A hypothetical: Let’s say you’re either unemployed or wealthy enough that you don’t have to work. And then, let’s say there’s a Test match between reasonably interesting teams (like India and Australia). Assume there are no competing demands on your time. Would you really sit through all 30 hours of cricket?
I’m thinking about this because Gavaskar and Bhogle were talking recently about how scintillating the Chennai Test was — more than 1,200 runs scored, some 30-odd wickets, and an innings (from Dhoni) that will likely go down in the history books. And yet, even during that supposedly amazing Test, there were long stretches of nothing happening. Take, for example, the very end, when Sachin Tendulkar hit two consecutive sixes and then decided to play a maiden over with only one run left to win. As I watched, I thought about the absurdity of the situation: India, with eight wickets and all of time available, keeping everyone waiting.
The cricket fan’s standard defense against the “nothing ever happens in Test cricket” critique is to say, “Well, are you really sure nothing’s happening?” On Day 2 of the the second Test, Pujara and Vijay batted an entire session and scored a handful of runs — something like less than two runs an over. To the untrained eye, this was cricket at its worst — two very capable batsmen tiring out mildly competent bowling. But a cricket fan would say the pair was in reality setting up the rest of the day, particularly the post-Tea session, when they plundered their way to five runs an over.
Perhaps, but confess, all ye fans: Did you watch the morning session through without getting bored? Or did you do as I do — put the cricket in the background, browse the Internet, and occasionally check in with the game?