The Australian cricket team was predictably sombre after visiting the graveyard of fallen Ashes heroes in France yesterday.
Cricket’s most famous cemetery had to be placed on the other side of the English Channel, because of a ruling by Her Majesty’s Cricket Council in 1904, refusing to have Australian cricketers buried on British soil.
“It certainly puts an Ashes tour in perspective,” Aussie captain Ricky Ponting told thebladder.com.
“People like to say that sport is not life and death but I think today’s visit disproves that theory. Just standing by the lonely tombstones of Australian cricketers who lost the Ashes and were therefore executed shows what’s at stake over the next few months.”
Adam Gilchrist was similarly affected, after spending several minutes next to the grave of Gil Langley, who under-performed during the series loss in 1956, including a duck in the Fifth Test at Kensington Oval.
“Langley was a wicket-keeper-batsman like me, so this really cuts deep.
“Or what about that grave over there … Jim DeCourcy, the right-hand bat who made the Coronation tour to England in ’53, straight from the Newcastle team in New South Wales. He made a thousand runs on that tour but averaged only 16 in the Tests and here he is.”
Some of the younger Australian players were noticeably pale as they left the cemetery, vowing to work harder than ever in the nets upon their arrival in England.
“This has been a stark and timely visit,” said young batting tyro Michael Clarke. “The Australian Ashes teams from ’77, ’81 and ’85 are all here. But then I see Merv Hughes and Steve Waugh still walking the Earth and I can join the dots, don’t you worry. I get the message. I’m going to bat like my life depends on it, starting July 21 at Lord’s.