In August of 2011 my wife and I attended a wedding in a small town in Wisconsin. The wedding party all stayed in this gorgeous old hotel overlooking Lake Superior. It was a perfect few days. All our friends together in one place for what turned out to the be last time. The weather was gorgeous. We ate, drank, hiked, slept late. We sat out on the balcony over looking the lake drinking beer and talking late into the night. We sang, we danced. And then on Sunday we got into our Subaru and drove the four hours home, through small town Wisconsin, an old friend in the backseat. We stopped only once. At a gas station somewhere. My friend got out and sat on a curb across the street and smoked a cigarette as I pumped gas. It was sunny and warm. We dropped him off at his mother’s house and we hugged goodbye.
That was four months after I started this blog. And right after everything just kind of fell apart.
And that’s the real story of this blog. Or, maybe, it’s the other story. That I started it in the middle of what for a long time I considered the best year I ever had. From the fall of 2010 until that wedding in August of 2011, it felt like everything in my life was clicking. And then after that, and since, I felt drifty, a little lost, like life is passing me by. And, I don’t know, not to be such a cliche, but just a little sad all the time. Some years are better than others, sure, but that weekend in Wisconsin truly marked, for me, the end of the one good year I got. The one good year in this whole mess of a life. And this blog started right in the middle of that year. Which at least partially explains why, now that I think about it, I keep coming back here, why I see it as a place of refuge, a place of hope. Because when I fired up this site on that morning 10 years ago now, my mind was at peace.
Looking back, it was not all wine and roses. There were moments in that year that were downright awful. Times of real pain, real heartache. real worry, real tension, real conflict. But for whatever reason I was able to focus on all the good happening around me. And while I tend to look back on days with rose tinted glasses, I don’t think I am doing that here. I was aware of how great those days were as they were happening. In the fall of 2010 at a party at our house I gave a toast and said out loud “these last six months have been our best six months.” And I knew at the time, after that wedding, or even during the same weekend, that it was coming to an end, that it was over. That the feeling of just being okay, of my mind clicking, of being able to just exist, and be all right. This week I marked the 10 year anniversary of this blog. In August I will mark 10 years of everything just feeling off. Of a life — my life — slowly collapsing. Like time is running out of me. Physically running out of me. And that it is taking the joy with it. 10 years. 700+ posts. Tens of thousands of page views. And so much sadness.
Running alongside me, during that year, was of course the game of cricket. The weekend in Wisconsin was happening during the fourth and final Test between India and hosts England. On August the 22nd, the day after we drove home, England finished off the four Test sweep. The rain soaked Test saw England win the toss and choose to bat and then score 591 runs (Ian Bell scored 235 of those) before declaring. England restricted the visitors to 300 in their first innings, forcing the follow on and then winning by an innings and eight runs. Dravid scored 146 not out in a losing effort in his first innings. Graeme Swann took 6/106 in India’s second innings. Strauss captained England, Dhoni captained India.
In April of 2011, when I started this blog, India had just hosted and won the 2011 World Cup. After the disaster that was 2007, this iteration saw life return to the one day game. Yuvraj Singh was the man of the tournament. Kevin O’Brien embarrassed England with one of the most aggressive displays of batting ever seen. 997 million people watched the final, which India won with just 10 balls remaining, thanks to the aforementioned Dhoni and his unbeaten 91 off of 79 deliveries. One of the great captain’s innings of all time.
The year started in September. With Ireland visiting Zimbabwe and losing two of the three ODIs played. The hosts wouldn’t win another ODI series until 2017, and wouldn’t win one at home until 2019.
Much has changed for all mentioned here. Zimbabwe have been lost in a sea of corruption and poor results. Most of the members of those England and India teams have retired. The names like a who’s who of cricketers from days gone by: Tendulkar, Dhoni, Dravid, Sehwag. Swann, Cook, Prior, Onions. Though the India squad also featured a young Virat Kohli who replaced an injured Yuvraj Singh for the third and fourth Tests. And the England squad was filled with players still out there today.
Sadly, and all jokes aside, the 2011 World Cup feels a long way from what is happening today in India. The country is being ravaged by the Coronavirus. And it appears like it is going to get a whole lot worse before it starts to get better. It comes from a place of privilege, but I can’t force myself to look at the pictures of what is happening there. I just want to look away. The whole world feels different. Mass graves. Funeral pyres. People dying in hospital hallways. 2011 doesn’t feel like 10 years ago. It feels like a million light years away. It breaks my heart. I hate saying things like that, since it feels so hollow. Real people are dying, real people are mourning, everyone is scared. But here in Minnesota, on this cloudy Sunday morning, my heart just aches for India, and thinking of the 2011 World Cup win just solidifies how much worse off we all are today. Ten years on.
This is the story of this blog. And this is the story I want to write. My life running alongside cricket. Cricket running alongside the world. Two recent posts ended with more or less the same sentence, describing the same idea: cricket counting the days, and urging us to keep up. It’s not metaphor, it truly is doing that. For me, in my life, and for all of us, even those people who don’t even know it. That’s the story of this blog. And that’s the story I want to write.