Garth George: Test spectacle remains fine sight to behold

By Garth George

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The Daily Post Columnist Garth George. 30 October 2009 The Daily Post Picture by Andrew Warner. BOP 21Jan12 - BOP 28Jan12 - BOP 04Feb12 - BOP 11Feb12 - BOP 18Feb12 - BOP 25Feb12 - BOP 03Mar12 -
The Daily Post Columnist Garth George. 30 October 2009 The Daily Post Picture by Andrew Warner. BOP 21Jan12 - BOP 28Jan12 - BOP 04Feb12 - BOP 11Feb12 - BOP 18Feb12 - BOP 25Feb12 - BOP 03Mar12 -

My faith as a cricket fan has been restored. Well, perhaps not restored but certainly revived.

New Zealand's first innings against the West Indies in the test match at Dunedin on Tuesday and Wednesday this week was a delight to behold, ending at 609 for nine wickets declared, and ending a long spell of decidedly indifferent performances.

As was the subsequent dismissal of the West Indies on Thursday for a paltry 213 all out. While it never pays to predict the result of a cricket test before the last ball is bowled or wicket is taken, at the time of writing it seems New Zealand are set to win their first international for far too long.

I wish I had been there at Dunedin's University Oval, for there are few things more enjoyable and relaxing than watching test cricket - ball by ball, at the ground.

However, I'm comforted by the fact that I was there the last time New Zealand scored more than 600 runs in a test match innings - at Napier's McLean Park against India in '09.

And two of the players who scored centuries at Dunedin this week - Ross Taylor (217 not out) and Brendon McCullum (113) were also centurions in that game at Napier.
But there were three of them during that memorable couple of days.

The stylish Taylor hit 115 and the ebullient McCullum 163, but the star of the innings was the young Jesse Ryder, who tapped, stroked and whacked a nonchalant 201.

This young man has since battled, too often publicly, the demons of alcohol and gave up the game a year or so ago. But he is back playing for Otago and my prayer is that he will rejoin the national team ASAP.

One of the most comforting features of the Dunedin test was to watch Taylor and McCullum spend several hours together at the crease, racing one another to 100, and, I hope, healing the angst which has existed between them since Taylor was removed from the captaincy and McCullum took over.

Nothing else could have been as therapeutic for these two talented cricketers than that intimate joint effort, and I expect the entire New Zealand team will benefit from it. I look forward to the side once again becoming a cohesive unit and to the results of that in a sorely needed improvement in performance.

It seems a shame that so few people bother to attend cricket tests these days.

I suppose it is just another example of the decreasing attention span of the populace in general in these times of instant this and instant that.

That explains why Twenty20 cricket, which takes but three hours, has been such a success, surpassing even the 50-over, one-day game in popularity.

People these days don't seem to have time for the finer things of life - such as five-day test cricket - unless they can have them right now, or preferably 10 minutes ago.

I never go to wham, bam, thank-you fans Twenty20 or one-day games. They were invented for television and that's where they are best watched, free from the aggravation of loud music, boozed and bad-mannered patrons and crowded, noisy grounds.

It seems to me that New Zealand Cricket has become so enamoured of big-money sponsorship and television coverage that it has forgotten about attracting sports-lovers to the grounds for test matches, which have to be the finest sporting spectacle ever devised.

The English dramatist, the late Harold Pinter, once observed: "I tend to think that cricket is the greatest thing that God ever created on Earth - certainly greater than sex, although sex isn't too bad either."

Could be, I suppose, but I tend to think he had his priorities seriously back to front.

garth.george@hotmail.com

- ROTORUA DAILY POST

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