Cricket for Americans: 16 July 2019: The World Cup

For a couple days I have hemmed and hawed about what to post under the Cricket for Americans banner with regard to Sunday’s final. There was so much to say, but none of it felt right. Thankfully, Twitter friend Tim Lowell and stepped in helped me out:

The bar I was watching the game in is a popular spot downtown. It gets a great brunch and lunch crowd most weekends, especially since it’s close to two busy conference hotels. There was a private event in the bar’s Long Room where they usually show British sporting events, so we were all out in the main bar area. As such, group after group of folks were led through our loud tipsy mob to their tables up in the dining area. I watched them as they were led by the host, and I would spot a couple sports’ fan looking guys peeking at the screen. Some showed mild curiosity, others showed what appeared to me to look like disdain (as an American soccer fan, I know this look by heart), but most showed no interest whatsoever.

And, so, Tim is right. We were let in on a secret, a wonderful secret, and because of that we were treated to those nine wonderful hours of cricket on Sunday. Meanwhile, 99% of American sports fans missed out. They maybe watched the tennis or some golf or a little baseball or just spent the day doing other things. Which is too bad. Because it was something really, really special. And I feel so lucky that for some reason 12 years ago when I quit smoking I stumbled onto this game.

What was so great? It had everything. Twists, turns, momentum changes, great bowling, great batting, great fielding. It was a final worthy of the name which you don’t get in sports these days. Hundreds of deliveries leading to not one but two ties. And then the home team lifting the trophy in the end.

But the best part about it was that there were no goats. No one lost the game for their team. And there were no enemies if you were a neutral. Every one of the 22 guys out there played until their guts hit the floor and did so with grace and humility and style. You don’t get that in other sports. There are always goats. Always enemies. I watched a bit of the NBA Finals and winced as the Toronto crowd cheered Kevin Durant’s injury. That would not have happened yesterday. You would have liked all of them, and wanted all of them to win. Even if you supported England your whole life and have dreamed of a World Cup for 44 years, your heart still broke for New Zealand.

And it’s a bummer. Because everyone missed out. I came to work on Monday and never even brought it up. No one I know in real life watched it. It happened and it was magic and no one even knew it was going on. What a shame. And how many things are there like that in this life? Hundreds and hundreds, surely. Something every single day happens on TV or in our neighborhood that is somehow a miracle in a life that offers so few. And it’s not just sports. It’s music and art. Every day we miss out on perfection. And that’s the lesson here. I do not, it seems, feel badly for those that missed it. I am instead just feeling lucky that I did not. And, maybe, next time, when the cricket is on and you are being led to a table in the upstairs dining area, stop and take it in for a minute. It might be worth your time. I promise to do the same the next time I walk by a group of people transfixed by something alien, foreign, but also perfect.

Miracles in life are so rare. I got to see one on Sunday. And I am so lucky. Don’t miss the next one.

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