Allan Massie has it absolutely right:
The national obsession with football will be back in the autumn. This is as certain as the fading of summer. If only our footballers could capture something of Joe Root’s delight in what he is doing. Football long ago styled itself “the beautiful game”, but too often it is mean and ugly. I have always hoped that the famous Liverpool manager Bill Shankly had his tongue in his cheek when he observed that “some people think football is a matter of life and death. I don’t like that attitude. I can assure them it’s much more serious than that”; but too many people speak and act as if it were true. It’s nonsense, of course. The truth about sport is that it’s deadly serious, and ultimately not serious at all. I don’t suppose Joe Root would put it quite like that. Cricket is his business, after all, not an agreeable hobby. Yet he plays as if unconsciously he recognises this truth, and this is one reason he offers such delight. It will be a sad day if that happy smile, which also displays his relish for battle, fades from his face.
Like the author and professional cricketer Ed Smith, I think that sport is a part of life and therefore a worthy subject in what it tells us about the state of our culture. It is perhaps a shame that it takes a smiling, cheerful chap such as Root to remind us that playing games should be fun. Fun? How frightfully old-fashioned.
I am a football fan, but even I am quite happy to stop tormenting myself on Saturday afternoons when Ipswich Town is playing. There is a long autumn/winter/spring to come when that can happen. In the meantime, the Ashes cricket season continues.