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Brief musings on the cricket

The recent test and one day series in South Africa had me intermittedly glued to the television when I was meant to be studying. In the end, I didn't watch all that much, but my tv has been on (albeit mostly on mute) for long periods during the last couple of months, though I will admit that a reluctance to use my bandwidth on the 'live scoreboard and commentary' that the baggygreen site provides was instrumental in that decision. The one-dayers were interesting, culminating in an exceeding strange, record-breaking day when 872 runs were scored on what must have been the flattest batting deck in the world. It may have been exciting...but I could only pity the bowlers in the end. And the recent test at that same ground saw an paltry 1125 runs scraped over 3 times the number of balls bowled. Go figure.

To my real point - whilst the outcome for Australia was different from that of the Ashes, I was left with a similar regret. The closeness of this test series (despite it being the first whitewash South Africa has been subjected to on its own turf) would have been better appreciated by me had the decisions not been so lopsided in favour of the victors. The results of the 2nd and 3rd tests in particular probably contributed heavily to the eventual results. I grant that Australia deserved the second victory after their dominance over most of the play, but that doesn't mean that the Proteas did not deserve to salvage a draw. As for the final test...talk about deja vu... The umpires must be under so much pressure nowadays....

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I was going to be lazy and not write anything...but I'm reading a text on the Australian media, wherein tha author stated a very opinionated view on what he called the "cricket which was speeded-up and dolled-up to conform to the dictates of Channel Nine magnate Kerry Packer." Firstly, yes, capitalism and Packer changed the game of cricket into something that must have seemed sacrilegeous (and probably still does) to all purists, but it seems that these purists also forgot about players' interests in a world which, I would think, was becoming increasingly less accommodating to workers taking several months off a year to 'volunteer for the pride of their country'. Let's remember that the 'gentlemen' back in the day when cricket was first started were part of the upperclass, who managed their estates in such a way that left them the time for leisurely pursuits such as polo, hunting and yes, cricket. Cricket is no longer a past-time - it has, for better or worse, become a competitive team sport.

Secondly, hindsight is a wonderful thing, and I wonder if this author wishes he'd never set his opinions in print. Rather than being "an inferior quality generic brand of a supermarket product" that has turned "the ritual and drama of traditional cricket into a mere spectacle", the one-day game has evolved into a sport in its own right, with a style of play that is different to that required in tests. I'd say that limited overs cricket has attracted another group of aficionados who may well have been bored to death by the slowness of the five-day game had they not gained an appreciation for it through another form. One might argue that one should play the sport to gain that appreciation...but given the dominance of footy (or soccer, in England) as the exciting and glamourous sport, and rugby as the "ruffian's game played by gentlemen," I doubt it would have appealed half as much had it not been for the excitement provided by the one day game. (Soccer actually provides the first half of the saying, it being "a gentleman's game played by ruffians.") In fact, the way that test cricket is played, whilst still at a slower pace, has also been changed such that fewer tests are now ending in draws, thanks in no small way to the approach that Australia has taken to it over the last eight years or thereabouts. World Series Cricket, although predominantly  commercially-driven enterprise (from Packer's intended media dominance to the players' demands), has made great contributions to the game.

Personally, I like the excitement of the one-day game, particular when Australia was winning tests by such huge margins that there was no tension whatsoever in the test game. Now, there isn't much between them...test cricket can be boring, but when the game swings back and forth in favour of one or other team, the tension is so much more pulpable than in the short game. And it's tension that makes it so attractive to follow.

That, I will admit, is one reason I dislike Aussie rules football - I just don't feel any tension in the game.

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