Thursday, March 16, 2006

Waiting for cricket

In the good old days, a long, long time ago, it used to be customary to have nine-day gaps between test matches in England. Tests began on Thursday, took a rest day on Sunday, and then concluded on Tuesday. The next test would begin on the Thursday of the week after (hence the nine-day gap). I haven't gone and checked Cricinfo archives for this, but perhaps some English reader can tell me if this jogs their memories. Then this changed. Rest days went away, for which fact I'm truly thankful, as I always hated that benighted gap in the middle of an ongoing drama; there are good cricketing reasons as well for not breaking up a developing situation. Then cricketing calendars got busier, and while test cricket in England still retains a decent gap between test matches (this past Ashes featured gaps of 10, 2, 10, 10 days between tests thanks to tour matches inserted between games), calendars elsewhere seem to have shrunk. This years England-India series shows gaps of 3,4 days, and Australia's justly famous Boxing Day (MCG)-New Years (SCG) combo features a gap of 2 days. Some of this again, is not unwelcome. I don't like waiting too much for test cricket at the best of times. But it has its worrying aspects: injuries to players and a greater chance of burnout and staleness on part of players and fans alike. But perhaps the most insidious and perhaps the hardest to communicate (or get sympathy for): as one becomes an adult, time speeds up and I watch the days go at ever increasing rates (even tests go quicker - the two hours of a session go rapidly, as compared to the luxurious pace at which they seemed to move in my childhood). Test cricket could be a refuge from the speeded-up clock, but this diminishing gap, this time-table compression, means that even that refuge is now denied us.

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