the purist’s guide to T20 cricket

You’re right. No such thing exists. The purist doesn’t need a guide for watching T20 – they know already it’s not watchable. So. Was this a ploy to catch the unwary purist, and annoy him or her into reading this for the sole purpose of lucking into having them shout me down in as short a time as is freaking possible? 

You bet it is 😉

Because in fact, we are on the same side of this horrible divide, and I am simply craving to share my agony with as many cricket purists as will help me get through this nightmare. Have my back, fellow purists!

I don’t even have to guess: as a purist, a lover of cricket, you follow test match cricket.

And it’s not just the game, is it?  For you, for me, the GABBA, the WACA, the MCG, the SCG, the Adelaide Oval – these vast green grounds, whether under equally vast blue skies, or under the super-sopper, were the backdrop to the Australian summer. Benson and Hedges gave us the soundtrack to summer, and Richie Benaud was the lyrics and the poetry, only ever interrupted by Mr Clipped Vowels and the Nasal Pigeon. This is how we grew up in summer, in the hot loungerooms across Australia, dripping from the swim in the pool at drinks, laying out our towels on Aunty Libby’s carpet, sucking on a Sunny Boy or a Razz, this is where debates were staged, heroes were worshipped, the talent of the villains grudgingly conceded….test cricket was part of life.

But of course it’s the game, too. I started my test cricket career at the age of 8. Not bad for a girl. Even then, although the level of appreciation may not have been quite the same as it is now, you knew there was something special about Greg Chappell, and the way he played his shots. David Gower. Viv Richards. Clive Lloyd. You knew because even under the age of 10, you could see they batted a little differently to say, er, Dennis Lillee, Joel Garner. Michael Whitney. As you got older, and helpless to the osmosis-like impact of all the merit-based comparison discussion constantly in progress around you, you began to understand what a perfectly-hit cut shot looks like, the elegance of Steve Waugh’s cover-drive, what a text-book shot is, and who was good at them. And that sixes are not often hit beautifully.

Let’s skip forward some years – past 50-over cricket (a scandal of its time) – to the age of The Device, the immediate availability of anything and everything we want, The Short Attention Span: and I give you T20 cricket. The textbook on the reckless fire! Batsmen turned cowboy! Bowling figures torn apart!.

“It’s bringing people back to cricket”, they say. “It’s good for the kids”, they say. “Look at all the sixes”, they say.

With dignity, maturity, and utter sophistication, I blow one, long raspberry at these people.

I am only just getting over the 2016 BBL series. Why did you watch it? I hear you say. Sadly, it had to be on at least one of the tvs in our house for the duration of the BBL season. My partner is working for a start-up company which sources game stats, and the “BBL” was the big flavour of the summer. (Why couldn’t you do the A-League, is what I did ask, but my partner happens to be the only sports-lover in the team. Sigh.) Due to an issue in the stats processed, he has to watch Every. Single. “Game”. I read four books in the last three weeks of the BBL, and started Ulysses, too, which is hard going, but not harder than watching BBL. With BBL the only “sporting” alternative on the box, I’m finding Ulysses to be a walk in the park.

We could still learn a lot from test cricket. Patience. Waiting for want we want. Working hard for a good outcome. Endurance. Tenacity. Respect of an equally-talented opponent. Being able to think ahead, and think all the way through to the end. Test cricket is a way of life.


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