Thursday, November 16, 2023

Cricket is probably going to break my heart again (but not today)

Rugby is over for the year, and even though it's the main sport I watch and enjoy, I wasn't too upset by the All Blacks losing in the final of the recent World Cup. Not as upset as Sam Cane is gonna be for the entire rest of his life, anyway.

Shit happens, and so does Wayne Barnes. 

Losing at rugby doesn't break my heart, unless it's something really, really special. Cricket, on the other hand, breaks my heart all the fucking time.

Most of my friends are of intellectual stock, so I'm surrounded by people who genuinely hate cricket, including my gorgeous wife, who just thinks it's the dumbest thing in the entire world. But the ridiculousness of it is part of the whole deal, along with the patience to endure a match that can take five days and be settled in a split second. And it comes loaded with all the drama and some of the most massive personalities in modern sport - seriously, how is David fucking Warner still a goddamn thing?

And while Douglas Adams once thought of it as literally the most barbaric thing in the universe, I've always loved the game, especially the ODIs. They say the 50-over game is dying, and I truly hope not. 

I love the five-day Test - there were half a dozen matches in the past year which are legitimately some of the greatest Test matches ever played, coming to to the last ball, the last wicket, after five days of finely poised action.

And the T20s are fun, but they're just slogs. Wickets don't matter in the shortest form, who cares, here comes the next blaster, but they are absolutely everything in the five days, while the one-day game has the best of both worlds. 

And I have always adored the New Zealand cricket team, even - especially - when they get shit on. My first memory of it is the underarm bowl of 1981, which is pretty fucking formative, and probably the number one reason I never moved to Australia.

And since then, there have been moments of absolute glory - Grant Elliot's six to beat South Africa at the 2015 semi; Chris Pringle bowling an impossible maiden over to Bruce Reid to beat the Aussies; the day Nathan Astle said fuck it, and just went for it with one of the most egregious batting displays ever seen anywhere.

It's all balanced out by the tragedies and heartbreaks - the '92 team who suddenly looked unexpectedly unstoppable until they ran into Pakistan; and the way the last world cup ended was the biggest heartbreak of them all, denied by the absolute slimmest of margins and the insane idea that a batman can hit the ball while running between wickets. 

At least England were fucking awful at the current World Cup, and we got through to the semis, and they didn't. And while we just got thrashed by India last night, that's okay, because India are unquestionably the greatest team in the world right now, and beating them at home was always a tall fucking order.  

But I'm sure there will be more nail-biting losses, absolute tragedies of the form. No other sport does it better.

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