‘I can write about anything’

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A few days ago I had a post in mind. About cricket. I can’t remember what it was now. I think something to do with The Hundred. But it’s completely gone.

Yesterday I had a post in mind. This time it most definitely was about The Hundred, and what it’s doing to the County Championship fixture schedule for 2020 which was leaked early by The Mail. It shunted the majority of the matches into early spring or late fall. Kneecapping it when its already been kneecapped a few dozen times already. The post went something like this:

When I was in college I worked part time at a financial services firm. It was during the bust of the tech bubble and a couple times the bottom dropped completely out of the market, leaving the entire office shell shocked. It’s not like the movies. When the market drops, the firms are silent. The next day after such a collapse I was out smoking with one of the firm’s old timers. He had to be 70 years old, he had been trading stocks since the 60s. He told me that he didn’t mind the big drops. What he minded were the years back in the 70s when for months and months the market would drop just a little bit every single day. He likened it to — pardon the analogy — have ones balls placed in a vice and the vice tightened just a little more each day.

This is what’s happening in cricket. The administrators have the game in a vice, and they are going to squeeze it until all the money is gone and all that’s left is the dust of the game we all once loved.

I normally try to be positive about the supposed death of cricket. It’s all the boy who cried wolf, or Mark Twain’s famous quote about the rumors of his death … etc. The game in so many ways is actually really thriving. And the game has always experienced sea changes of all shapes and sizes, and it weathered those changes, and this might all just be a bit of growing pains. Stick with it to the other side, we’ll be all right. Maybe this was because I was always looking for that one cataclysmic event that would take down the game, something I think we are all guilty of now and again. But it’s not going to be one thing. It’s going to be many little things, slowly draining the blood of the sport onto the ground until all that’s left is a lifeless husk.

Dramatic? Sure. The good news is that we still have a few more years. Though I find myself already mourning, mourning that I never got to enjoy cricket — especially first class cricket — in its heyday. Those days are gone already. Drained into the dust where soon their brothers and sisters will join them.

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And that’s all I had. A post that I had written several times before. A post written by others more astutely all the time. James Morgan just did it yesterday. And he is 10 times the cricket writer I’ll ever be.

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Over the weekend I had an idea for a post about a modern dance retelling of Swan Lake that I had gone to which was a lot of things but mostly was a meditation on depression and a scathing takedown of modern day Ireland. But I didn’t write that one either.

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The Tweet at the top is in reference to what’s happening to the once brilliant Deadspin, which for a long time was the best written site on the internet. And now it’s being dismantled and left to rot by the side of the road. Following the story, I was struck by its easy comparison to cricket, another beloved institution being slowly but surely gutted by its caretakers. But in that thinking I also realized that it is also about this blog too. It’s a cricket blog, yes, of course. I write about cricket a lot, and have for many years now. But it’s also about a lot more than that. For the last 18 months I have written almost primarily about my divorce and the shell of my former self it left me with. I couldn’t not write about that, it seeped into every post, even the ones that were simply nuts and bolts cricket.

Because John Moe is correct. There is only writing.

I used to feel a little guilty for boring the audience I had built writing about cricket with nonstop posts about depression, but I know I shouldn’t. Writing is writing. There’s the famous Virginia Woolf quote: “I can write anything.” And that is so freeing. Writing is writing. I have to write what I need to write, and this is the space have I carved out in which to do that. You can’t write about anything without also writing about yourself. There is no line between the two. One does not exist without the other.

This line of thinking brought me full circle:

There is only cricket.

All the formats are linked. Once cannot exist without the other. Despite what the cynics of the world might tell you. There’s no good cricket or bad cricket, there is only cricket. Broken, beautiful, outrageous, peaceful cricket. The game’s past does not exist without its future, and of course the opposite is true, so why mourn that the past is gone when the past led you to where we are now?

In an article written after the death of Prince, Hanif Abdurraqib wrote that while we mourn the dead, we can take solace in the fact that the body — which acted as a boundary for all that humans want and need, for all expression and desire — is no longer an obstacle, and their energy and life can spread out over the whole world, infecting us all.

So it is with cricket. The County Championship will someday die. But what it leaves behind will be all the richer for it. All the more beautiful.

There is only cricket.

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