clouds are lurking there . . .
Certainly in these islands, and especially after the long stretch of wet and floodwrecked recent years, we have become used to dark clouds in summer. No doubt they will return soon enough, so enjoy these warm, bright days while they last. Autumn – and the return of money-mad football – await us.