On the Teevee

And what do you say about a Test match like that? I have no idea.

It had everything. Peaks, valleys, hidden tunnels. Heroes, goats, villains. From Stokes setting Lord’s alight and reminding us all of Flintoff at Edgbaston; to Moeen Ali making the catch of a lifetime on the boundary; to Jimmy Anderson searching and poking and prodding; to the Kiwis showing all the heart in the world in an attempt to just…hang…on.

The match was five perfect days of everything Test cricket has to offer the world. And for five days in London the format reminded us all that not only is the game’s longest format its most entertaining, but when played like England and New Zealand played it, a Test match is the pinnacle of ALL sport. It can be the most entertaining game on earth when played at its zenith.

And what else you say about a Test match like that? I have no idea. So I will leave it to the professionals to offer proper tributes, and instead use this space to talk about one very personal aspect of this match:

I was able to watch it on tv.

Not on a computer. Or a tablet. Or a smartphone. But on an actual television set. Like an actual human being.

I had finally gotten around to connecting my Xbox to the Internet, and I downloaded the (free) ESPN3 app, and – huzzah! – cricket live on the telly.

The stream was crisp, clean and perfect, with only the occasional hiccup. And so I was able to watch on while on the couch with a cup of tea instead of at my desk in a desk chair with headphones on.

As you probably know, the game is different when watched on a television. And it was almost as if I was seeing the game again for the first time. Actually not even almost as if, it was as if I was seeing the game with fresh eyes, different eyes, new eyes.

I was able to see the little moments in the game that you miss when watching on a stream on a computer. The flight of the ball, the looks on the players’ faces, the foot movement of the batsman and the subtle differences in fast bowlers’ run ups.

Cricket is a game of many facets. It is millions of small moments that create a detailed landscape when laid on top of one another. And sure the game is interesting and entertaining when you only can see the landscape, but it becomes infinitely more so when you are able to see the individual blades of grass.

To say it was a more entertaining experience would be a rather large understatement.

And for the first Test match I’d been able to watch on television to be that Test match? Well, the stars were aligned, surely.

Checking ESPN’s schedule, it looks like they have the entirety of the New Zealand tour available to watch, plus a healthy dose of County Cricket. I do not, however, see the Ashes. It would be a real shame of tWWL made that series a pay-per-view like they did with the World Cup and the IPL. We shall see.

If anyone has any inside information on that, I would appreciate it.

Until then, I am going to bask in the glow of the perfect Test match for a little longer, then get ready to do it all over again at Headingley.

I will save my whining about the two Test series for another day (probably tomorrow).

The cricket for the corruption

But watching Root and Stokes battle back at a zesty five runs an over in glorious sunshine was a reminder that cricket – and all sport for that matter – is often best enjoyed by unhooking from the issues that blight its administration and simply drinking in what unfolds in front of you.

Ali Martin, via The Guardian

That’s it right there, isn’t it? Not just sport, but life. Seeing the forest for the trees. Separating what’s really important from what is simply trivial. Being able to sit back and simply see the beauty that exists in this big, old, sad world.

And cricket – on a nearly daily basis – brings us wide swaths of that beauty. In moments both big and small, it brings us the ballet, the drama, the grit that is inherent to sport

It also shows us – outside its lines – humanity’s ugly side. Its corruption, its greed, its hypocrisy.

But like in life, we are better off if we can take a few moments each day to forget about the horrors that exist, and focus on the beauty that exists in tandem with the evil. A Beethoven piano sonata, a Donna Tartt novel and, yes, a cracking counterattack on a perfect summer’s day in the heart of the world’s greatest city.

Just another lesson cricket can teach us. If we let it.