There’s been a multitude of writing bemoaning the fact that in 2005 the greatest advertisement for Test Cricket of all time was accessible to anyone with a TV, meaning that people who’d never taken any interest in cricket before but just had to find out for themselves what was making the entire country suddenly act like lunatics.
They could do that with the flick of the switch, no hoops to jump through and no barriers between the game and a potential life long follower. The players had done their part and showed the world cricket they way it should be, because the world was able to watch.
This year, the World Cup final was the ODI equivalent of that 2005 series, but it was only seen in its full glory by those who already cared about it, like a teenager parading their chic outfit for the parents before going clubbing in shorts and a singlet.
Only those at the ground or who could afford pay tv (and thought cricket worth the price), would have been able to watch every ball live, seeing the twists and turns of one of the greatest matches of all time unfold before their eyes, waiting for the next stunning mind bender that would come along just as you had decided that it was impossible for your heart to beat any faster without it bursting from your chest like a killer alien.
Secondhand stress induction
Other people had to follow radio or internet commentary, hanging off every word or cursing and hitting refresh when a page didn’t update quickly enough. But, that’s how good a game it was, even at that remove it was a nail biter. I was working night shift, my time sensitive deliverable on one screen, cricket website on the other.
I was only able to tune in about 10 overs into England’s chase and I remembered too many defeats snatched from the jaws of victory to ever feel at ease. When we got to the final few overs every ball was fraught with a sense of doom and never lacked for excitement. By the end I was almost screaming each ball’s result across the office and regretting every skipped gym session as my heart found a whole other gear I had no idea existed.
Sometimes cliches ring true
Only the most petty or the most one eyed of fans could care more about the result than witnessing a game like that. The winner almost didn’t matter (almost. It mattered to England who had been denied a World Cup too many times). But, even though the rules had been designed to make sure there had to be a winner, other than in a the strict sense, there weren’t any losers.
Cricket was the winner, and we can look forward to when it is back on free to air, and if there is ever another game like this everyone will see it—and will probably be tuning in because, after this one, who would take the chance they might miss out on the next one?
And, above all, everyone one who watched was a winner, too, no matter who you supported. Even England fans might have agreed that in this case a tie wouldn’t have been a bad thing, because there were no losers on the ground no matter what the score book says.