Passed the Test
For many of us, summer is synonymous with Test cricket. Coming home from work or school, throwing yourself on the couch and zoning out for an hour or two to the hypnotic ‘thock’ of leather on willow is the nation’s preferred form of meditation. Forget One-Dayers – pyjama cricket – Test cricket is where the true romance and beauty of life resides. But sadly, due to the actions of greedy administrators and foolish, arrogant players, it seemed like we might be losing not only the game, but a part of our country’s soul. This summer there is a sense of hope though. Is Test cricket about to enter a bright new age?
Its resurgence began, as it often does, with a battle against the old enemy. We sent our men into the shadows of Mordor (Old Trafford) and they emerged like victorious hobbits with the sacred urn. Gollum, also known as Joe Root, and his evil orcs, Stuart Broad and Jimmy Anderson, were sent scuttling back to the dark holes from whence they came, to gorge themselves on man-flesh (blood pudding) and gather strength for the next battle. Sure, we didn’t technically win the urn, but isn’t it said there are no winners in war?
There were some winners though, sports fans and Test cricket. It has sparked a renewed energy for the summer of cricket that, even at its peak, series’ against Pakistan and New Zealand wouldn’t have usually generated.
It wasn’t just the result that won us back, it was the manner in which it was achieved. Tim Paine may not be the best captain this country has ever produced, and is certainly not the best cricketer, but geez, he’d make a good politician. It’s a strange indictment on society that we’d be lauding someone for being a normal, nice, person, but that’s what Tim Paine is, a nice enough bloke you’d be happy to have a beer with. He’ll be sacked within the year, of course – once an acceptable amount of time has passed for Steve Smith’s penance – but that’s ok, he’s done his job. He’s hosed the mud off the Tarago and now we can drive it past the neighbour’s house again. They say nice guys finish last, but finally that wasn’t the case.
It’ll be interesting to see if the nice guy shtick is continued over the rest of summer, especially against the nicest of all nice guys, the New Zealand cricket team. It’s easy to maintain a higher moral ground against English bullies, or be chummy with polite Pakistanis, but when your so-friendly-it’s-irritating cousin comes to town for a bit of backyard hit and giggle, it’s hard to resist the urge to bounce them out of the game and send them sulking back inside for a fruit-cup cordial and a cuddle from Mum. It’s the Australian way.
Whatever happens, I’m just happy to have that familiar ‘thock’ back in my ears. I didn’t realise how much I’d missed it.