“There is something horribly seductive and even a little disorientating – a dab of raw jet-lag rubbed straight into the gums – about watching night-time southern hemisphere cricket. Propped up in your frozen armchair, lulled by the watery glow of the streetlights outside, it is easy to feel yourself being sucked in by that powerfully throbbing rectangle in the corner of the room, alive with the bleached-out greens and yellows of the southern summer, finding yourself some time in the wee hours reaching out a hand towards that pulsing blob of light and murmuring “It’s … beautiful”, transformed into an armchair cricket equivalent of the face-melting Nazis at the end of Raiders of the Lost Ark.”
Barney Ronay* sums it up in The “Oh My” Guardian. Those blasted New Zealanders and arrogant Australians, always playing at these damned inconvenient times; making my eyes bleed and giving me the sort of Monday morning hangover which one would normally associate with immoderate inebriation!
Now, imagine all that with nothing but radio to keep you company. Don’t get me wrong, the radio coverage and team on Test Match Special has long been one of the ‘plusses’ that cricket has to it’s appeal over other sports, and even the more recent addition of Test Match Sofa helps to mix up a day’s play, but it is an inexplicable hold that cricket has on me. It border on the downright bizarre…”Sorry babe, I’m not coming to bed this evening” sounds absurd even though it comes from my mouth.
Anyway; a spot of technical analysis on Night-time Antipodes Radio Cricket In Secure Sofa, Ignoring Sleep Mournings (N.A.R.C.I.S.S.I.S.M – tenuous):
I lie prone on the sofa, radio by my side, putting my laptop away about midnight. I usually ‘Test Match Sofa’ the first session when I’m more awake, then have the drone of Boycs and Aggers on TMS as a more constant background hum through the rest of the day (night). At lunch and tea I usually doze; in fact I’ve been known to doze through hours of Jonathan Trott’s batting too, as well as any period where nothing much is happening (the same thing?), and the odd period where it really ought to be more gripping to myself too. The difficult part is not the dozing, but the waking up from dozing. For this I tend to use an alarm on my phone, easily ignored until the third or fourth “5 Minute Snooze”.
I’d estimate that last night I was asleep for about 3 and a half hours between first ball and close. I certainly missed the last hour, I woke up about half six and had to ‘Red Button’ (RIP Ceefax) the score before crawling into my actual bed for another couple of hours. I also think I slept at tea for about two hours too. Basically the whole final session passed me by, in spite of the radio being on throughout and it being quite a crucial period. Lunch was slept through as per procedure, but a cup of tea saw me through the afternoon session.
It is a tough mission, (N.A.R.C.I.S.S.I.S.M.), undertaken only by the slightly deranged. However another night is through and today I have the weekend advantage of an inevitable post-6N rugby nap to make things easier. Hopefully that dullard Watling doesn’t get set, there’s only so often one can bear hearing how Monty has “pitched it on off stump on a length, there’s no turn and it has been blocked resolutely towards mid off”. And God Forbid a rain break…
How does everyone else follow the cricket at these ungodly, Australian-esque hours? It’d be interesting to see if I’m the only sad-case who is still relying on the radio!
*As an aside, I like the cut of Ronay’s gib. His writing is utterly wasted on football.