Twenty20 cricket is like meaningless sex
It sorta felt good but it felt kinda wrong too. An outburst of sweaty passion on a sweet summer evening. But when it was done, there was nothing. No afterglow, just a vague sense of emptiness.
You certainly didn’t feel like lighting a cigarette afterwards.
Boxing Day, and some genius with a marketing degree who likely earns twice the average wage decided they’d stage a Sydney Hobart Twenty20 cricket match in the evening because, y’know, there’s that Sydney Hobart boat thing happening too.
Off we trooped to the SCG, or what’s left of it, via a little-used Sydney mode of conveyance known as “public transport”. There was my boy, my brother, his boy and me. Four blokes well pleased with the bargain family ticket price of $42.50 until the first round of cold pies and soggy chips set us back that and more.
We ate, we sat, we clapped our free blow up clappy things together (do those things have a name?) and we willingly donned the complimentary pink headbands of “our” team, the Sydney Sixers.
Safe to say it wasn’t the first time a large group of men in Sydney’s Paddington precinct have proudly worn pink.
When your team is called the Sixers, there’s only one kind of shot you’re expecting to see and it ain’t singles or energetically hustled twos. It’s not even crisply struck drives for four.
We wanted sixes and we wanted them now. We didn’t care if they arrived as classical lofted inside out drives or ugly heaves. Just hoick that pill over the fence, would yas? Oh, and be considerate and hit it in our direction.
The sixes eventually came, but not as quickly as we’d hoped. Also, the batsmen insisted on hitting them to the members’ end of the ground. A bit discourteous, really.
Runs were scored across both innings at a rate of eight per over. In Tests, a rate like that would be as thrilling as surfing the roof of a bullet train. This felt more like the Sydney rattler we took to Central earlier in the evening. It’s amazing how contextual sport can be. Cricket doubly so.
In the end, the Hobart Humpbacks (or whatever they’re called) easily chased down the Sydney Sixers. Remember when you’d talk for months about a match decided on the second last ball?
Hobart did exactly that but no one will remember this game. From early on in the Hobart innings, their victory was as inevitable as Ricky Ponting’s next round of Yeah Yeah treatment.
Speaking of Ponting, he led the way for Hobart, leading to many questions from the boys. Um, Dad, why is he so good, but not good enough to play for Australia anymore?
It was just too tricky to answer that by explaining that T20 is hopelessly skewed in favour of batsmen with a good eye but questionable and/or fading techniques.
But it’s true. T20 cricket is all about batting. Why else is it called the Big Bash rather than, say, the Big Crash? And when the big bashes do come, it’s party time. Just ask the guy in yellow lederhosen two rows in front of us, or the countless Gangnam horsey dancers in the crowd.
The thing is, it all felt a bit put on. People were there to have a good time but the best times in sporting arenas are when the joy is spontaneous and the sporting feats set within a meaningful context.
I have written often in recent seasons about the joy of taking my kid to the footy in winter, and how cricket’s most abbreviated form can roughly simulate that experience. Actually, I was largely wrong.
Sport is narrative. Without a storyline, without tradition between the teams involved and a knowledge of players by fans, sport is meaningless intercourse. We might as well have watched blokes play touch footy in the park for all we cared about the result.
That was the killer. The moment we realised we didn’t care if our team won or lost.
We just wanted to see anyone smash sixes, regardless of whether they played for the Sucksers or the Hipsters or whatever the damn teams were called.
Then yesterday, the boy was watching Michael Clarke in the Test against Sri Lanka. He watched even though runs came at a trickle, because he grasped, even at age six, that those runs counted for something more than an excuse to jiggle your lederhosen and clap your clappy things.
Maybe the Big Bash will develop a tradition and in 20 or 50 years, it’ll have rivalries a la Carlton/Collingwood or Roosters/Rabbitohs. Probably it won’t.
In all likelihood, this thing will just rock on by for a month or so each summer, and people will come to see it without really caring too much what happens. If that is its destiny, it’s not necessarily a bad thing. But it’s not exactly satisfying either.
I’m away for 3 weeks now but will occasionally tweet cricket and stuff @antsharwood
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