For me, last weekend was just about perfect. On Saturday afternoon, I watched the English Rugby team destroy the Irish at Twickenham as they continued an impressive run up to the Rugby World Cup. I am a huge rugby fan and can’t quite believe that the English coach does not call before games to discuss his final selection with me, but it is a burden I must bear. I feel very optimistic that the England team is peaking for Japan and will take us all the way. The way we played left me buzzing that night.
The next day we took Jan’s new horse Jerry to the local Cornwood Horse show and had a lovely few hours. Jan has competed at national level over many years and has done well but is now looking just to have fun. Local horse shows are a wonderful day out in the countryside, with people from all backgrounds exhibiting their ponies and horses: some well-behaved some not, some stunningly beautiful, others,well….much loved. The weather was perfect and the countryside spectacular with glistening Dartmoor in the background. I hope they will keep going for many years to come.
So two uplifting events in a row, a smile on my face. But the best was yet to come. I am not great at watching England play cricket when things are going badly. When we lost quick wickets in the Ashes test on Sunday it was time to take the dog for a walk through the neighbouring woods. I got back just in time to see last-man-in Jack Leach walking to the wicket with 74 runs still needed. No hope. I steeled myself to watch the final few balls…and then kept watching and kept watching as Ben Stokes kept smacking the ball over the boundary rope, in the end bringing off a momentous victory.
I am old enough to remember the mighty antics of Ian Botham in 1981, but what Ben Stokes achieved in last Sunday, against all the odds, was quite extraordinary.
I come back to a point I made in this column a few weeks ago. There are lots of good people out there, but only a few are capable of greatness. They tend to have flaws in their characters that are the flip side to their gifts. Stokes had a terrible 2018 with off-the-field incidents. He has now twice been our saviour on the field in 2019.
A great weekend.