JRod posts on the gigantic outburst of whingeing that was a feature of the just concluded of summer of cricket Down Under
. I agree, something about the conversation surrounding this series struck me as odd. The full-blooded orgy of victim commentary from boards, team captains, irate Internet fans, the lot. I think part of it has to do with the media, and it really hit me when I attended the test matches in person. That’s when you become aware that the television version of the game is a full-blown dramatic production, which uses, as its raw material, the game out in the middle. Certain roles are made up, and players are slotted into them. There is the Villain, there is the Ageing Hero, there is the Young Brash Upstart. The music is cued, there are slow-motion replays (and now, we have super-slow-mo with orchestral and rock music – in fact, thanks to Channel 9, I discovered both The Bravery and The Killers this cricket season, thanks!). Small incidents happen out in the field, very small ones, a word or two, a look or two, the sort of thing which all of us go through all the time, deal with, and carry on (do you have any idea how many times I curse audibly as I negotiate motorists who don’t let me cross the street in peace?). But, but. There are cameras, there are commentators, there are writers, there are late-night shows, there are retired cricketers/pontificators. And they kick in, and a mood is generated. Nothing is more indicative of the ludicrous hype than the way in which sledges are caught and shown again and again: “Oh, wait, look, I think there were some words between those two. Wait a second, lets take a closer look. Aha, there it is, look, its quite clear he’s just called his mother an overweight Chinese panda. And wait, look, theres more, he doesn’t look too happy”. And it continues and goes on and on. The production of the game takes on a life of its own, and no matter how hard one tries to get the genie back in the bottle, its out and is being fed, clothed, made to walk, and taught five different languages. No one really has the time to think straight about all of this, and certainly not express ourselves coherently online or on the air, and so we get ludicrous analysis tinged with xenophobia, racism, chauvinism and plain ignorance on all fronts. Comes with the territory when you are talking about international sports I guess, but this summer really showed up just what a crock it all was. Once in a while, when I was at the MCG and the SCG and I’d cast a look out over at the game being played in the middle, it’d hit me, despite all the hype, the history, the literature, the television rights, it’s a game being played by a bunch of guys younger than me. And they’re all pretty damn good at it, which is why they’re in the middle, and I’m 80 yards away, guzzling beer and slopping sunscreen.