This week I watched a whole cricket test match for the first time. A couple of blogs ago I wrote about learning to love American Football (well done the Buccaneers). At least with cricket I know the rules. And I have been to a day of a test match before – it requires a very different mindset to watching short form cricket such as 20:20. You settle into your seat, and read a newspaper or have a drink while the game goes on slowly slowly. One of my followers, Matt, commented that American Football is like chess with violence. Test cricket is like chess but slower. And this week I committed to all five days of England against India.
For many people, the idea of spending five days watching a sports game would seem to be a complete waste of time. Especially when one of the likely outcomes is a draw. But the opportunity for me was a luxury that I would never have chosen when I was working. And I found it to bring a kind of mindfulness.
Over the years I have practiced a little amateur meditation in order to wash away the cares in my mind. By actions such as concentrating on relaxing areas of my body, I have found a peacefulness that has helped during times of stress. I found the test match did much the same for me. There were moments of excitement when I sat forward to see whether a wicket would be taken or runs scored. But for much of the time I found that repeated quiet defensive play became really quite relaxing.
Now I should confess that in UK time, each day started at 4am, so I missed the first hour or two. I also often took the dogs out in the snow while listening to the match on my headphones. But I think the principle of enjoying slow play still applies. So much so that I plan to watch the second test starting tomorrow.
Most of us live in a rush where we resent wasted time. Technology such as mobile phones has made this worse. How many of us look at our phones whenever we get a spare 30 seconds? Even when we go on holiday, too many of us are “always on”. So I think I am privileged to be learning that taking time just to be me can be so rewarding.
Have you ever watched a test match? Or maybe took several days to do as little as possible? Let me know.
You’ll be aware I have travelled the world to watch cricket many a time …. and only test match cricket. The majority have guaranteed sunshine and excellent hospitality but I’m known for not moving from my spot for 5 days. Scared to miss a moment.
For me cricket can be like a series of small battles to win a war. Bowling in a certain way for many balls, just to lull the batsmen into a well planned trap. Much of cricket is won in the mind. The strength of forgetting everything (especially the last ball that nearly took you head off) and taking every ball as the first one.
Maybe that’s why my favourite cricketers are like Atherton and Dravid. Huge mental capacity to bat for 6 hours.
It’s called a ‘test’ match for a good reason,
That certainly matches my experience last week Matt. Question for you. As a pitch becomes unpredictable due to cracking (as ChennaI) how do batsmen avoid getting out?
Well typically the answer on difficult wickets is ‘stick around it will get easier’.
But with spinners they don’t get tired and the pitch actually gets worse.
The winning innings was Rohit Sharma, he was aggressive from ball one. He knew the pitch was at it best in the first two sessions.
Joe Root tried a similar method but the pitch was all ready too bad.
With spinners it’s all about footwork. Fully forward or fully back and be capable of both. English players aren’t practiced enough on such pitches so only tend to master one.
Kohli was too aggressive in the first innings and relied on his talent more in the second.
PS listen out for my favourite saying. Natural variation.
That means some spin and some don’t. I translate as the bowler doesn’t know if its going to spin, so how could the batsmen.