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You know what I REALLY want from the Oval test match next week? A full five days of it – that’s what.

August 14, 2015

boycott

We’ve missed a test match this summer.  We’re owed one.  The one-sided contests we’ve seen have deprived us of at least five days of Ashes cricket.

So more than a “result” next week, I’d like to see a properly prolonged contest.  I want to see long dull batting sessions where immense scores are ever so slowly accumulated.  I want to see bowlers get sweaty and frustrated and I want there to be long periods of play where nothing much seems to happen.  Because that’s what this Ashes series has lacked up to this point and I have to say I’ve missed it.

The thing about test cricket is that there’s no such thing as a “great” one-sided match.  A one-sided match is a truncated match, a match in which the spectators, viewers, even readers – are missing out to some extent.  This is a function of a time-elastic game.  Time specific sports are different.  If you are a Barcelona fan, you can watch your team thrash Real Madrid 12-0 (in some sort of dream scenario) and regard it as the perfect game.  But in tennis, for example, you could be the greatest Roger Federer fan on earth but if you were to watch Federer thrash Nadal or Murray 6 love, 6 love, 6 love – you wouldn’t describe the outcome as a “great game”.  You’d feel you’d missed out on something,

You don’t have to be some “Neutral” supported at a test match to want both sides to play well – because you need both sides to play well to prolong the game, to contribute to the grand narrative of the experience.

Next week, I want to hear at least one commentator say out loud “this match appears to be headed for a draw”.

Now it’s not that I want the match to end in a draw especially – I just want a draw to be a plausible outcome for much of the game.  I want the match to feel like it might end in a draw for long sections.  It’s fine for the match to have a result, provided this result emerges in the final or at least penultimate session of the fifth day,

The most exciting thing about test cricket is the fact that it can accommodate long stretches of tedium.  Indeed, without the long stretches of tedium, the moments of sheer excitement are far less exciting.

And this is why T20 cricket will never be as exciting as test cricket.  Never ever ever.  All efforts to condense all the most exciting aspects of the game erase the most essential aspect of excitement – wondering if and when something exciting is ever going to happen.  Only within a larger narrative pattern in which tedium is an essential ingredient can real excitement – real surprise, and real indeterminacy flourish.

Test Cricket is the most important work of defiance against the self-defeating aspects of what Elias and Manning called “The Quest for Excitement”.   I haven’t seen enough test cricket this summer.  That’s why I want the Oval match slowed right down.

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2 Comments
  1. jon brown permalink

    Conrad – the only way it will be a draw is for 3 dyas to be washed out by rain or bad light. Dont think too mant batsmen can play the long gritty innings that you refer to.

  2. I can dream, can’t I?

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