If New York is a city like no other, then the Ashes is cricket’s day in the Big Apple.
The smells are known to me. We’ve seen big buildings before. Everything is just so much better now.
It begins before anyone else gets there.
The wise commentators, the past captains and legends, raise their brows as they pass in the hallways. This look says “here we go” without having to say a word.
It’s been there for the whole night. That feeling in your stomach, which is a mix of joy, fear, and nerves, but has no name yet.
Just after 9 o’clock, the team buses pull up. The English came first, wearing bucket hats, and then the Australians.
“Have you got your sandpaper, Dave?” People are booing, but some are shouting, “Broady’s gonna get you!”
The Ashes has become a mix of a cricket game and a play, with David Warner as the clear enemy. At Edgbaston, the traditions of Wimbledon are mixed with a night of darts.
The players come out for their warm-ups, if that’s still what you call them. As the crowd slowly grows, England plays football and Australia plays a sport called “Aussie Rules.”
Each team plays, but Steve Smith just looks at the pitch and points.
Root gets a century as England bat on day one of the TMS show.
Follow day one at Edgbaston through text, TMS audio, and in-play clips.
As the leaders, Ben Stokes in a blue blazer and Pat Cummins in a green one, come out, the tension grows.
When the coin falls in England’s direction, people cheer.
There is fire before the play starts, because, why not? Those are the ashes.
Sir Alastair Cook, who used to play on these mornings but now talks about them, brings out the famous urn with flames on either side.
“Come on, England,” is a Brummie cry. It is said again and again by the people around until it spreads across a stand.
At no other Test does this happen.
So, Australia took control of the first ball: Steve Harmison hit a wide, Michael Slater hit a four, and Mitchell Starc bowled Rory Burns.
All three were gut-punches from Australia in the first second. All three series finished with England losing, which was very discouraging.
Until it does, it doesn’t matter.
People who have been through the first Ashes salvo fall into two groups. Those who say “it’s just another ball” and those who call them “bluffers.”
One person will say that everything sounds like white noise, while the other will say that they can hear every word even though their heart is beating in their mouth.
This time, it’s Zak Crawley’s turn, and Pat Cummins is 30 yards away. Cummins is a fast bowler who could have been made in an Australian factory.
When Cummins shows up. As his heels flick, eyes follow him. We’ve all been waiting for months.
Then comes the release, when all the feeling that has been building up for weeks finally comes out.
Crawley, all by himself among the Baggy Greens, cracks the ball to the boundary.
With a roar that wouldn’t be out of place after a World Cup-winning goal, the Hollies stand goes up. This is where the Popes, Cardinals, and Flintstones are sitting.
Josh Hazlewood, another live Australian great, is up next. He is sent to deep backward square by Crawley.
Is this going on? Both of Australia’s first two bowlers hit the boundary with their first balls in the Ashes. It’s never happened before.
The reality check comes next, when Ben Duckett nicks behind.
He leaves, but as soon as Ollie Pope joins the fight, the crowd cheers.
If one falls, the other will take his place. In Birmingham, 25,000 people believe in Bazball.
With 66 runs and one Australian wicket in the first hour, England is in the lead. In the second hour, Australia is making a comeback.
What’s the meaning? Did Australia feel scared? The discussion will go on all day and start up again when Australia wakes up.
The story that never ends is The Ashes.