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.

Purple man wins an argument with pink man about whose uniform most resembles a jacaranda flower

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

Comments on this post close at 6 pm AEDST

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40 comments

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    • Derrick says:

      06:07am | 28/12/12

      Some wont be happy until Ponting is seen as the final frontiersman of mens sport ! At least they can identify the up and comers now

    • Elphaba says:

      06:28am | 28/12/12

      If Twenty20 is like meaningless sex, then soccer (when there is a 0-0 final score) is like sex without orgasm.

      Since that happens way too often (in soccer), I’d take the meaningless sex. At least we know everyone had a good time. smile

    • Givemefootball says:

      06:29am | 28/12/12

      Yup, another ‘sport’ to add to the list of most boring and pointless; they are, AFL, Surfing, Basketball, Bowls, Baseball, (Hollywood actually makes that look exciting) Triathlon, Walking, (that stuff in the olympics) Tennis, Golf, Grid Iron, and all those extreme sports like skateboarding and BMX.

      Does it never end?

    • Carolyn says:

      07:47am | 28/12/12

      You forgot one - Rugby League. A more meaningless and pointless ‘sport’ I’ve never seen!

    • Trevor says:

      11:22am | 28/12/12

      How is surfing boring? Maybe to watch if you’ve never done it before. But to engage in the sport is one of the best things you can do in your life.

    • Go stars says:

      06:33am | 28/12/12

      I like the BBL. I’ve never been to a game but I reckon I’ve watched nearly every one on TV. I reckon it’s a great way to spend a summer’s night after work, a few beers and a quick game of cricket which quite often has a relatively exciting finish. And let’s face it there’s absolutely nothing else to watch on TV at this time of year.

      As a spectacle and for entertainment value on TV I reckon it’s great with the mic-ed up players, the dancing girls and the music.

      Sure the purists don’t like it, and tactically it’s got nothing on a test match, but at the end of the day any cricket is better than no cricket and to be able squeeze a quick game in after work 5 nights a week during the summer non ratings period when there’s nothing else to watch, you really can’t go wrong.

    • ramases says:

      06:39am | 28/12/12

      T20,what can one say, lets see, another idea to dumb down a good game to appeal to the uneducated masses and generate money for the sponsors. Its like much these days where unless it is in bite sized lumps the attention span of the average person will fade before it is over. I am actually surprised that some people can watch 20 overs without drifting off to something more intelligent like Face Book or twitter which is instant gratification like no other.(sarc).
        I suppose the next big thing will be the classics like Shakespeare reduced to a series of unintelligible gibberish letters that will be able to be transmitted in a trice to the plebs so they can say that they have been educated. Or perhaps the football condensed to just the highlights and shown as a break between the adds or even the Sydney to Hobart Race shortened to just the start, first over the line wins,just think of all the wasted time and money we could save and how many more sporting events, once condensed we could fit in a day.

    • Cry in my Gin says:

      08:57am | 28/12/12

      We will just bring Hobart closer to Sydney. A nice vacant block lies just south of Cronulla ready to be filled. It even has a harbour inlet thingy.

    • acotrel says:

      06:40am | 28/12/12

      Motorcycle road racing is better than sex. As a spectator sport the Easter meetings at Bathurst a while back, beat any prissy cricket game hands down. The media hardly even acknowledge when we have guys like Cavanaugh, Hinton,  Ahern, Findlay, Phillis, McGee, Beattie, Doohan, Gardner and Stoner at the very pinnacle of the most demanding international sport on the planet. Cricket is mildly interesting technical bullshit in comparison.  Nothing is ever a chieved by it.  At least with motorcycle sport there is a technical progression which can translate to viable industries making superb products.

    • marley says:

      08:08am | 28/12/12

      “At least with motorcycle sport there is a technical progression which can translate to viable industries making superb products.”

      You could say the same about target shooting.

    • Gregg says:

      08:38am | 28/12/12

      Is that you keep going around and around the same track like a stuck gramohone needle you like seeing blokes on two wheels also going around and around.

      Now, how about making it a bit interesting and having some girls go around and around too and maybe even mixed sex tag team racing and that might be something eh!

    • Eck lives here says:

      09:42am | 28/12/12

      acotrel
      Seems as if you have two old codgers desperately hanging on your every word following you from post to post trying their hardest to be clever.
      I’d call them a couple clueless trolls, but that would be generous.

    • VJR says:

      06:50am | 28/12/12

      yes it’s just a dumb game to make quick money from a gullible crowd who think they are watching base ball

    • Gerard says:

      10:17am | 28/12/12

      Actually, the problem is that the crowd ARE watching baseball, but they think they’re watching cricket.

    • Lucky says:

      06:53am | 28/12/12

      Echo these sentiments 100%

    • Gregg says:

      07:02am | 28/12/12

      Just so you know Ant you do not need to feel too miserable because the pinkie lost and the guy in purple is more the Jaccaranda or you could say the feasting Jackal in that case.
      Pies and Chips on a summer night!
      You should have shown the kids some sights and saved it for a delight at Harry de Wheels.

      All is not lost however, for you know that Sydney to Hobart thing, well guess what?, Yes, a boat from Sydney has already crossed the line first and in record time!

      Have a good three weeks and no meaningless sex.

    • stephen says:

      09:40am | 28/12/12

      Harry de Wheels is shit pies, and if you can get there then you’ve already had yer meaningless sex in Victoria street, afterwards playing with the lassies birdcage whilst she gets you a good one - pie, that is.

      Twenty/20 - hit the ball and run, don’t fall - is a silly mess of a game and the only advantage to it is that I know the bozos are all together in one place watching it and I’m not likely to see and greet any on the bike path on the way home ... which is where I’d like soccer fans to go when their toes curl up from boredom, just before they set fire to something.

    • Andrew says:

      07:30am | 28/12/12

      You are right about T20. I just can’t get into it, fair enogh if you have someone like Warner pulling off switch hit sixes. That is impressive, but if he does it another 5 times you startr to get a bit “meh”.

      T20 to me is like this, bowler runs up and bowls either short length, good length or yorker length, the batsmen will usually perform some type of ugly swipe and depending on where ever the ball came out they will run 1 or 2 or perhaps not because it was a wicket, four or six then repeat for another 119 balls.

      Seeing sixes ar eexciting, but that is because they are rare, as usual when something becomes normal it becomes a bit dull and that is T20’s problem.

      I still prefer tests as it has more of an eb and flow, momentum changes and then changes back and when a 6 is hit in a test it is exciting because it is rare and is usually as a result of either the batting side dominating or because they eneded to do something to get the pressure off them. there is far more drama in a test, T20 is just a sitcom with a laughing track telling you when to be impressed.

    • sunny says:

      07:30am | 28/12/12

      It could also be argued that the degree by which we thrash the Sri Lankans in this test series is fairly well meaningless in the context of a complete top order collapse in a critical match against the world no. 1 Saffas only a few weeks ago.

      “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.”

      haha too true - the next team admitted to the Twenty20 comp will probably call themselves ‘The Winners’.

    • Tubesteak says:

      07:31am | 28/12/12

      At least meaningless sex is fun. All sex is fun.

      But I just can’t get into Twenty20 for precisely the reasons you describe. I don’t know the teams and they seem to change every year. Sometimes the players are interesting like Gayle or the really fat bloke that I think I saw playing for some Adelaide team the other night. That was hilarious watching some guy bigger than Boonie and Merv waddle around the crease.

      Other than the ability to produce the occasional haymaker that connects with the ball there’s very little skill or strategy involved. Unlike test cricket where every ball is crucial and requires many factors to be considered Twenty20 is just hit and run.

    • Tim says:

      07:48am | 28/12/12

      20 20 is crap.

      A great contest between teams is rare.

      Usually either the team batting first gets a big score and the second team gets out cheaply trying to smash the runs or the first team get out cheaply and the second team cruise to victory.

      Ways to fix it? How about two innings of 10-15 overs each? Or allow an extra batsman as a designated hitter like in baseball.

    • Martin Says says:

      08:12am | 28/12/12

      I have had a lot of meaningless sex in my life but 20/20 cricket is like toilet cubicle sex, exciting while it happening, but makes you ask, why did I do it ! Personally I am not a fan of 20/20, I am totally overloaded with cricket to tell the truth.

    • Geronimo says:

      08:45am | 28/12/12

      Watching Pommie Baseball in Technicolour is like a Great Big Pain in the Ass, to the easily amused it is inevitable, but to continue suffering the inevitable is optional.

    • Carz says:

      09:02am | 28/12/12

      I can remember similar types of howls coming from the purists when One Day Cricket was introduced. My grandfather, and probably many others, called it hit-and-giggle cricket and swore it would a) ruin the game of cricket and/or b) never last. Maybe its best to think of the cricket (whichever form) as a television show. If you don’t like it don’t watch it, but please stop whining.

    • Richard says:

      09:02am | 28/12/12

      Nice article Ant, but I reckon you feel that way just because your team is so crap, full of nobodies and a couple of has-beens. If Davey Warner had played in that one it might’ve been different, but as it stands, with the Sixers in second last place on the table (with the other Sydney team behind them in dead last place), its no wonder watching their games feels somehow “unfulfilling” for one of their fans…

    • Robert S McCormick says:

      09:14am | 28/12/12

      If 20/20 Cricket is like meaningless sex then Test cricket is like a very slow, excruciatingly painful death from Boredom’s Disease and you don’t even to get to have sex at all be it meaningless, orgasm-less or any other sort.
      It is no wonder the stands are almost empty & that Cricket Australia does it’s damndest to ensure TV cameras don’t pan over them & that canned spectator reaction is always up & running.

    • Dave says:

      03:02pm | 28/12/12

      apart from the fact that almost 110,000 people attended the boxing day test in the first two days, your statement is 100% accurate.. curse you in your cleverness Cricket Australia

    • chuck says:

      10:21am | 28/12/12

      Reeling in the suckers to watch it or pay for it on F’tel, selling the ever-changing merchandise and making the participants look like they are real people is the real sport!

    • TChong says:

      10:24am | 28/12/12

      I consider meself like the great JWH, “a cricket tragic”, but even I have to concede 20/20 has overly diluted the game.
      Parochialism seems to be a big part of cricket ,( and any other sucessful sport),  as we saw with the emphasis on Mojos famous jingle in Howzat .
      National teams ,  state based , even   regional city v country matches will draw crowds.
      The current plethora of franchise teams just dont seem to have what it takes to inspire the loyalty ( and parochialism ) that is so much a part of cricket.

    • Gerard says:

      10:26am | 28/12/12

      “the bargain family ticket price of $42.50”

      How is that a bargain? You could go down to a net session for the local cricket club and see pretty much the same thing (flat pitches, batsmen trying to slog everything, no meaningful result) for free. Plus the local park probably doesn’t have advertising plastered over every available surface.

    • iansand says:

      10:41am | 28/12/12

      Will the Sri Lankans make it to 20 overs?

    • stephen says:

      11:10am | 28/12/12

      Four for twenty one in the Test, and the Sri Lankan batsmen are looking a bit wobbly - tummies and all.

    • JamesH says:

      11:50am | 28/12/12

      20/20 is the future of cricket. People don’t have a week to watch men dressed as chefs stand out in a field all week, so shortened forms of the game will prevail long term.

    • Don says:

      11:58am | 28/12/12

      I am one of those old codgers who will never get into this new fangled 20/20 cricket. You are right, at this moment there is no tradition, no measuring of the new players against the old. That will change, maybe but I can’t be bothered watching it. So hit and giggle and ......whatever.

    • Rickster says:

      01:02pm | 28/12/12

      Meaningless sex? No such thing. Most sport however is just grown men playing with their balls.

    • Ringo says:

      02:52pm | 28/12/12

      The sex might be meaningless, but at least you get a result and can get on with meaningful activities. With test cricket, you can toil away for days and still end up with nothing to show for your exertions. How is that meaningful? In any event, so what if the sex is meaningless? It’s still fun. Not everything in life has to be meaningful to be worthwhile.

    • Christine says:

      03:44pm | 28/12/12

      Cricket is a boring game vs other batting games.

    • Doubtful John says:

      04:04pm | 28/12/12

      With casual sex, it’s slap and tickle, with 20/20 cricket, it’s all hit and giggle.  Thing is, just like sex, it is always fun when both teams are doing their best!

    • Phil says:

      04:14pm | 28/12/12

      Yes, twenty20 is pretty meaningless, but once in a while someone does something so spectacular that I find myself fantasizing about it to keep myself awake during meaningful Test matches for years into the future.  So, no link to sex at all there (just in case my wife is reading…)

    • Steve says:

      04:22pm | 28/12/12

      All sport is meaningless. A game that you can play for 4/5 days (Test Cricket) and not get a result is just stupid. After all that wasted time and energy, all the money that went into paying groundstaff, running a stadium, paying players not to mention multi million dollar sponsorships and what do we get? A draw after the losing team decides it’s better to block all day than risk a result. Dull, dull dull.

 

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