Tuesday 27 August 2019

England cricket - back in my heart again

Something I did not see - Stokes's Low key celebration of his century (100 runs) - he still needed another 35 runs

I was not enjoying much of this summer's Ashes Test series; because of the batting. England's current Test batting is probably the worst it has been in the history of the professional sport; while watching our (very good) bowlers utterly failing to get-out the Australian Steve Smith has been almost unbearable. Smith is probably the best batsman of the past half century; but is a nasty person, a cheat and horribly ugly to watch.

Yet on Sunday afternoon was one of the miraculous things of sport, when England were (as usual) heading inexorably towards another heavy and deserved defeat; and then this was almost single-handedly - and impossibly - turned to victory by the batting of Ben Stokes.

Expert judges of the game with decades of experience (eg. Geoffrey Boycott - a man not given to hyperbole, to put it mildly) called it the greatest innings they had ever seen; given the context (Ashes on the line), the superb quality of the Australian bowling, the sheer pressure...

I was very involved with the experience, and 'yet' - as with several of my favourite sporting events - I was listening on radio (Test Match Special). The visual events therefore happening in my imagination (of course I knew, from previous TV, what everybody looked like and how they played). And I could scarcely have enjoyed it more!

It's interesting, and probably significant; that apparently less is more, sometimes - maybe often. The absence of the visual apparently engaged the emotions more than if I could have seen it. Less passive and externally-manipulated; more active and free.


Francis Berger said...

I have known many baseball enthusiasts who refused to watch the sport and only listened to games on the radio. I know nothing about cricket, but it seems bat sports have a narrative quality to them. Of course much depends on the storyteller, in this case the broadcasters and announcers.

Philip Keefe said...

What an amazing victory. I grew up on cricket though I have lost touch over the years being now in Florida but I happened to follow the match vaguely on the Guardian live updates. At one point England were 8 wickets down so I assumed it was over. Then later I saw the amazing headline saying they'd won so I went on Youtube and watched the last few overs. Truly a hero's innings from Stokes.
But my interest had been rekindled a few days back when you wrote about the Australian ball tampering scandal. That whole thing had passed me by here but following your article I read all about it. It was a sad event for cricket and for Australia whose arrogance about a lot of things tends to be annoying.
Growing up my generation were told "cheats never prosper" and maybe Sunday was a slight comeuppence for the Aussies.

Epimetheus said...

That's an interesting comment, that voluntarily participating with imagination has a way of reaching deeper into the mind.

One of my brothers-in-law is into old-time radio dramas, with voice actors, effects, and soundscapes.

The relative ease and cheapness of making radio dramas - as compared with TV, movies, and videogames etc - is intriguing from the perspective of Good modern artists, who probably have to work in solitude in today's culture.

Karl said...

I listened also on TMS and it was tremendous and thrilling. Later that evening I watched the Sky highlights and it seemed flat, Nasser Hussain's commentary being almost banal. The Five 48 minute compilation was better, but again, seemed almost dull in comparison with the radio. TMS is far more homely and human than any of the tv coverage.

dearieme said...

I followed it on the Guardian's over-by-over coverage (just about the only identifiable merit to The Guardian).

Then I indulged myself by watching the highlights on Channel 5. Rip-roaring, Roy of the Rovers stuff.

I've not listened to Test Match Special since they moved it from The Third Programme, as it is properly called.

I still think a wavelength devoted to Classical Music, cricket, some jazz, and a bit of lit was a pretty good idea.

Bruce Charlton said...

Glad to hear that several of you were also able to enjoy it in real time.

Radio plays were a big thing in my youth, nowadays I listen to audio books, plus the occasional drama.

@d The Third prog did seem designed for Oxbridge dons, so it fits the bill!

I associate TMS with 1500 metres long wave; which could be received everywhere in England, no matter how remote, but never very clearly...

I still enjoy TMS despite recurrent fears They have ruined it - Graeme Swann is certainly one of the best they've ever featured. Ed Smith was vg too, before leaving to become the dreadful chief selector he currently is...

dearieme said...

'Radio plays were a big thing in my youth'

"Journey Into Space" by Charles Chilton: that was on the wireless. It's funny how odd little fragments of memory survive from years for which I remember almost nothing else.