Like Cricket in the Movies

Yeah you’re worth the trouble and you’re worth the pain

For the most part, I fly pretty far under the pop culture radar. Rarely am I plugged in to whatever is happening in the zeitgeist these days. Occasionally I will watch the “it” show on HBO or Netflix, but for the most part the entertainment I choose is not of the mainstream. And it’s become a point of pride, to the chagrin of many. I like to make it abundantly — painfully — clear that I have no idea what happened on The Bachelor and never will, which I know can be really damn annoying. People just like to have fun.

And so while I knew that there was a live action version of Cats, the Musical, hitting theaters, I also knew it was something that would never enter my insular little world even in the most remote manner. It would never even touch me. It would exist completely outside my bubble and then it would be gone. But I was wrong. The other day on Twitter someone posted a minute long clip of the movie on Twitter.

I won’t post it here.

Because it was the most horrifyingly awful thing I have ever experienced.

This is what we have become. This is what our movies have become. A once great art form has been reduced to this. Whatever this is. The same city that brought us The Godfather and Deer Hunger is bringing us this terrible nonsense schlock. It’s not almost heartbreaking, it is utterly heartbreaking.

My uncle Will is a huge movie buff. At least he used to be. I honestly am not sure if he is anymore, so I will talk about his love for movies in the past tense, despite the fact that he is very much alive. He used to see everything. He would go to the theater all the time, and watch anything he couldn’t make it to on cable or via VHS from the video store. He loved movies. He told me once that he didn’t think he had ever seen a movie that he didn’t like. All movies were good. All movies had redeeming value in one form or another. You just had to look a little harder for it sometimes. I remember when Titanic came out and it was roundly poo-pooed by critics and pseudo-intellectuals (like myself) because it wasn’t, you know, smart. He said that if you don’t like Titanic, then you don’t like movies. I have ascribed to that theory ever since he said it to me. It was okay to like movies that weren’t smart, because all movies were good, in their own little way.

I don’t know if that is true anymore.

First run theaters are overgrown with crap like Cats and bad sequels and reboots and remakes and an endless stream of movies based on comic books. It’s like the entire industry has lost its soul. Movies aren’t good anymore not just because they aren’t fun anymore, but also because they are all the same. It’s disheartening. And it only seems to be getting worse. The classic cinema of the 70s is gone forever, we have known that for a long time. But now I am even nostalgic for 90s film, or early 00s. That’s how far movies have slipped away.

The parallels to cricket here are rather obvious. A once glorious game stripped down into nothing but a slick, vapid capitalist nightmare. Once The Hundred takes over we will long for the early days of the IPL. You think I am kidding, but I am not. And you know it. You read James Morgan’s blog just like I do. The ECB is obliterating England’s red ball domestic game and that might be the final nail in the coffin of the world’s most beloved format. It can’t help but make one feel almost intolerably sad, full of bottomless melancholy, as the world moves on and away from what was once great, and will never be again.


In movies, there is hope. Millions of people took three and a half hours out of a recent Saturday to watch Scorsese’s brilliant work of art, The Irishman. In the past year, I have seen movies at art house theaters and museums that have blown me out of the water. The Last Black Man in San Francisco. Honeyland. Long Day’s Journey into Night. They are not reminiscent of what was, they are not people trying to make Pulp Fiction for 2019, but rather people finding new and amazing and interesting ways in which to tell stories using film as a medium.

Hollywood’s soul might be black and dead. But movies are still very much alive.

Is the same true for cricket?

It can be hard to tell. There’s no such thing as arthouse cricket. All cricket is either mainstream or so far outside the system it can be hard to even know it exists. Is Ben Stokes winning SPOTY cricket’s equivalent of a beautiful movie about beekeepers in Macedonia? Probably not. Moments of brilliance on cricket’s biggest stage are salves for what ails the game, but not cures. No, the cure is somewhere else, somewhere hidden, somewhere hard to find. It won’t be easy to find. It will take work. And I don’t even know where to start looking, But I know it’s out there. Too many smart people have loved this game for too long for it not to exist. Soul’s don’t die. Not even cricket’s.

Somewhere, out there, someone is turning cricket not into a bad carbon copy of its glory years, awash in pointless nostalgia, and not at all into the mainstream sugar soda corporate cricket we see everywhere, but instead into something new but also familiar, and somehow difficult and challenging and beautiful. It’s out there. Let’s find it together. Let’s find cricket’s equivalent of the protagonist of The Last Black Man in San Francisco, skateboarding switchbacks across street car tracks down the hills of America’s greatest city cut into the rocky shoreline overlooking a bay in the fog.

This might all sound crazy. But today I have hope for this game. And I am going to lean into that hope. And when I read about The Hundred, I am going to think of this:

Image result for last black man in san francisco skateboard scene

If the soulless movie industry can make that out of the hellscape that is Hollywood, then cricket can do it too.



Kids and sports and Mesut Ozil

Sports are stupid.

We all know that. All of us get it. Professional sports especially. Sure, we all watch, and we all eat, drink and breath it, and it’s sometimes fun, but we also all get that it’s a nonsense capitalistic enterprise run by gangsters and driven by toxic masculinity, gambling and alcohol consumption. Not exactly mom and apple pie these days, despite what those old baseball poets try to spin.

Yesterday I was reading Will Leitch’s newsletter. He is one of the smartest people I know. A real hustler who just works and works and works. And it pays off. He’s also one of the best writers on the internet, and honestly seems like a pretty decent guy overall. Flawed, but understanding of those flaws. That’s all we can really hope for in the end. Yesterday he was writing about how much time he spends thinking about sports. Sports. Games for children played by spoiled millionaires (I can say this stuff because I am a sports fan too). And how he didn’t even know what he could accomplish if he didn’t spend so much time writing and thinking about and watching sports. And, I don’t know, that made me kind of sad. A guy that smart could have done so much more. Could have written books that mattered. Not that his books don’t matter, not that the work he does, the work of entertainment, isn’t important — we all need leisure pursuits — but it’s still a bummer that we missed out on what he actually could have accomplished if he hadn’t started writing about sports.

I am not saying Will is a bad dude. Or that the work he does isn’t great. Or that he’s selfish. Or anything. I am just saying it’s a bummer. And by the tone of his note yesterday, I think he would more or less agree with me.

Also yesterday I watched my beloved Arsenal — a team full of those spoiled millionaires mentioned above — play out a dire, listless, boring, lifeless 0-0 with an equally awful Everton. Two clubs with a combined worth of north of a billion dollars and that was the product they decided to put on display. During the match, and after it, the fans sang a song about how they wanted Arsenal Fan TV “out of (their) club.” I am not familiar as I really tend to only watch the games these days, but apparently Arsenal Fan TV is a YouTube channel about Arsenal that is a little toxic and the fans were sick of that toxicity. Later after the game the same traveling fans surrounded the YouTube folks and it was, well, a scene.

The whole thing is rubbish. These are grown ups. Toxic masculinity. Alcohol consumption. It’s a game. Played by adults. Designed for kids. It all cannot help but make me feel a little silly sometimes. It should make us all a little silly. I will still watch, you will still watch, but I think moments like yesterday might help us keep it all in perspective a little more.

Missing from yesterday Arsenal’s match was German midfielder Mesut Özil. Interim manager Freddie Ljungberg dropped him from the lineup because in the match before Mesut threw his gloves and kicked them after being subbed out.

This reminded of a moment from my childhood. And it made me realize something. Yeah, sports are stupid. But they are also important. Like, really important. For one reason and one reason only: the kids. Not the kids as fans, but the kids playing the games, on fields and courts and patches all over the world. Organized, disorganized, whatever.

The Mesut story reminded me of little league, the season in the spring and summer during and after 7th grade. My last season of little league ever. My dad would die the following autumn and that would be that for my truncated childhood. One of my teammates was Lane Kiffin. The name might ring a bell. Headcoach of the LA Raiders for a disastrous couple of seasons. Later head coach at USC and Tennessee and Florida Atlantic. And Lane’s dad, Monte Kiffin, was our coach. Monte is not quite as famous as Lane, but he’s one of the more respected defensive coaches of all time, the bulk of his career was spent as Defensive Coordinator of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. In 1988 when he was my little league coach, he was the Linebacker Coach for the Minnesota Vikings.

Early in the season, in what I think was just a scrimmage game, I struck out. Like I always did. I sucked at baseball. And I threw my helmet. And my bat. And Monte Kiffin got in my face and tore me up, right there in front of everyone. A hot summer blue sky day and a guy used to yelling at 300 pound linebackers was screaming at me. It was horrifying. “We do NOT do that on this team, understand?” I started to cry. It was too much. The kid next to me on the bench could have teased me, could have called me a crybaby, but instead he told me it was all right, that everyone strikes out now and again.

I think about that kid a lot. And that was lesson number one from that day.

I digress. Two days later Monte called the house. I wasn’t home. He told my parents that he was really sorry. That he hoped I wouldn’t quit. That he really wanted me on the team.

And I didn’t quit. And I went on and had the best season of my life. Monte put trust in me, batted me up the lineup, put me at first base, something no other coach did. And I responded in spades. He threw batting practice before each game, throwing 10-15 mph faster than the opposing team’s kid pitcher would throw, so the pitches in the game looked like they were in slow motion.

I don’t remember if we won many games. All I know is that I played baseball out of mind. I loved baseball as a kid. But I always sucked at it. Until that season. That one season.

That season taught me so much, lessons that I have carried with me my whole life. Perseverance. The power of a good coach. The power of trusting someone. Humility. Kindness. Sportsmanship. And so many more. Lessons that I have carried with me my entire life. Lessons I might not have learned otherwise. That’s the power of sports.

Now, I played baseball because I loved baseball. Like most kids. I soaked in the game and played because I wanted to be like my heroes. Not every kid who plays every sport can be so lucky.

Which brings me to the cricket side of this post. This morning a tweet hit my radar and it stood out for me:

I consider Jamie a friend and an expert in the field of youth cricket. Together with a handful of organizers, he has made the youth game in Maryland something really special. Brought the game to kids who never would have experienced it, kids that will become lifelong cricket fans because of people like Jamie, despite the fact that there is no American Cricket League, or that cricket isn’t in the Olympics, or that we don’t have a strong national team. Those kids are learning the same lessons I learned from Monte Kiffin, those same invaluable lessons, because of cricket, and people like Jamie. His quibble with USA Cricket is beyond valid. It is terribly important. Cricket needs people like Jamie, dedicated people who love the game and want kids to experience it, because kids need cricket.

Kids need sports.

And that’s what it all comes down to. Sports are silly. Run by gangsters. Fueled by the worst kinds of tribalism, the same brand of which we see in American politics. But they are still important. Still vital. For the reason mentioned above: kids.

People like Monte Kiffin, people like Jamie Harrison, they are why sports are still important. I like Mesut Özil, and I respect the dedication of the traveling Arsenal fans, but neither of them are doing sport any favors. And that’s a shame. Not because we need something to do with our leisure time, but because kids need sports. They need to have heroes, they need to have coaches, and they need to learn the lessons that only sports can teach. Yes, only sports.

Will Leitch closes his post about what he would do if he didn’t spend so much time thinking about and writing about sports with a joke: that he probably would just have done drugs instead. It’s a joke. He’s kidding. But it’s a valid point nonetheless. Sport keeps kids safe. It’s just one more reason why kids need sports, and why they are important, not just for kids, but at the end of the day, for all of us. And so whenever I see a player like Mesut act like a brat, I can only assume he missed out on a coach like Monte Kiffin. Maybe Ljungberg is finally that coach, even if he has already been replaced. Sports can always teach us. We can always find mentors. We can always learn and get better. We can always listen to a coach or a boss and learn how to do life just a little bit better. And maybe that’s sports greatest lesson:

Listen to your coach. They want you to succeed. It might not seem like it, but they do.

That’s what Monte Kiffin taught me all those years ago. And it’s a lesson I have carried with me my whole life.

What a gift.


There’s a lot to unpack in this article. First and foremost is the that darts is finally, as the headline says, getting its stats revolution.

Most sports already have had theirs. Especially the repetitive games such as baseball and, yes, cricket. The latter is weighed down with so many numbers it becomes almost a caricature of itself. It’s a laundry list of scenarios and qualifiers that bordera on the ridiculous: he’s scored one fifty in a day-night Test in Asia when the moon was full and the other team had a person named Isaac playing and there were exactly 1,156 people in the crowd, not counting ground employees,  and 145 of them were legally drunk.

That’s a joke, of course. But it’s not too far off the truth. But since cricket has always been stats heavy, they really never had their revolution. The moment when the old guard who talked about guts and clutchiness and good locker room guys and hustle, bristled against the young whipper snappers and their stats that turned their game, their beloved game, into a math problem. Stripped the soul out of it. That happened in baseball. The players — like the dart players — weren’t on board at first, but they got there, and now stats are part of baseball’s DNA. But it never really happened in cricket. You can’t have a revolution if the game has always been analyzed the same way. Sure, there are new stats, new benchmarks, but nothing that has anyone up in arms. Sabermetrics and its spawn changed baseball forever. Cricket has changed, too, but not in the same way.

Which brings me to the second part of Liew’s article that stuck out for me. Quoting now:

Perhaps the rise of the analysts is merely a sign that darts, the game of the English pub, is evolving into something else entirely.

Maybe cricket never really happened in the USA because there was never a revolution. The game just soldiered on. There was never any reason for 20something stat heads to collect data and make suggestions based on that data. Cricket already did that. Americans aren’t interested in cricket because they haven’t figured out how to bring capitalism to it. In fact, cricket is doing that all on its own just fine, with the T20 and the 100 and etc.

This is all just conjecture. But when I see games like darts start to take off in America, it always confuses me. What is it about cricket that makes it impossible for it to make inroads? This is just one more theory. Darts, the British pub game, is now a worldwide phenomenon. Who would have thunk it? Not me. Not before cricket finally made it here anyway.

There are literally scores of reasons and theories about why cricket hasn’t happened here. I have written about most of them. No half-way decent national team. Racism. Not in the Olympics. Expensive equipment. And on and on. And it’s probably a combination of all of them. You can add “lack of statistical revolution” to the pile now, I guess.

The game has evolved though. More so than any other sport, it races toward change in the hopes that the next big shift around the next corner will be the thing that finally makes it thrive and puts it up with the big time global sports: the NFL, soccer. But it hasn’t found it yet. So the old guard continues to bristle, as the new guard continues to ignore the game. And maybe that’s the change cricket is missing: young people changing the game to suit their desires. Like baseball. Like darts. Instead cricket is the old guard making changes that their peers dislike, and so the game exists in some sort of horrible feedback loop.

Cricket changes for the sake of change, it seems. While darts has changed for the sake of modernity. Maybe that’s the difference. Not the stats, but the injection of new ideas from young minds. Cricket has never had that. Maybe someday it will. But ideas like the 100 and countless T20 franchise leagues aren’t gonna make it happen.

That’s what I am on the lookout for though. A young person doing something in and for the game that’s never been done before, that turns the game on its head, even though the game remains the same. That doesn’t just make it shorter, or faster, but makes it better.


My friend Dave has a cabin on the edge of the Boundary Waters in northern Minnesota. From Duluth you take Highway 61 — yes, that Highway 61 — north to Grand Marias, a tiny village on the edge of north shore of Lake Superior, and then the Gunflint Trail north and west to Seagull Lake, where the cabin sits overlooking one of the more beautiful spots in all the world.

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My view for the last five days.

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The two of us went up there together last fall. We read and wrote and drank beer and woke at dawn and climbed Blueberry Hill in the mist and cloud.

I had been up there before. Years earlier. The fall I moved in with my now ex-wife. It was a boys trip. Four of us. And it was September but still summer. We canoed and fished and swam. All skinny youth on the edge of a cliff. It was different this last time. Not just because of the weather, and age, and time, but the entire landscape had changed. 10 years earlier the Gunflint Trail burned to the ground. It was May and the timber was dry and the winds picked up and a camper was careless and what would later be called the Ham Lake fire ravaged 7,500 acres of old growth forest. 11 years later the landscape was slowly coming back to life, but the trees were all short pines and some birch. All the big cedar and oaks were long, long gone. Dust and ash in the wind.

There was only one death caused by the fire. Two years after it was put out, the careless camper committed suicide.

My friend’s cabin survived. Somehow. They had a sprinkler system installed that pumped water from the lake and doused the cabin and surrounding land in a constant deluge of water. And it saved the cabin. Despite the fact that most of their neighbors were left with nothing but holes in the ground.

One of those neighbors sold their land to my friend’s family. The cabin had been in the previous owner’s family for almost three generations. But there was nothing left to it. Just a hole, and a concrete slab, and charred land and trees and blackened rock.

On our last day north, we walked over to that new property. We looked at the trees and growth that would need clearing. We walked the rocky shore, slipping on rocks from the basement of time. And then we climbed up to where the cabin had stood. We shuffled down into the hole, walked on the concrete slab, saw the broken glass on the ground where the windows had shattered in the intense and horrible heat of that intense and horrible fire.

“Lots of ghosts,” I said.

“Yeah,” my friend Dave said.

And there were. You could feel them in the air. Whole generations. Maybe not people but ideas and thoughts and love and sadness. It was thick as flies. You felt like you could reach out and shoo them away from your face. They crawled all over your skin. It was hard to breathe. There was this silent intense melancholy to the entire scene. The hole in the ground felt like a burial site, an ancient one, one that had seen thousands of bones and tears. It weighed heavy on your shoulders as you walked the land. The lake still, the trees still, everything still. Except for the ghosts.

There are ghosts everywhere. Not like from the movies or from Unsolved Mysteries or cartoons. Our ghosts are memories, and sometimes they take a physical form, not one that you can see, but one that you can sense, in the air around you. If you listen, if you pay attention, there are always ghosts. It might be easier on the scene of a burned out husk of once loved cabin, but they are still everywhere.

Cricket is an old game. And today as I was reading the scores of the matches playing out all over the world, that thought didn’t leave me. Cricket is old. And everything old has ghosts. There are ghosts in the grounds, in the changing rooms. I can sense them whenever I watch a match, I realized today. And I can only assume that the players see them too, whenever they walk out onto those ancient grounds that have seen so much joy, so much sadness, so much frustration.

I remember going to Fenway Park for the first time. And during the national anthem I thought about all of the countless people who had passed through that old, old ground. And I felt the ghosts of all those people pass through and around me. And I felt the weight of history. And in that weight I felt grounded, whole, a part of something bigger. And there was joy there, but also an almost unbearable sadness, a sadness for the simple passage of time.

And cricket is older than baseball. And it has seen more, been a part of more. Been a colonizer and a weapon of peace. Had its stadiums bombed in wars, lost whole generations of players to those same wars. And with all that hope and tragedy come ghosts, that we can see even on television, thousands of miles away. It’s something I never thought of before. I had thought about cricket’s age, and its role as a witness to history, and how it was something we can all mark time by. But it is an active participant too. Not just the players we see in front of us now, but all that came before them. And not just the players but all of us, in the terraces, on the other side of radios, TVs, computers. We are all wrapped up in it. Cricket’s ghosts are all around us. And maybe that’s what attracts certain people to this game. Those spirits of a long passed age, hanging on, imbuing every ball with meaning, with sadness, with time, with joy.

Cricket is an old game. And with that age comes ghosts. And with those ghosts comes weight, and a sense of belonging to something great. I am not sure what that something is. Whether it is time or history or God or the universe. But when allow ourselves to feel cricket’s ghosts, that is when the game becomes more than a game, and then we have no choice but to keep coming back, to keep that wonderful sense of doleful joy alive in everything we see.

A TV smarter than all of us

There’s cricket happening. All over the world. Australia versus New Zealand in a day/night Test in Perth. Sri Lanka versus Pakistan in another Test in Rawalpindi, Pakistan — the first Test match to take place in Pakistan since their same opponents visited in 2008-2009. There is also the Bangladesh Premier League. And a highly entertaining India vs West Indies series. And what appeared to have been a fun New Zealand vs England series, the same England team now in South Africa for four Tests and a bunch of one Day cricket starting on Boxing Day.

I have not watched any of it.

My credit card was comprised in early November and so I assumed my Willow account had been subsequently cancelled — and I was just going to let it be — but it turns out they were able to scrape my new debit card number and keep charging me, so my account is active. (Willow is like Jason from the Friday the 13th movies: they never die, they just keep coming back.) But I assumed the account was cancelled so I didn’t even bother trying to watch. But I probably wouldn’t have anyway. In mid-November I went to Europe. Then San Francisco. Then work got crazy. And not only did I not watch, I didn’t even pay attention. The most cricket coverage I consumed was from the accounts I follow on Instagram.

This happens a lot to me. I fall away from the game, and then the blog, and then the thought of coming back here fills me with anxiety so not only do I not write about the game, I completely ignore it altogether. It’s a coping mechanism that’s been problematic for me in the past and one that I am trying to get better at, but it still happens.

So here I am.

Last weekend I bought a TV. One of those Smart TVs that’s way more complicated than it needs to be. You can’t just turn a TV on and start watching these days. It has to update its software and connect to your wi-fi and you need apps and streaming service accounts and all that nonsense. But I got through it. And got it hooked up. And when I pulled up Willow TV on my phone I was able to cast it right to the television and for the first time in a very long time the rarest of rare events happened:

I was watching cricket on a full sized television while sitting on my couch.

I think that has happened maybe one or twice before. When I was able to stream it through the ESPN app on my Xbox, and then later — way later — when I would stream matches on my computer connected to my TV. But other than that, I have always consumed cricket either on my phone or on a computer. Neither of those is ideal. But they worked for me for many years. I would watch whole days of Test matches sitting at the desk in my old house for hours and hours. It was just how I did it. And because of the inherent discomfort in consuming media in that manner, it was easy for me to drift away from.

We all choose to consume media in our own way. It’s a hallmark of the current digital media landscape. We want to watch what we want to watch, when we want to watch it and on the device that is most convenient for us. For a long time, I didn’t subscribe to that part of the Zeitgeist. I had an ancient iPhone, a work laptop, and that’s it. But I now I have a new phone. And a new television. And with both of those things I hope to make watching this game I love a little easier, and stop with all the slipping away.

I mean. There is something special about relaxing on a couch watching something you love. It’s not the same on a phone or on a laptop with headphones on. For too long I assuaged this common practice. But now I might embrace it. It’s okay to settle in, relax, turn on the telly and just forget about it all for a while. Entertainment doesn’t have to be hard. That’s what work is for. I have an impossible time relaxing and enjoying myself and I hope this helps fix that, if just a little bit. My mother always says that if work was fun then they wouldn’t call it work. And the opposite is true too: down time should be down time. Leisure time shouldn’t be work. You can read and listen to and attend events that challenge you, but the minute they stop blowing your hair back, you should move on.

There’s a joke I make a lot when I am out watching Arsenal at the local bar. The fellas will be hanging on to a slim one goal lead late in extra time and they will give up a series of corners and it’s horrendous. It’s torture. “This is what we do for fun!” I will say out loud to brake the tension, and everyone will laugh, it never fails. But it’s also part of bigger point: why invite stress into your life if you don’t need to? The answer is a little obvious: because the joy on the other side is worth it. And so in that sense it’s different. It’s okay to invite stress and effort into your leisure time as long as the payoff is worth it. Finishing “The Brothers Kamarazov” is worth the struggle. “Moby Dick” though? Probably not. (Trust me on this, I read both last summer.) For too long I have thought less of myself when I have allowed myself to just relax. People will ask me about my perfect day and I will say that I need to wake up early, do chores, go on a bike ride, hit a yoga class, do some writing, do some reading, get outside and be active, and then finally I can have a beer and sit in the sun and be okay. That’s insane. I mean. You need to be productive, you need to get the things done that need to get done. But now and again it’s okay to curl up with a glass of wine on the couch and watch cricket on a nice TV for a few hours.

I put a lot of my flaws and faults and quirks on the fact that I lost a parent young. I never allow people to get close, I am riddled with worry and anxiety, etc. But I think the above is one too. I constantly feel like I am running out of time, that it’s all passing me by. But it’s not. It’s all here. Just sit down and enjoy what’s around you, now and again. Life is short, yes, but it is also long.

All of this ramble was a long way of saying that I plan on consuming cricket in a different way, And because of that new and different consumption of the game, I hope to see it in a different way, and therefore be able to write about it with a new light shining on the paper, something I oh so desperately want right now.

I also might watch His Dark Materials.


I took some posts down the other day. Someone reached out to me — not who you might think — and asked me to do so, as they didn’t like how they were portrayed. So I did what I thought was the right thing and took them down, out of respect for their wishes.

And then I didn’t want to write here at all. Like the sanctity of this place where I have written over the last eight-plus years had been violated. I didn’t even like thinking of this blog. I wanted to take it all down. Blow up the whole place and walk away like a scene from a film. This was a special place where I could — to the chagrin of most of my readers — write about whatever I wanted to. It was my one place in all the world where it didn’t matter what I wrote, I could just write.

Over the last few weeks I’ve wanted to write about how beautiful the weather was on the day I had to move all of my things out of my old house. It was this perfect spring day and the lilacs were blooming and the grass needed mowing. I’ve wanted to write about my father-in-law and how happy he had been that I was marrying his daughter. I’ve wanted to write about the magnets that used to be on my old fridge and how sad they made me to think about. I’ve wanted to write about all of the little, middling things from my old life that make me sad now. This doesn’t mean I want that life back, it just means that it makes me sad. There’s a difference. And not having this place to write made me feel … off. There’s something about hitting that magic, red “PUBLISH” button that makes this different then writing in an endless Google Doc. It was like without this site, I would never write again. Not anything. Not anywhere. I didn’t even want to write rubbish about cricket here. I wanted to walk away from it all.

But I couldn’t. And so I put the posts back up. And it felt right. And I am back to write here, and since I am writing here I can write elsewhere. About anything. I don’t want this place to go away. I know I have pivoted away from the cricket, but I will get back to that at some point in earnest. Or maybe not. This is my place. I am choosing to use it as such. I will write about that awful spring day and how I worry that it is going to sit in the pit of my heart forever. The dog was put away in a back bedroom. There was so much anger. It fizzled in the air. It was hot. I was sweating buckets. The grass needed mowing. If nothing had happened it would have been a perfect day. I would have worked in the yard, sat on the patio in the sun, read my book, drank cold beer from a ice-filled cooler. But everything had happened. And I couldn’t take it back. And I don’t think I have felt the sun on my face since.

If it had been a normal day, it would have been a perfect day. Instead it was blue sky and spring and horror.

Heartbreak in the spring is like a summer cold: it doesn’t make any sense. Spring is a time for hope, for renewal, for rebirth, for rising from the ashes. It’s not for endings. It’s for beginnings. Which is why the best musicians and poets write about springtime heartbreaks. The jarring juxtaposition makes the ending seem more horrible, more real. Anyone can write about a November sadness, or a long winter made longer, but it takes a special lyricist to move that sadness onto a perfect spring day, when the sun is on your face, and the birds are singing a cheerful song, and the whole world is so perfect and new and yet is simultaneously ending. The blue sky falling all around you.

Each spring in England cricket teams walk out into the damp mornings with hope on their shoulders. There is no heartbreak. That’s for later. There are setbacks and obstacles, but always another match. Until there isn’t, but that’s so distant it’s impossible to even seen. The wrenching, twisting spiral of ending exists too far in the future to grasp — even if it is just a few months away.  Spring is hope. Endings belong in October. We are given too few perfect days to waste one on leaving. But that’s what I did. And I will never get that day back.

In Spring of 2020 when those cricketers make the first movements of the season, I might be better, I might begin anew along with them. Until then though it is darkness here, and cold, and bitterness. But there is cricket. It’s summer in Australia. I write about this a lot. Probably too much. There’s sun on faces, just not here. Not yet. Maybe soon. Until then I will tune in Willow and watch the heat and the sweat and the haze and the shirtsleeves and try not to think of that horrible spring day all those months ago.

That’s what I want to write about.