I have much to write about our family holiday, but the fortnight culminated in a day at the Test: the second day's play at Headingley, England vs Australia. Cricket: the Sideways Game.
Taking up a batting stance, one's body is looking square of the wicket, head turned to look at the umpire and incoming bowler.
For a bowler, the perfect action is side-on, a cartwheel of arms to release the ball 22 yards towards the sideways batsman.
For the majority of fielders their positioning is to the side. Anything further round than 3rd slip and you are viewing the game from side-on.
So all the technique has to be learnt sideways. And, for us the spectators, our view is with the fielders. Some seats line up with Third Man or Long On, but the majority are watching the game from the side, trying to grasp some of the nuances by inference. Did he hit the ball cleanly? Was that one that he left so dramatically sailing past the stumps within inches or feet? Should he have been given out lbw?
My wonderful husband is very tolerant of my love of cricket. He entertained the children. (It appears that, even in the Family Stand, uninterested 6-year-old girls are not common nor greatly appreciated.) However, his most recurrent comment (complaint?) all day was that he couldn't see the ball. From the moment it left the bowler's hand until it was either hit by the batsman or caught by the keeper it was impossible to see. Presumably a ball travelling at 90mph left-to-right moves faster than the eyeballs can, or faster than the brain can interpret the signals. Yet when he peeked through from more straight on, he could watch the ball turn, seam and swing.
For England, it was a disastrous Test. For the batting to collapse once was tragic, twice was inexcusable. Broad's best test bowling figures of 6-91 followed by 61 with the bat should be praised, but for a team to be relying on its number 7 and 8 batsmen to retrieve any dignity does not bode well for the final test at the Oval.
But who knows? It may be a sideways game, but anything can turn it upside down.