I didn’t cry very much when my dad died. There was just too much to do, too many other people to support. I was devastated, but it was the type of tragedy that required resilience and pragmatism, not reflection and melancholy.
I’ve certainly always missed him over the past almost twenty years and I’ve tried to live up to his rigid sense of fair play. If I’ve ever shirked a responsibility or taken the easier (but wrong) path it is always to him that I apologise. And that acknowledgement has always made me think and act differently next time a similar situation arises.
Today, however, while watching the morning session of the Headingley Test match I made up for my lack of tears by imagining what it would have been like had I been able to share the experience with my dad.
The story of the match has led to an exciting conclusion today and my better half is at work all day. I might have rung him up last night and invited him down to watch England snatch an improbable victory from the Aussies.
And so, there we would have sat watching the action in a definition that dad could have hardly dreamed about. He would have loved the recent technologies, Hawkeye, Edge Detection, HotSpot, Ball Spin and all the statistics that come with them. He would have despaired at the Decision Review System which leads to a seeming fallibility of modern umpires. Cricket, like my dad, has always been a solid mix of the traditional and the innovative.
There wouldn’t have been any long conversations, just the occasional observation or recounting of an old story. The most repeated phrases would have been familiar two words, “Good shot”, “Well left”, or in extreme circumstances, “What a shot, ball, catch…” We might have argued about who the best players were, but this would have come down to their work ethic and determination rather than talent.
We would have shared every laugh and cheer though. And this is what has made the day so poignant. At the time of writing Jofra Archer has been caught in the deep so England now require 73 with only two wickets remaining, so a famous victory is unlikely.
Now, perhaps, we would have talked about more personal things. He’d ask about work, about the kids, about everything. I hope he would have been proud of me. I’d like to think he can rest peacefully.