• Robbie James

Why a game of attrition has never been so appealing

Updated: Jun 9, 2020

My most vivid childhood memory was falling in love with cricket. Watching the 2005 Ashes series absolutely converted me to be the cricketing nerd I am now. I would watch recorded highlights on repeat over and over again, for about the next four years as I began to start playing in the garden, and then at my local club.

I loved mimicking players and commentators alike, and I’d indulged so much that I would know exactly what the next ball on the highlights reel was going to be, and what words Richie Benaud or Tony Greig would use to paint it.

From Thursday (7th) May, the second test match of that Ashes series, arguably the most dramatic test match there’s ever been, is being shown in full on Test Match Special (BBC Radio) & Sky Sports, in sync.*

We all seem to be keen to familiarise ourselves with ‘better days’ at the moment, and test match cricket provides some easing foundations to take us back in time, whether you’re a cricket fanatic or just missing people. It allows you to feel free again, to feel excited, intrigued, and content all at the same time.

A test match allows those three emotions to bathe in each other’s company better than most sports. Each day is a story, and more importantly it’s an actual day. Not ninety minutes, or twenty overs, or three sets. A game of attrition has never been so appealing.

Test cricket allows you to live through a narrative

I find myself in an ultimate state of fulfilment replaying the game. Imagining a morning of anticipation on the first day, thinking about the toss, about the weather over the coming day and days or if you’re a non-cricket fan, just feeling part of an occasion might be enough, a beautiful romance of togetherness and happiness. The game of test cricket allows you to live through a narrative, you get your couple of hours of morning entertainment, followed by a forty minute lunch break before the afternoon session. The match breaks to allow you to make a sandwich - how compassionate!

I suppose there’s something comforting also about the state of the commentators and the hubbub of the crowd. It’s a game that you can watch whilst discussing your favourite music festivals, times you’ve embarrassed yourself, what your evening plans may be (see, days of freedom!), and all of this quite often with people you’ve met sitting next to you. You hear conversations from the commentators too, their authenticity reminds you of what it’s like to be on a day out of the house, enjoying yourself, having a scene of cricketing beauty in front of them, and essentially living in a massive beer garden.

Test match cricket allows you to go about your day whilst feeling you’re living it with thousands of others, something we need more than ever, both the BBC and Sky have done a marvellous job.

*’’Jones. Bowden. Kasprowicz the man to go and Harmison has done it despair on the faces of the batsmen and joy for every England player on the field’’ - Richie Benaud’s commentary of the final ball of the match, I didn’t even have to look it up!

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