The beauty of cricket

The beauty of cricket, and the reason it can (sometimes) hold your attention for the whole five days of a test match, is that it’s well balanced. In almost any situation, the fall of a couple of quick wickets would significantly change the balance of the match. So even when there’s nothing very exciting happening (and that’s quite a lot of the time) there’s always the possibility that it’s about to.

photo © badgerswan

That’s probably why it’s always been so popular on the radio – because a large part of the pleasure is in the shifting of the balance between the two teams, and the mood that builds up over passages of play. Of course when something exciting does happen it would be nice to be able to see it, but it certainly works much better than most sports. It helps that they have so much time to talk between balls and between overs.

It’s probably true of all sports, of course, that to be successful they need to establish some kind of pseudo-narrative structure. Tennis, for example, would be a much less enjoyable spectator sport if the scoring system was different. You could argue it would be a fairer reflection of the balance of play if, instead of playing games and sets, they just counted up total points scored and the winner was the first to 75. But the gradual establishment of a lead by one player would have less drama than the current system, with its building up of tension towards the set points.