Each and every weekend, between the hours of 1pm and 6pm, men and women around Australia take part in the ritual of humiliation known as “cricket”.
Suburban cricket is more than a game: it’s the great equaliser. CEOs, QCs, and ministers join bricklayers, shelve-stackers and burger flippers to dirty their whites and get sun-burned together.
Moments of triumph are interspersed with moments of complete fuck-uppery. Like that time you took a great catch at short point, one-handed, majestically hanging in their air like a chip packet in the breeze, and you felt like Punter for the rest of the day…
…until you pulled a hammy and farted as you knocked the ball over the boundary whilst trying to prevent a four.
Cricket is: glorious, shimmering moments of beauty – offset by regular complete and utter mental and physical failure. And it delights in reminding you…
Reminder: “You’re not that good.”
Cricket is a game that likes to take you down a few pegs regularly, to remind you you’re not as shit-hot as you think you are. Maybe that’s why I never got anywhere with cricket; every time something goes right for me on the field, I dread what the game will do to me to make up for it. It’s some sort of fucked-up feng shui with bails.
I play cricket because it’s fun. Because I love it, and I love the guys that I play with, and I love the club that I play at. But what I don’t like about cricket is the week in-between matches.
It’s fine if we’ve won.
If we’ve won, I craggily wait for people to ask, “how’d you go on the weekend?”, so that I can reply with a well-rehearsed, “aww, y’know, we got it done,” and play it down like it’s nothing, but really I’m dying to tell you all about Cal’s in-swinging yorkers, or Sevs’ juggling catch, or Chris’ chrisp fifty in a winning cause.
But if we’ve lost, I’m struck down by the cruelest beast of all: cricket regret.
Being diagnosed with “Cricket Regret”
As far as I know, cricket regret is yet to be diagnosed by any doctor. But it’s a crippling illness prone to kick in at any time. Often, I’ll be entirely focused on something else – work, social life, grocery shopping – only to be kicked in the balls by sudden lamentations like, “if only we didn’t bowl so many wides.”
“If only we held our catches.”
“If only more than two of us remembered to bring afternoon tea.”
It’s humiliating. It’s debilitating. It’s all I can think about for the entire working week.
Cricket is only a game, but it can ruin your productivity.
Clients don’t understand; how can I deal with their shit when I’ve been hit for two consecutive boundaries in the forty-third over of a two-day game of cricket? I dropped a catch at mid-on on Saturday – am I worthless? Is life futile? Does anything matter?
This problem is exacerbated by the invention of MyCricket, a results-listing website that is easily accessible, chock-full of information, and is helpfully on-hand to remind you of the worst days of your life. Such as when we bowled 72 extras against Box Hill North. Or when Heatherdale hit us for 412 in a day. Or that you hit less runs in 2015 than Australia had Prime Ministers.
Or, at the very least – at the very worst – at the end of the day – it can’t get any worse.
Cricket. It’s the best sport in the world. And it’s ruining my life.