Religious intolerance, it’s the in thing. Despite the protestations that religion is not part of the equation, battle lines are being drawn the world over as Christianity and Muslimism prepare to slug it out in a televised fight for supremacy.
Meanwhile on a green pastured island, Catholic schoolgirls are heckled as they walk to school, alleged to be part of some dastardly papal plot.
Under such circumstances, it’s perhaps not surprising that many choose not to have a faith at all, surely that will insulate them against any abuse? Ha! Think again, it certainly hasn’t helped me, as time and again I have been contemptuously branded an atheist. Why?
Well you see, I don’t appreciate ‘God’s game’, I am in short, a cricketing infidel. Sorry, but it’s just not my game. Football, now there is a sport I can live and breathe on, I play, I watch, I talk about it interminably, but change the topic to cricket and it all goes quiet over here.
It’s not just watching cricket I dislike, but playing it too, I’ve never found it particularly enjoyable. I remember playing at school, it took me twenty minutes to get the sodding padding on, only to spend little more than a nanosecond at the crease. Out for a duck, not a Golden duck mind, but rather humiliating nonetheless as I hacked despairingly with the bat as the ball bounced beyond me, the sound of bails tumbling telling me my ordeal was over after just two balls.
My earliest experience at a cricket crease had nothing to do with playing the game though, and perhaps it explains my reticence to revisit one. On the school field near my childhood home, there was a concrete crease with an Astroturf carpet laid atop of it. Some older boys thought it a wheeze to knock me on the floor and then roll me up in the turf. Once fully rolled up, they decided to rain down kicks and elbow smashes as I lay mummified in a cricket pitch, (how surreal does that sound?). I didn’t really feel the impact of the blows, but each one knocked sand from the ersatz grass into my eyes, hair, ears, every fucking place short of my foreskin, I was saturated by the stuff. They then got bored and decided to leave me for a few hours, hoho, how fun that was.
That probably left a traumatic association with cricket, but that’s only a subconscious issue. My main dislike, and I know people will wince at this one, is the sheer boredom factor. The game takes so bloody long, and with so much time between plays worthy of merit. Now before you accuse me of having an attention span akin to that of a gadfly, that is not the case. I’m not like an American sports spectator who needs breaks in play every 20 seconds so I can refuel on ale and food of dubious calorific content in order to pay attention for 7 successive seconds.
I have no problem paying rapt attention to the 45 minute periods in football, but it’s impossible to pay complete attention to cricket, why would you want to watch intently as the bowler ambles off, staining his trousers in the groinal region as he goes, before turning, jogging to the crease and delivering a ball that will invariably bounce harmlessly beyond the batsman or will be bunted pathetically, but theatrically (as if real artistry is involved) a few feet in front of said batsman.
Then the whole process is repeated, again, and again, until something remotely interesting happens and people cry ‘how is that’ in an inaudible manner, waking the umpire who missed the whole thing because he was getting a sly 40 winks in. ZZZZZzzzzzz. Unless of course you’re watching on television and you have the same StepStone.com advert repeated between every over to spice up the monotony with a different kind of monotony. And the games take sooooooo bloody long. How can you play for 5 days, like in the recent Australia and New Zealand test, and have no conclusion? To me, that’s just not right.
The one-day game, now that has a limited appeal, there is a time limit, therefore a real sense of purpose. But even then, handlebar moustachioed purists brand that derivation of the ‘real game’ apocryphal. Ok, I can understand the dislike of the Day-Glo kits worn, and what are the team names all about? Phoenix? Yeah, I see lots of fiery birds ascending from ashes in Yorkshire. The one-day game I can just about tolerate, and apparently I’ll love it when I finally relent and attend a match.
But even the one-day game has the same drawbacks as it’s protracted progenitor. It’s such a fragile thing, hamstrung by the merest hint of inclement weather, “oh no, bad light”, “oh no, it’s raining”, “ah the weather is fine now, but let’s not play anyway as it’s time for tea”. Arrgghhh!
The terminology, that scares me. What is a googly? And how can a wicket be sticky? No, don’t explain it, I really don’t want to know.
My pals, ever trying to tempt me to a game, realise lauding the sport’s subtle nuances isn’t going to sway me, so they trumpet the opportunity of an all day drinking spree in accompaniment to a game, all well and good, but I’m perfectly capable of getting pissed at my local, staring at the walls from time to time for visual boredom.
There is one aspect of cricket that does appeal to me however, and that is the county association. Born in Hull, I’m forever being branded a Humbersider by out of town friends, something they know irritates the hell out of me. Having an active interest in cricket would allow me to play the Yorkshire card I suppose, but then considering their recent success in the County Championship, attaching myself to them now would surely see me branded a glory hunter.
No, it’s just not going to happen, it’s just not, well it is cricket I suppose, but it’s not my cup of tea. I accept this, if only my cricket aficionado associates would too. No matter how bright the light you shine in my face, I’m not going to see it. A cricketing atheist I’ll stay. Hallelujah.