There is always so much bad news in cricket.
Sometimes it’s on the field. Like, the World Cup final. It was easily the most entertaining ODI in recent memory — maybe the greatest ever — yet it was still marred by controversy: bad umpiring, weird rules. Etc.
A lot of times, though, it is off the field. Which is even more of a shame. It feels like whenever I visit the home page of Cricinfo, the lead story has nothing to do what’s happening in an actual cricket game. Of course, this is true for all sports, as they are all 10% action and 90% chitter chatter, but in cricket it feels like the news is always bad, always disheartening, always a reason to turn away from the game: the player protest at the Global T20 in Canada, terrible umpiring, corruption in Zimbabwe which might end up killing the game there, USA Cricket mucking up the country’s first ODI’s on home soil, and the list goes on. And that’s just today.
Even the good stories — Jofra Archer torching the opposition in a Second XI fixture — is tainted, as just when England need to have players involved in red ball cricket, it’s the time of the summer when the ECB makes it abundantly clear that it only cares about white ball cricket. Just one more nail in the coffin of the game’s best format from the country that invented it.
And yesterday morning I read an inspiring story about former Indian spinner, Maninder Singh. At least, it was inspiring at first. A person hitting bottom and then bouncing back. But then I read some of the responses to the piece and I saw the dark side of the story. Singh was touted as the second coming, the spinner to save India, but the BCCI threw him into the deep end too early, and it nearly killed him. All that talent — almost bottomless talent it seems — and potential and youth, all wasted.
Where is the good news, cricket? Where are the good stories? The ones that keep us coming back? They happen on the field, occasionally, but more and more often the stories on the field are about soulless franchise leagues and cash grabs by national boards. But a long time ago I wrote a post about the little things in cricket, the small moments, the ones that sometimes pass without us really knowing they happened, we are only aware of their essence. A certain long shadow late in the day. A quiet moment where the batsmen share a laugh at the center. One good ball in a spell of mostly bad balls. That sound when the ball hits the wickets. Or hits the pad plum on. A fielder getting his helmet and his box and moving to silly point because the captain or the bowler saw something. One smooth and perfect cover drive after a half dozen maidens on a quiet day in an empty stadium.
Cricket is a beautiful game. I love watching it. All of it. And that’s because of the moments above. Those are the moments that keep us coming back every single day. It’s so easy to lose sight of them, to only see the big picture, but to keep coming back we have to keep looking for the small moments. Or at least let our minds be open enough to let them pass through us. If we keep looking for the big stories, we will only find bad news, because the good news only happens on the field, and most of that news is little moments of time where for a split second everything is perfect. Cricket gives us those every single match, several times a match. There’s always good news, it’s just sometimes it’s not obvious. It’s not shouting at you, or demanding your attention with lights and rock music and strobe lights. You have to look. And so when you see it, it’s that more rewarding.
It’s another one of cricket’s gifts. It doesn’t need to shout, it just is.
And so whenever the news on Cricinfo gets too depressing, I think about this.