One of Britain’s most articulate and thoughtful of bloggers, the academic Norman Geras, points out here that England and Australia’s Ashes rivalry is just that – Ashes rivalry, whereas India v Pakistan is nationalistic, religious, political: one of the great things about the Ashes is that it really is fierce sporting rivalry. Both sides compete at their highest respective level; both sides are desperate for victory; and, at the end of the game or series, both sides can share a beer.
Between 1989 and 2009 there were few occasions when the Australians respected England’s attitude or approach: many of us in England came to see the Aussie side as bullies. But that wasn’t the case. They wanted a proper game, wanted to see aggression and confidence, and responded with redoubled aggression when all they got was simpering and inadequacy.
Is sport war minus the shooting? In some cases, some places, maybe. In the Ashes, no. It’s a game, a game designed to test your skills and your attitude.
Except for the Bodyline series. Then things became a little more stressed…