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FOR: Liz Breslin
I’ve loved cricket ever since I can remember. Standing in the arc of my grandad’s side as he made my arm do bowling, over and over. Village greens, wooden pavilions, the ongoing little miracle of washing machines over grass stains. My own kids playing, learning the tactics, patience and tenacity necessary for the long game. Partnership, teamwork. The background sound of commentary on radio or TV, interspersed with urgent crowding-around at crucial moments.
"NZC does not think it’s right to accept these antisocial behaviours on the basis it is just ‘part of our national culture’."
I like that he said that. I like that when you strip away the hype, the histories and the peripheries, what you have, with cricket, with the thwack and the crack on the pitch, is a physical and mental battle that could go any way until the end.
- Liz Breslin is a poet, playwright and columnist. www.lizbreslin.com.
AGAINST: Bethany G. Rogers
If "golf is a good walk spoiled", cricket is the equivalent of a good festival ruined. They’ve kept the drinking in a field, but taken out all the good bits like music and dancing, forcing the spectators to entertain themselves ... with music and dancing. Watch any cricket match on TV this summer and you’ll find the commentators following the actions of the spectators more than they follow the so-called sports event on the pitch. I’ve seen cha-cha lines, tea parties and this year, spectators are spicing things up by knocking each other out in an attempt to catch a stray ball (and a few dollars). Earlier this year, commentators voiced over a cricket player’s actions moment-by-moment as he sipped on a cold beer. The cricketer in question was about 80 and had apparently been part of the Australian cricket team in the ’60s, yet he was still doing more than anybody on the pitch.
This carries on for three hours up to five whole days, enabling players to score a lot of runs ... without doing any running. There’s also a lot of "overs" and there was once, in 1981, an "under", but we’re not allowed to talk about this in New Zealand.
Meanwhile, the spectators get inebriated and commentators desperately search for something to talk about. This year’s incident was the beer-drinking octogenarian, last year’s big incident was a player who ate a mint and licked a ball. All in all, there’s a lot of beer drinking and a lot of fiddling about with balls and not much in the way of sport. I’m not "in" with any of that, so if this month’s Trans-Tasman Tri-Series offers more of the same, you can count me out too.
- Bethany G. Rogers is a Queenstown-based writer who spends her time hiking and reading instead of watching cricket. www.bethanygrogers.com.