Like most other people, I’ve been enjoying watching the Olympics. The opening ceremony was an unexpected triumph of creativity. The cycling is very entertaining, especially when that chap in a black suit on a moped leads the groups of racers round the track five times. What is that about?
What bugged me, however, was in the lead-up to the games – watching hyperventilating TV commentators going on, and on, about how exciting it was that the Games were only 5 or 4 days away, or whatever. Asking random people, “Are you really excited about the games?” Random dude, “Yes, I’m really excited about the games!” It was totally dreadful television.
I’m glad I didn’t watch the Olympics yesterday, and watched the Test Match instead. Our Seth Ifrikans against their Seth Ifrikans. Wonderful stuff. Kevin Pietersen took the game to a new level with a unique display of aggressive batting against the world’s best bowlers. It was actually quite exciting.
Cricket isn’t really meant to be exciting. That’s not the main point of the game. Well, Test cricket, anyway. T20 can be exciting, but it’s very rare that Test Matches are exciting. Tense, yes. Intense, yes. Fascinating, yes. There are sometimes five day draws which make excellent watching. But you can wait five years for an exciting finish, like in the 2005 Ashes.
Usually, the most interesting moments are when England batters are up against the wall and attempting a rearguard action. Like when Atherton faced up to White Lightening for several hours.
But yesterday at Headingly was different. It was thrilling. It was quite different to what has happened in other matches. Pietersen’s innings, as Cricinfo states, “…grew not just from innate talent but a colossal belief in his own ability.” And at the other end, making his debut at this level, the tiny James Taylor playing an altogether different type of game. Taylor is barely 5ft 6inches. Bowling at him was Morne Morkel, who is 6ft 6inches.
What a wonderful game cricket is, that it has so many elements. Where people of such different physiques can play against each other, and where even after so many years of the game it is possible to watch something entirely new.
Pietersen is currently on 149 not out. The game is not yet saved. It could still end up another Spion Kop. But what a match!