For those of us who love rugby and cricket, 2019 may well be remembered as the perfect year. Cricket: One day international world cup for men and women, both in the UK, followed by an Ashes test series against the old enemy. England has a good chance of victory in all of these tournaments. Its great that Heather Knight our ladies’ captain hails from Plymstock.
But in the autumn, something that makes some of us drool in anticipation, is the rugby world cup in Japan. We approach this with realistic high hopes.
At the same time the Lionesses are representing us in France in the woman’s football world cup, doing us proud so far. Wimbledon is about to burst onto our screens and the housewife’s favourite Andy Murray is back to winning ways. Others will take delight in Formula One or the Grand National.
Sport is important because for those of us who love watching it can inspire us. Janet has been known to tell people that if England lose at rugby, she can expect gloomy tantrums from her husband. This is not true, although I have noticed that Colin the cat hides away after English defeats, something I have never fully understood.
Sport can bring a nation together and heal divisions. Remember the London Olympics in 2012 – how long ago that seems. Our country is now deeply divided, and it will take powerful leadership to bring us back together or a series of extraordinary events. Perhaps national sport can play a part in that.
Sport can satisfy the natural aggression felt by some young people – far better to be on the terraces shouting for your team than in a trench fixing bayonets. Whether we like it or not, many of us do have deep passions and competitive urges within us. Better of this to be played out on the pitch than battlefield.
Sport can be a great distraction when other things are going badly. I intend to watch as much cricket as possible over the next few weeks and totally ignore the leadership hustings in my party.
England appears to have invented football, cricket and rugby and, during our Empire days, exported them all over the world. This should remind us we have an impressive history. Despite recent turbulence, we are a stable, creative and successful country. We are going through a bad patch, but a good sporting summer will encourage us that we will rise again.