The greatest ride in sport

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On Monday, the cricket lover in your house was probably hopping up and down on the couch like a toddler left in charge of the supermarket sugar section, because there was Test match cricket happening. 

To the fans, it was utterly gripping. To the rest of the household, it was as perplexing as herbal tea.

To be fair, some of its concepts are pretty mystifying. At the end, Pakistan were refusing to score runs even though they needed less than ten to win, as the decent batsman tried to protect the one picked last.

These days everyone gets one day and T20 cricket, roughly. The math is straightforward – Grant Elliot needed five runs to get us in the world cup final, he hit it for six, simple. Plus you only have to put up with it for a day , tops. 

But Tests… for fans, every win represents not just the time you’ve managed to spend watching over the last five days, but a commitment to the game that builds up over a lifetime.

Frustration, rain, boredom, defeat… they’re all part of a Test cricket fan’s burden. It’s no co-incidence we usually refer to ourselves as tragics. 

Then suddenly, like a bus losing its brakes and coming right at you, a match gets close and you’re plunged into agony and hope, your heart beats in a genuinely alarming way and concerns like work, family and your reputation as a sane, functional member of society fade away.    
When your team wins a close one, fans often declare their love for the game, as well as the team. Cricket Twitter was full of ‘How great is Test cricket?’ and ‘How can you not love it?’ on Monday night. You don’t often get All Blacks fans declaring ‘I love rugby!’ at their moments of triumph. 

There’s no doubt five day cricket is an anachronism, and fans  genuinely worry it could all come crashing down one day, when the economics of putting on such a resource-hungry game for a small section of fans doesn’t work any more. 

We need to find a common language, so we can share the intense highs and lows of the format without presenting as a slacker lunatic fringe. A great Test is often compared to reading a novel, that feeling of either triumph or anguish and something you don’t want to finish coming to an end. 

White clothing, long shadows and unparalleled drama are a heady combination, team. Without wishing a lifetime of angst and lost productively on you and yours, I highly recommend giving Test cricket a go.  

Author: Richard Irvine

Welcome to sportreview.net.nz - here's a bit about the site. Here I am on Twitter, or email me at richard (at) richardirvine dot com.

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