Tuesday’s crushing defeat of England by Australia demonstrated exactly why cricket fans love the game and the rest of the world is bemused. The game lasted a full five days (with about 7 hours in the field on each day). In the first innings (out of two per side) England scored 551 runs without all of their batsmen taking a turn (electing not to continue with batting being a sign of an impregnable position). The Australians almost equalled this with a score of 513 in their first innings. All this had taken nearly 4 days, so the chances of a result on the final day were slim, the most likely outcome a draw. However, on the final day all of England’s batsmen were all out cheaply and thus Australia were set a target of 168 runs in two hours. They achieved this with a spectacular display of batting. There were a total of 2636 balls bowled (pitched) in the game: had Australia failed to reach the target score within a further 19 balls the fifth day’s play would have ended and the game would have been declared a draw. England have now lost the first two matches in a series of five and look set to lose the Ashes, the symbolic trophy that has been contested for last 130 years.
This national tragedy was reported as the first item on the morning BBC News in the UK, so I wondered if there was any evidence of a stock market effect, particularly given the unexpected nature of the result going from the fourth to the fifth day. In Australia the S&P ASX 200 was up 0.74% on Wednesday’s trading, while the FTSE 100 in London was up 0.6% on Tuesday (the Australian market was closed Tuesday when the game ended, while London was just opening). So although not many city bankers appear to have thrown themselves out of the window, investors on the Australian market seem to have been a bit more bullish yesterday. Moreover, if you think Europe is the relevant comparison for the London market, then the DAX (Germany) was up 1.23% and the CAC40 (France) was up 1.2%, suggesting less optimism in London. However, London is also very closely tied to the Americans, who were clearly devastated by the result, given that the NASDAQ managed a pitiful 0.16% gain. On the other hand, maybe Auden was right.