The Ashes Contest You Can Freely Skip

alcohol-free beer,

With summer almost upon us, various summer sports will loom large. But with Andy Murray clanking around on a metal hip and Emma Raducanu recovering from surgery, domestic tennis interest may be limited.

The same cannot be said of the cricket. After a Test match against Ireland, England will face Australia for the Ashes, and while there will be fierce competition on the field, there will also be lots of banter in the packed stands.

At the same time, there will also be plenty of alcohol consumed, but this is something you can safely skip. With alcohol-free beer, you can enjoy the taste and feel refreshed without being tanked up.

This is a point missed by some. Tales are still told of Australian player David Boon, who allegedly drank 52 tins of beer on the flight over, while many enjoyed the sight of a distinctly hungover Freddie Flintoff and co on their open-top bus after their 2005 triumph.

Heroic? Not a bit of it. Boon would never get away with that these days. Flintoff’s fitness was never as good as it should have been in his playing days (not helped by an eating disorder) and by the time of that parade, he had already made his last Test century.

The image of cricket as a drinking game is misplaced. It is not just bad news for a game when players increasingly need to be fit; it’s also a problem for players who don’t drink for cultural or religious reasons. 

Indeed, an incident where alcohol was forced down his throat was one of the instances of racial abuse reported by former Yorkshire player Azeem Rafique in a scandal that rocked the game.

If you want a role model, how much better to be like Mark Wood? The teetotal England bowler who hurls the ball down faster than any other man in the world. He took the Ashes-clinching wicket when England last won the famous little urn in 2015. Perhaps this year he can be a hero again - for more reasons than one.

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