I'm not a cricket fan, I share a view that its all a bit slow, goes on for days and always seems to end in a draw. However, I wasn't alone in obtaining a temporary membership of the cricket fan club during the 2005 Ashes.
There was one moment, at Edgbaston, I think, which was a microcosm of great cricket. England were toiling and a wicket seemed a distant wish. Flintoff bowled an over which increased in pressure with every ball, he conceded runs whilst he did it but finished the over with two wickets and a momentum that turned the game on its head. In football, conceding goals is considered cataclysmic, in cricket you concede runs for the greater good.
It reminded me of yesterday's winning penalty. Whether the foul itself was a penalty or not is disputable, but the pressure that had built up to that moment made a penalty almost inevitable.
I'm not the kind of person who will make claims about Oxford having the greatest fans in the world but Oxblogger's brother-in-law is a Tamworth fan and observed the way Oxford fans appeal for everything; "like Liverpool in the seventies". The pressure put on the referee by the play itself and the fans was as big a component on the award as the challenge on Pettefer.
Difficult to know whether this is unfair, or whether like in cricket, it's an oft overlooked depth of a game. It's certainly something Jim Smith seems aware of it; several players have remarked that they don't need to win games in the first five minutes, it's been repeated on a number of ocassions, and can only have come from one man.