Cricket for Americans: 10 Feb. 2019: We miss it ever summer

Today, the Melbourne Cricket Ground posted this on Instagram:

“Stumps for another Summer of Cricket” at the MCG, and in Australia. What started with an ODI against Pakistan in the first week of November — back on a day when Aussie fans had the entire summer spreading out before them — ended yesterday with Melbourne defeating Sydney in the Big Bash League. And thus ends another summer, one of so few that we get, and that always seem to go by so fast, and that we always feel like we miss, even when that summer takes places during the darkest depths of our winter, personal or otherwise.

Another year gets away
Another summer of love
I don’t know why I care
We miss it every summer

We only get so many, and then they are gone, leaving us wistful and trying to remember what we did, how we spent the time, whether we enjoyed ourselves or not.

How many more times will you remember a certain afternoon of your childhood, some afternoon that’s so deeply a part of your being that you can’t even conceive of your life without it? Perhaps four or five times more. Perhaps not even that. How many more times will you watch the full moon rise? Perhaps twenty. And yet it all seems limitless.

Like a lot of Americans, I struggled with the infinity of cricket. The seemingly nonstop cycle of matches and series and tournaments, stretching on forever without end. But there are ends, and there are beginnings, you just have to look for them, and then they appear, and you are grounded, and then you remember that every beginning has an end, and that you only get so many of each, no matter how limitless they seem some days.

Yesterday, the Australian summer of cricket ended. In a few months, the English summer of cricket will begin, and it will stretch out before us, a seemingly endless horizon, like a vast ocean of warm afternoons, and the World Cup, and the Ashes. But soon enough that will end too. And we will wonder where all that time went, where all that cricket went, and how it slipped like water through our fingers.

Cricket seems infinite, but it’s not, it’s just that its endings — and its beginnings — are more subtle, and therefore somehow more special, more melancholy. Maybe that’s because cricket’s endings are summer’s endings, and when summer ends we cannot help but wonder if we will get another, even one that’s not even in our hemisphere.

It’s a special game, cricket, defined by the tiniest of margins on the field, and the largest swaths of time off of it: razor thin edges to first slip, hairs breadth no balls, but also five day matches, months long tours, centuries old traditions. It’s poetry that whispers from a hilltop into a void filled with quiet mornings, tea breaks and short sleeves. And when the echoes of that whisper finally ease away into silence, they feel like they are gone forever, and that we never heard them in the first place.

Every beginning ends, and every ending reminds us of that.

Cheers to the Australian summer of cricket. We never knew ya, and now you’re gone. Let’s hope we get another chance to hear those whispers this summer in England, and that we remember to listen, and learn the words, and to hold that water in our hands just a little longer before it slips through our fingers, sinks through the clay, and falls over the edge of the world.

Until tomorrow.

*From The National’s “Guilt Party”
**From “The Sheltering Sky” by Paul Bowles.

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