I went to a watch a T20 game of cricket yesterday. Oddly, it said on the ticket that it was a 50-over ICC World Cup match, but clearly I hadn’t received the memo. The people heading for the stadium from work at 4pm, some ambling, some scurrying, hadn’t received the memo either. It was 97/3 as I walked across the concourse and 104/5 as I took my seat. The soporific stadium staff seemed to have been given no memo whatsoever. The leisurely pouring of warm beer and somnolent scooping of cold chips must have been a welcome sight for those in the 30-deep queues. Who needs to see three quick wickets anyway? You can just watch them on your phone 15 seconds after you hear the roar outside.
Speaking of 15-second delays and cellphones, at least the cops had read their memo. It was pleasing to see Wellington’s finest were firmly focused on spectator safety doing the ICC’s anti-corruption dirty work for them, keeping their eagle eyes out for suspicious types engaging in the cancer that is courtsiding. Unfortunately, since almost everybody was on their phones texting “HURRY UP, FFS!”, the few who might actually have been texting scores to an incredulous Indian bookmaker would surely have escaped unnoticed, if they had been able to keep up with the flurry of wickets.
Out on the field, Tim Southee hadn’t got the memo. The England coaching cabal had been talking up their stars, assuring a doubtful media that they had had some good net sessions and were ready to hit TheRightAreas. Tim just bowled straight at the stumps. And hit them three or four times – easy. Brendon McCullum definitely didn’t bother reading the memo that the Sky and Westpac Stadium chairmen were frantically mouthing at him from their corporate box. Four! Four hours of food and beverage sales gone. Six! Six hours of lucrative TV ad-breaks gone. Oh Brendon, you inconsiderate loon! Don’t you know cricket is a business, not a sport? Stop having so much fun.
At least both teams had read the latest ICC memo about upholding the spirit of cricket and encouraging audience participation. With a prize of $1m for catching the ball in the crowd one-handed, Macca obligingly pointed to various clusters of orange T-shirt-clad gentlemen before tonking the ball in their direction. The umpires were even kind enough to award him six runs each time. Brave England were no less determined to play their part. They generously allowed one lucky spectator the chance to bowl two overs at New Zealand. Who was the grateful chap plucked from the crowd? 25-year-old gap year student Steven Finn. Alas, he went for 49 runs from his two overs. However, smiling ruefully and gamely, he declared that he would “learn a lot from this experience”.
And then to cap off a surreal day/
night match, the ICC (Incompetent Corrupt Clique) showed that they were reading a very different memo from every rational observer, when they stuck resolutely to the letter of cricket’s regulations. How silly of us to presume that tea might be delayed a little to allow the inevitable conclusion! Bemused patrons streamed back through the turnstiles (past hapless latecomers coming the other way) to watch the last three overs in the pub. The post-match presentation was held sheepishly in front of a half-full crowd.
When the two captains were asked what they might take from the match, Brendon Modest shrugged modestly and said that he and the lads were just thinking about a few modest beers that evening. Captain Morgan, vainly hiding his misery, talked up his team’s chances. “We’re confident we can beat the Scots, at least” he said, fingering the rosary beads in his pocket obsessively. And you could hear the guffawing in Irish pubs from Donegal to Dun Laoghaire at the sad predicament of a man who turned his back on his native land for “the opportunity to play at the highest level”. Oh dear.