One of the most satisfying things about taking someone who knows nothing about cricket to a test is that you get to spend an entire day talking about how much you know about cricket. Other bloggers will know the feeling well. This is my subject. Other people have their own areas that they have the knowledge of a demigod about. But I know my cricket, and dammit, if you ask, I’m going to tell you all about it.
Today I was at the Eden Park test match with my lovely partner, an otherwise very intelligent woman who knows nothing about cricket. By nothing I mean no things whatsoever. I had to explain that runs don’t have to be run, that the 2nd innings can also be the 3rd or 4th innings, that there are two batsmen and everyone else plays for the other team. I loved it. Nothing inflates my ego more than sounding knowledgable about cricket. The perfect moment came during the afternoon session, when Trott came on to bowl.
“Now this is interesting. Trott only bowls very rarely, and him coming into the attack is a sign that England are getting desperate.” I stroked my chin thoughtfully. “Then again, often part time bowlers like Trott can pick up a surprise wicket.”
“Why would a worse bowler get a wicket when a good bowler can’t?” My innocent partner was sweet in her naivety. Cricket, after all is a sport played in the mind. She wasn’t to know that, thinking cricket was as unsubtle and brutish as every other sport. Ah, but I would teach her.
“A batsman like McCullum is very aggressive. He would hate the idea of being bested by a part time bowler, so he’s likely to try and hit out.” McCullum blocked the first ball safely. “Part time bowlers can often be very difficult to play.”
“But why, if they aren’t as good at bowling?”
The New Zealand captain took a big swing at the next one, edging it into his pad. The crowd gasped collectively. “No batsman wants to get out to a part timer, but at the same time they should by all rights be easy to score runs off. The dilemma for McCullum is that he needs to decide whether to try and smash Trott or if he should just play him out safely.”
McCullum took another swing at the next one. “He seems to have decided to try and score some easy runs. It could be very risky for McCullum. In my view he’d be better off playing safely. After all, what is the chance of 4 runs compared to his wicket?” We sat in contemplative silence, digesting the wisdom that I spoke.
“But you said he was a risk taking batsman?” Trott had turned and was beginning his run up again.
“Indeed,” said I. McCullum pushed out at the next ball, not quite meeting it. It happened so fast, and was impossible to see with the naked eye, but all at once the English fielders were jumping for joy. The Barmy Army to our left took a moment to click, then a huge roar went up. McCullum was out, caught by Prior.
“What just happened? Why is everyone shouting?” asked my partner, looking around in confusion. I leaned back in my seat, a smug, self satisfied smile stretching across my face.
“He’s out. He tried to score some runs off the part timer and paid with his wicket. Funny how these things play out in cricket.”
“But it happened exactly how you said it would!” My partner gazed at me with adoring eyes, full of admiration at my superior knowledge of the greatest game. I shrugged modestly. After all, this sort of thing happens to me all the time. No need to make a big deal about it.
*Based on a true story.