Cricket the Winner

by Bernard Whimpress

Lunch Time Play

Lunch Time Play

Australia might have won the first Test match at Wellington’s Basin Reserve by an innings and 52 runs last week but the game itself was the winner.

When I was in short pants Norman Vincent Peale’s The Power of Positive Thinking was prominently displayed in bookshops and racking up good sales. Positive thinking is often associated with stating the affirmative ‘Yes’. But ‘Yes’ is not necessarily good. ‘No’ can be better. Yes.

I attended the Basin to witness the New Zealand/Australia Test. It was my third visit to one of the world’s prettiest grounds after previously being present at the New Zealand/England matches of 2008 and 2013.

It was intensely enjoyable for mainly negative reasons:

  1. No blaring music before play or during the main breaks.
  2. No mindless pre-recorded interviews with players screened via the replay screen.
  3. No pointless ground announcements.
  4. No advertising on replay screen.
  5. No mundane quizzes which are an excuse for extra advertising.
  6. No lunch or tea-time entertainment.
  7. No kissing for the camera.
  8. No spectator interviews relayed via the replay screen.
  9. No displays of nationalism/jingoism by either team’s supporters.
  10. No support staff hanging around inside the boundary plying players with drinks.
  11. No Mexican Wave.

The effect of these negatives was wonderful:

  1. The tuneful rock and even jazz melodies were played softly allowing easy conversation at all times.
  2. Nothing was lost by the absence of player interviews and the regaling of statistics for it freed up discussion by spectators instead of narrowing topics of conversation.
  3. Ground announcements kept to a bare minimum was an absolute pleasure.
  4. The fact that no advertisements appeared on the replay screen was another delight. The screen showed either the replays or the current batting and bowling combinations and ball-by-ball progress of overs. Nothing more was given and nothing more was required.
  5. The lack of quiz questions at various points of the day was another gain as this is simply a means of thought channeling and an opportunity for further sponsor’s announcements.
  6. No lunch or tea-time entertainment is the biggest benefit of all because it enables spectators to own the ground and the time. By entering the playing field to examine the pitch as well as play cricket and other games with families and friends spectators are able to enjoy a true democracy of sport.
  7. Thank God this nauseating practice of kissing adopted in Australia for a couple of years has now passed and there was no sign of a lag effect here.
  8. No sign either of televised interviews with spectators having their 15 seconds of fame. Who really needs to know what the man, woman or child on the mound is thinking when it reduces the capability for actual individual thinking?
  9. I was concerned when I left home that the ground might be invaded by Australians squawking ‘Aussie, Aussie, Aussie, Oi, Oi, Oi’. I didn’t hear that once. I also sat behind half-a-dozen Fanatics for a day and didn’t hear a squeak or squawk out of them. Enzedders were wearing their one-day shirts and there was plenty of evidence of the Beige Brigade but nothing like the repetitive drivel of the Barmy Army.
  10. Players took their drinks at usual breaks but there were no annoying hangers-on parading around inside the fence. The playing arena remained for players only as it should be.
  11. Remarkably, no Mexican Wave. Enough said.

The positive benefit of the above was that spectators did not have a ‘game day experience’ thrust upon by idiotic marketers who think they know best but really have no idea of the culture and traditions of the sports they represent. Instead I along with other patrons at the Basin Reserve was able to appreciate cricket for its own sake.

Forget the score, the game was very much the winner.

 

About Bernard Whimpress

Freelance historian (mainly sport) who has just written his 40th book. Will accept writing commissions with reasonable pay. Among his most recent books are George Giffen: A Biography, The Towns: 100 Years of Glory 1919-2018, Joe Darling: Cricketer, Farmer, Politician and Family Man (with Graeme Ryan) and The MCC Official Ashes Treasures (5th edition).

Comments

  1. Sounds delightful, Bernard. I reckon we should aim for the test cricket experience to be as unique as possible everywhere. Seeing a test in Wellington should feel distinctly different to the MCG and Sabina Park and Wanderers. Have no problem with match day experience as long as it is not homogenised. Will now be a lifetime goal for me to see a test in NZ in the flesh.

  2. Andrew starkie says

    What’s this? Allowing cricket fans to enjoy game? Trusting the game to entertain? Trusting fans to behave themselves? Respecting game and fans? Will never take off here, what.

  3. Interesting observations, B Whimpress.

    It would be wonderful for lofty decision-makers at
    Melbourne Cricket Club,
    Cricket Australia,
    AFL
    to understand this.

  4. bernard whimpress says

    Thanks Dave, Andrew, ER

    Last week I came across this piece of writing from the then 28-year-old Yorkshire journalist JM Kilburn’s ‘In Search of Cricket’ (1937).

    ‘A great innings or a fine piece of bowling is something more than an athletic event, both to the cricketer concerned and those whose privilege it is to see. Such a feat is a spiritual experience which lingers long after stumps have been drawn for the day, long after the sun has faded from the summer sky, long after youth has gone and only dreams remain to stir the blood of waning years.’

    A little poetic perhaps what’s wrong with poetry? What chance do we have for spiritual experiences when our senses are blasted away and the beauty of the moment is trashed?

    On coming home from NZ last Friday I went to the Australian Women’s Open at Grange Golf Club the next day (day 3), there to appreciate magnificent skill by Lydia Ko, Karrie Webb and others on a beautifully manicured course with only the bird-life and appropriate applause providing much by way of sound.

  5. Dennis Coon says

    Spot on Bernard, Christchurch was just as good.
    After the Test finished kids were playing ON THE PITCH.
    Try that at the MCG.

  6. bernard whimpress says

    Thanks Dennis and for that piece of news from Christchurch. By the way did you hear any abuse of the Australians in either Test as has been claimed? I certainly didn’t at the Basin where I was sitting on the benches as well as the main stand and took several walks each day around the entire ground.

  7. Yes the alleged behaviour of NZ crowds towards Australian cricketers has a long history. I can recall reading Keith Stackpoles and Ashley Mallets book re the abuse meted out by NZ spectators. There seems to be an ongoing chip on their shoulder re Australia in sporting matters. There’s no one they want to beat more, nor lose to less than us.

    I notice Greg Baum had his usual dig at the alleged behaviour of Australian cricketers in the Age today. True Hazlewood acted badly, deserving his punishment, but Greg Baum just can’t resist in having a go at the behaviour of our cricketers. in his eyes they seem to be the only international cricketers who behave badly. Tedious, Mr Baum.

    Glen!

  8. bernard whimpress says

    As I said in my previous comment Glen (and which I alluded to in my article) I didn’t hear any abuse of the Australians from any part of the ground in Wellington.

  9. That’s good to hear Bernard. My better half is a Kiwi, so i’ve spent time over there with her whanau and friends and always enjoyed he time there Hopefully the reports of boorish Anti-Australian behaviour are exagerated

    Glen!

  10. Bob Utber says

    My sentiments on the game and ground completely Bernard. It was a pleasure to be there and soak in the atmosphere of what test cricket is about.
    I spoke with the PA man Mark the day before the game and he gave a great insight on what should happen between overs, between wickets, before and after play and of course the glorious lunch times. Even mentioned what type of music should be played. Had comments myself from strangers about this. He was exasperated with what goes on in Australia and even turned down a job to work with PA at the various grounds! Lucky him
    I mentioned in one of my reports I did not see one police person at the ground – that says a lot.
    Also don’t forget the impact of Brendon McCallum on sporting cricket.
    Citrus Bob

  11. bernard whimpress says

    Thanks for your thoughts Bob, a pity we didn’t meet up. If you’re ever in Adelaide for Test give me a bell on 0447 003 654.

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