Parents and The Ashes

The Ashes Urn

The Ashes Urn (Wikipedia)

I am rejoicing.

It is quite a strange feeling for me, but British sport seems to have developed a backbone and started to win stuff.  Following on from the successful Olympics last year the British and Irish (though mainly Welsh) Lions beat Australia in the rugby earlier in the summer.

Justin Rose won the first golf major by an Englishman in 17 years at the USPGA and Andy Murray, a Scot, became the first British man since the 1930’s to win Wimbledon.

For me, though, the highlight is cricket.  I was brought up on terrible English cricket teams, constantly getting drubbed by the West Indies and then Australia, and to be honest practically everyone that was put in front of us.  No matter what the score, an English collapse was never too far away.

Then in 2005 the unthinkable happened and England beat Australia in one of the greatest Ashes series ever.

This year’s Ashes has quite lived up to the vintage of 2005, but it has still been exciting and, more importantly for me, England are now 3-0 up with 1 more to play.  It means England have won the last 3 Ashes series and 4 out of the last 5.  Oh happy days.

It’s a Dad’s Game

The undoubted man of the series so far has been Ian Bell.  He has always had the class but his temperament had been more questionable.  It seemed that he flattered to deceive, only ever scoring runs when his team mates had done all the hard work.  This time it has been different.  This time he has been the man to get England out of a series of holes.  He has been the leading run scorer in often difficult situations.

Many commentators have asked what has happened to Ian Bell to make him more steely.  One answer that I have seen a number of times is the fact that last year he became a father and this has given him a different outlook on life.  Whether this is true or not we will have to wait for his autobiography to find out, but I found it intriguing to think about how becoming a dad can change your outlook on life.  I know it has changed mine and will be writing about this in future blogs.

English: Mo Farah at the 2010 European Athleti...

Mo Farah wins again (Wikipedia)

There has been news and lots of talk recently about men taking paternity leave to be prest at the birth of their children and to be a apart of those all important first few weeks.  It must be admitted, though, that it is relatively easy to be father in professional sport.  Whether it is fair or not, it is accepted than some men will be sportsmen and must be away from their homes in order to achieve their potential.  I read yesterday how Mo Farah, the long distance runner, is almost a stranger to his young twin daughters because of his commitment to his sport.  This has largely been accepted as a price that has to be paid in order to be the best of the best.

Not Really a Mum’s Game


Women’s cricket (RaeAllen)

It must be far more difficult to be a mother when the sport you play is amateur and you have to juggle so many different responsibilities.  Women’s cricket has practically no money whatsoever so to play at the highest level means a far greater level of commitment that in the men’s game.  My utmost respect, therefore, goes out to Sarah Elliot who plays cricket for the Australia women’s team.  She had her first daughter 9 months ago and on 12th August, in her first test match since becoming a mum, scored a century that has put Australia in a dominant position against England.

Whenever one of the few journalists who is covering the game has mentioned this feat by Sarah they have made sure to also mention the fact that she is a new mum.

So perhaps the world hasn’t changed all that much.  Women still find it harder than men to compete and England (women) are still losing to Australia.

And of course our football team continues to be crap!


10 thoughts on “Parents and The Ashes

  1. “Then in 2005 the unthinkable happened and England beat Australia in one of the greatest Ashes series ever.”

    For me, the 2006–07 Ashes series is the highlight of my cricket watching “career.” Those were truly magic times. But with the loss of Justin Langer, Damien Martyn, Glenn McGrath, and Shane Warne, things would never be the same again for us.

    • Yeah, I tried to gloss over 2006-7. It was perhaps the lowest of many low points.

      You had one of the greatest ever teams with those players and you’ll probably never see another one like it again. Just the aura of McGrath and Warne were probably enough to beat us.

      I reckon the return games in Australia later this year should be good as you seem to have quite a good bowling attack. All you need is a bit of consistency with your batting.

      • Although he is playing his dodgy back must be having an effect. It is a shame because he is your one truly world class player and a joy to watch when he gets going.

        Do you think he is the right person to be captian, though? I reckon he suffers from the fact that he is too good and can’t understand why the rest of his team doesn’t play like he does.

  2. I enjoyed reading this and seeing the positive focus on what becoming a parent can bring to the sports field. This is particularly refreshing as I remember Paolo Di Canio (while manager of Swindon) publicly saying that one of his leading players hadn’t been as enthusiastic since becoming a dad (see:

    On the subject of sports and parenting issues, have you seen Scott Behson’s recent articles about paternity leave policies in American baseball on his blog ‘Fathers, Work and Family’? Here’s a link to the most recent one:

    • Hi Jonathon,

      I hadn’t seen that blog, so thanks for linking to it.

      I’m never quite sure what to make of Paulo Di Canio. One the one hand he has been a great sportsman and even gave up an open goal playing for West Ham (I think). On the other hand there is his dubious political views. Should this impinge on his job?

      I have heard other managers, for example Sir Alex Ferguson, claim they prefer it when a player has a wife and family because it means they won’t be out on the town all night long. I guess it couild go either way and it dpeends on the player.

      • I think that Paolo Di Canio is quite a contradictory character. You’re right about him picking up the ball when faced with an open goal because the opposition goalkeeper was injured (near the end of a match for West Ham away to Everton). On the other hand, he also got a pretty long suspension for pushing over a referee while he was playing for Sheffield Wednesday.

        It’s hard to know where to draw the line about dubious political views impinging (or not) on someone’s job.

        I’ve heard the type of anecdote about Alex Ferguson that you mentioned a few times. When he was at Aberdeen, he reportedly heard about one of his players moving into his own flat an more or less ordered them to move back in with his parents.

        Ultimately, I think that footballer managers (and people running teams in other sports) need to try to be parent and family friendly employers just as certain companies aspire to be.

      • You’d think when a sports team is only interested in how their athletes perform they would be bending over backwards to make every other aspect of their lives easier to deal with, no matter what was going on. Maybe there just isn’t enough empathy towards modern parents in the world of sport and it isn’t seen as a major issue for some people.

  3. Hi Stephen, I remember the 2005 Ashes, partly because you – more of a cricket nut than me – were still with us in London then (right?). Your utter glee then is still memorable! well, we were all ecstatic to beat the Aussies at last!

    This new trend of British sporting success continued last night with Christine Ohorughu’s amazing dip in the last centimetres of the World 400 metres to take the gold. Just fantastic.

    But as you say, our national football team is still rubbish – and unfortunately I can’t see that changing for many years to come…

    • Hi Josh,

      I will never forget that summer of the Ashes and working at SGI. Every break I had I used to pop down to the pub to check on the score and have a glass of orange juice (I swear it was orange juice and nothing stronger). Everything about that summer was just brilliant!

      I read about Christine Ohorughu winning the gold and I was chuffed she won. I haven’t been able to watch much due to time differences and work. Unfortunately, not many Russians seem to be watching too much of it either.

      I have my fingers crossed that England qualigy for the World Cup at least, otherwise my life here will not be worth living. I might be in Lodnon looking for a job for a few weeks 😉


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