I talk a great deal about test cricket on this blog. A great deal more than I ever expected to, actually.
This is the story of I how I fell in love with test cricket. Some other time, I will write about my love affair with the sport overall…
When I first started following the game, it was during the 2007 World Cup, and so I was an ODI man through and through. I thought it was a modern form of an archaic sport, a way out of the cricketing middle ages. And I thought for sure that it was cricket in its most exciting form, as how could a four or five day match possibly be more exciting than one that is decided in one day – and one which always gives you a winner?
Please forgive me.
Then, shortly after, very shortly after, I discovered Twenty20 cricket, and the American in me sprung to life: this is it, I thought, this is what will bring Americans into the game. It’s three hours, there are penalties for slow over rates, the crowds are big and loud and the atmosphere is thick with tension.
I found myself following a great deal many one day series that first year: there was the t20 World Cup, there was India’s seven ODIs in England, and so on.
But more and more, beginning in 2008, I started to drift toward the longer forms of the game. In County Cricket, after first only really following the one day tournaments, I was starting to only watch highlights of first-class matches. And while I still enjoyed big ODIs, and followed along with the knockout stages of the County one-dayers, and while I thought the IPL was great entertainment, I was slowly but surely being consumed by test cricket.
For me, just like for most folks, it seems, test cricket was the true test of team sporting endurance. And more than any other sport, test matches told a story: there was drama, and villains, and heroes. Plot lines that stretch for days, batsmen who bat for days, and twists that come from nowhere. And like most I enjoy a well spun yarn.
I was blown away by the fact that one delivery, ONE, could turn an entire five day match on its head.
Now, I am not going too much time waxing poetic here, as so many that have come before me have done it far better than I ever could. But for my American readers, you must know, there is something quite magical about a sporting event that lasts for more than three hours. You cannot think of it like an NFL game, where three hours can feel interminable, as it is something completely different. You drift in and out, checking the scores when you can, watching entire two hour sessions when possible, keeping it in the back of your mind all the rest of the time. It is its own animal, it transcends the traditional “game” and honestly, is the only contest that can fairly be called a “match”.
All of that said, however, up until recently, my love for test cricket was on somewhat equal standing with other major sporting events that I enjoyed. The Tour de France, the World Series, the Champions League Final, football’s World Cup…etc.
I felt this way even after subscribing to Willow.tv which allowed me to watch the England-India test series.
But then, and goodness I hate to keep harping on this, but then I watched the Boxing Day test at the MCG, and everything changed. I realized that test cricket stood alone, not always, but on its biggest stages, it was on a pedestal where no other sports could be placed. Not the bloated Super Bowl, not the niche sport Olympics, not even the World Cup. Test match cricket existed all on its own, and in my 30 years as a sports fan, I had found my personal mountain top of sporting spectacle.
I have been to Emirates Stadium, been to NFL games, been to an Michigan v Ohio State football game, been to an MLB playoff game…but nothing matches what I felt those first few nights watching Australia-India at cricket’s giant virtual bar on my silly little computer in a quiet room on the other side of the earth.
Nothing involving sport, of course, mind you.
And I cannot wait to spend the rest of my life enjoying match after match.
“I continue to search for the elusive thing that is happiness and contentment. That may never happen but quite frankly, I don’t know where I’d be without cricket. Lost – totally lost.”
Now, I don’t think I would be lost without cricket, but this blog and this sport have brought a great deal of happiness over the last year, and for that I am very thankful.
One last note: I know that waxing poetic about test cricket is like shooting fish in a barrel, and I know that I repeated myself a lot in this post, and I do appreciate you humoring me by reading this. I promise to not do either too often.
Until next time.