Ashes 2013/14: The Waking Nightmare of Watching the Ashes Overnight

Mark PattersonUK Staff WriterNovember 23, 2013

BRISBANE, AUSTRALIA - NOVEMBER 23:  Alastair Cook of England looks on during day three of the First Ashes Test match between Australia and England at The Gabba on November 23, 2013 in Brisbane, Australia.  (Photo by Chris Hyde/Getty Images)
Chris Hyde/Getty Images

For England cricket fans keen to follow the Ashes in Australia, the drill of staying up deep into the night to watch the play unfold is a time-honoured tradition, a part of the viewing experience as familiar as Richie Benaud's understated utterances.

But it's not all Aussie sunshine on your sofa in the UK. It's not always 2010/11 when England are thumping the old enemy in their own backyard.

Brisbane has so far marked a return to days gone by of torture by overnight cricket.

Day 3 of the first Test was especially painful because the game had all but been settled on Day 2 when England buckled for 136 all out.

They say Test cricket is a game which ebbs and flows, but what is more true is that it's a game where one bad session is often impossible to undo. England's 39-6 spell in the afternoon on Day 2 fits that tag neatly.

What is left for the fan on Day 3? The formalities—long and drawn out.

Getty (Edited)

Australia, having won the game, now actually have to win the game. And while they still haven't, your irrational heart beats faintly, hoping that maybe it can all somehow be salvaged. That perhaps 517-1 wasn't so much a magical one-off as a Gabba tradition. So you tune in.

Or, at least, you half tune in. You doze and you wake. You check the score and you close your eyes. You hear a scream and you're back in the room.

Perhaps, as you drift in and out of Michael Clarke and David Warner's lengthy partnership, you decide you weren't really holding out that faint hope—you actually just enjoy the pain. The anger. The pattern.

Reckon we’ve stepped into a Tardis and been transported back to 1990. Or 1994. Or 1998. Or 2002. Or 2006

— Jonathan Agnew (@Aggerscricket) November 23, 2013

And what a familiar pattern it is. The captain gets a century. Australia's pantomime villain, Warner, gets a century. The crowd cheer. The Barmy Army sings ironically. The tail slap quick runs. All that's left becomes the question of how many fidgety, awkward overs England are going to bat.

Yikes. 16 of them? It's coming up for six in the morning, but it's too late to call it off now. You must watch the batsmen's old failings exposed and inflict a last sprinkling of tragicomedy on your cornflakes.

For the viewer, it's a waking nightmare, entirely self-inflicted.

On a rough night, it can get still worse—you can disappear off into dreamland and conjure up a better score. This fan had Australia at 125-8 at one point last night, only to wake up, see the TV screen, and chalk off six wickets.

And you can never quite catch up your sleep, so you walk around zombie-like in the day, with only Warner mouthing off about Jonathan Trott being "weak" and the England players being "scared" for company. 

The evening will come. You'll think seriously about just getting a good night's sleep and getting back to normal.

But you won't.

You'll sign up for another night of this.