For the uninitiated, and Americans, cricket is one of the great unexplained mysteries of our time.
But it is all so simple. Cricket is a game for two teams, which can last for several days. One side goes in to bat, and stays in, until it is all out. Then the other side goes in, until it, in turn, is also all out. This can happen twice for each in a game, although in some instances, a team that was in and has gone out can be made to go in again to follow on to see if it beat the runs made by the team that was in first before it was all out. As I say, quite simple really.
Quite often the joy of cricket is not so much in winning, but in not losing by drawing. Teams often play for a draw, if they know they cannot win. In some instances, they will even invoke the assistance of the deities for it to rain, because cricket cannot be played in the rain, and a timely downpour might be just the thing needed to stave off defeat. There was even the case of the famous Timeless Test played in Durban in 1938 between England and South Africa which was abandoned after eight days, without a result, only because the English team’s boat was about to sail.
Inevitably, the mysteries of cricket create their own allure, and a marvellous compendium of quirky facts, amazing exhibitions of skill and courage, and even political divisions and intrigue has been built over the years. New Zealand has been swept up in its own form of mania over the last week because of the stoic efforts of the Black Caps, and Brendan McCallum’s becoming the first New Zealander to pass 300 runs in a single test innings.
Now what has all this to do with politics, you might ask. Aside from David Cunliffe’s hurried motion in the House congratulating the New Zealand team and the Prime Minister’s cheery, tieless photo with the heroic McCallum, absolutely nothing. But after a week of Labour suffering more poll misery from the Fairfax Media-Ipsos poll results topped by the revelations that TVNZ was being used as a party cell; the absurdity of the Greens’ and New Zealand First’s selective memories over secret visits to the Dotcom mansion; and the legal trigger happy Colin Craig, New Zealanders were more than ready for the diversion.
While the cricket season may now be over, the need for diversions from the inanities of what has so far been a most extraordinary political year will continue for some time yet. It is just as well the Super Rugby season starts this weekend, and runs through to the middle of the year. And what is even better, most people, even Americans, understand the broad rules of rugby. It is just the referees they do not like. But that is a whole blogpost in itself, which can wait for another day.