This crossed my mind the other day while I was watching the first morning of the 2nd test with two friends. One who likes to like a full range of sports and one who couldn’t care less either way. It had taken plenty of TV-time lobbying to get them to agree to watch the first two hours. As we know Australia were humbled in the first 3 overs in a mix of unexpected excitement, constant player celebration and shouting commentators.
Then a bit of a lull; not for me, for the two mates.
The dreaded questions started. Why do bowlers take so long to get back to their mark? Why don’t they have two bowlers bowling from the same end to save time? Why do they have a drinks break? Some would say valid questions, some others would say utter nonsense and finally some others, mainly me, would say “This is the first day of the second test of the biggest cricketing series of my life and as I’ve never seen the team I’ve followed since I was four win in Australia I would rather sit and watch and discuss the cricket if you like but not questions sent through a Karl Pilkington Filter System *breath* designed with the specific task of annoying me as much as possible…”
I didn’t say that. I tried to reason with them. I tried to reason with the types of questions I’ve been trying to reasonably answer for 20 years. I failed. They just think it’s too slow. They need crash, bang, wallop entertainment – no tactical nuance, no subtlety, no build up of pressure, no ongoing personal battles that have been building for series after series, no mother nature stopping the game at the height of battle, no mental blocks on how to bowl a consistent line (take your pick from Mitchell Johnson or Steve Harmison), no green tops, no flat tracks, no setting up a declaration, no pressure for quick wickets, no, they want 90 mins of cricket, served up with added Andy Gray. Don’t we all sometimes. I use the word ignorant lightly, it’s more unconvertable – they’ll never enjoy a test match for its own sake – but will buy into the hype and media attention of an Ashes series.
It was the fantastic story of @theashes and her initial frustration at selecting a twitter name now in such high demand changing to having a polite interest in cricket culminating in a free flight to Australia to watch a test match. The innocent ignorance is fantastic “why do both teams wear the same colour kit” and 96-1 meaning 96 runs (it does) from 1 over (it’s theoretically possible but only after a particularly bad Mitchell Johnson over). So here’s a very famous explanation of cricket to clear things up for her, and others.
You have two sides, one out in the field and one in. Each man that’s in the side that’s in goes out, and when he’s out he comes in and the next man goes in until he’s out. When they are all out, the side that’s out comes in and the side that’s been in goes out and tries to get those coming in, out. Sometimes you get men still in and not out.
When a man goes out to go in, the men who are out try to get him out, and when he is out he goes in and the next man in goes out and goes in. There are two men called umpires who stay out all the time and they decide when the men who are in are out. When both sides have been in and all the men have been out, and both sides have been out twice after all the men have been in, including those who are not out, that is the end of the game.
Or, if you’ve got a spare 3 hours, here’s a better explanation from ‘An American Viewpoint’ on cricinfo.
By George Allwell