Staying Close

By John Behar

(Written in 2007 and celebrates the spirit in which KCC play, and still do)

Like almost all devotees of the game I’ve had many a conversation with a novice spectator in which the basic idea is set out, you know the spiel, “…eleven players a side, one side bats whilst the other fields, bowlers try to hit the stumps, batsmen try to hit the ball out of the ground, who will succeed first?” Then, when you explain the length of time it takes to play a game you can always hear an inward groan at the long windedness of it all. And indeed, when you don’t know what’s going on on the pitch any game is boring so cricket, given its stubborn indifference to the time-starvation which characterises modern life, is particularly boring under such circumstances. So, the next task of the devotee is usually to attempt to guide the newbie through the tangled thicket of rules and nuances to the magic garden of cricketing joy on the other side. Sometimes successfully and sometimes not, and, at some stage there must come an admission on your part that despite your devotion to the sport there is such a thing as a boring game of cricket.

Different things may make a game boring, from constant rain interruptions to overzealous umpiring, however one thing above all else will ensure a boring game and that is where one side dominates from the start and the other side never manages to come back. That’s when even seasoned cricket lovers retreat into their Sunday supplements and pint glasses and the physical benefits of the sunshine, if there is any, along with the restfulness of the scene are all that is left to be gained.

So, if dominance equals boring, then what is to be said of the opposite, close matches. Well every cricket lover knows this is what we wait for, this is what we endure the long slow afternoons for, those wild swinging games where one side seems on top then the other fights back, and in cricket so much can change in such a short time, as neither side quite manages to escape the grip of the other, inexorably the game draws to a nail-biting finish in which either side can win off the last over and as each ball goes by the tension rises further and further until grown men wring their sweat covered hands or bury their heads.

This is when the game really comes to life, when heroes are made and legends spring into the annals. But in these close games one thing is also true, no villains are made, doubtless the losers may feel the sting of losing but underlying that there is some sense of having contributed to a wonderful creation. And of course, in that most joyful rarity where both teams go all out for victory but neither side can press its advantage and the game is finally tied, well what can you say about that, no sting there, no sting at all.  It is in this spirit of “making a game” that Kensington plays week in and week out during the season and we do have a good proportion of wonderfully close games.  Long may this sporting spirit last.  Here’s to staying close.