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.

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