Mystic Test

Posted by sepoy on November 16, 2005 · 1 min read

Guardian's Richard Williams is in Multan covering the first Eng-Pak test. Multan is a city of saints and sun. It may make a mystic out of anyone but cricket and sufism proved a deadly combo for Williams. He wants to write about the use of instant replay in adjudicating a run-out [caught off-base]. But in his piece, Tradition is restored by Butt's reprieve, that simple thing becomes an article about Tradition and Modernity, about Faith and Technology, about Material Poverty and Spiritual Wealth, about Knowing and Unknowing. Per his conclusion, "Allah's will" dictated a sweeeeeeeeet victory for Pakistan.

What is it about Cricket [and baseball, for that matter] that it invites grown men to write silly? to become poets and bards? to find the mystic and the sublime in the crack of the ball and the flick of the wrist? I really would like to know. Now, I am not saying that the mystic is absent in cricket; not at all! I would just like to keep this an 'oral' tradition - with friends, over chai or beer, late night into the early morning. For when you write and publish it, you just come across as silly. And a bit of an orientalist [just imagine this article written about a test at Lord's].


rob | November 16, 2005

Too busy taking cricket bat to radio to read it. Hopefully next second innings someone'll hit a total bigger than Ashley Giles' age...

sharon | November 16, 2005

It's sports journalists. They have an inferiority complex because they know that they're only one up the media hierarchy from the ones who babble on about Oasis and Coldplay or whoever is the latest deadly dull overhyped rock music sensation. So sometimes they over-compensate. Besides, what he really wants to say is unprintable.

tsk | November 17, 2005

i've wondered that myself. not sure on the cricket half, but for baseball there was that godawful circle-jerk known as the 2004 Red Sox Postseason. dan shaughnessy has his own cottage industry of wanking about the red sox for tall dollars. there was him, stephen king, that 'fever pitch' adaptation with the snl dude, amongst other things. all waxing philosophical and sounding silly. that's why i'm so glad i'm a white sox fan. no curses from dead ballplayers (red sox), no pagan animal curses (cubs, re: billy goat and black cat). when asked why we lost so much, we answered 'bad players and bad management' without flinching. sharon -- that's just mean... nobody babbles about oasis. ;) though with the way the MSM has rolled over the past 5 years, it seems the only hard-hitting questions are being asked by sports journalists. coaches are at least required to have some kind of strategy.

prachi | November 17, 2005

have you read anything by E. Ram Mahesh in the Hindu? Talk about excess.

sepoy | November 17, 2005

"...the atmosphere grew rarefied as a few million breaths were collectively held". Oh dear.

eb | November 17, 2005

Have you seen these two articles by David Runciman on cricket and baseball writing? I'll admit that I still don't understand cricket, but both pieces were good reads.

K | December 21, 2005

You who are so quick to condemn the language of sports ought to remember the emotional context that drives its every technicality. What is sport but human? Surely bringing that context into life is the whole point? Media is participatory, which in sports means capturing the feel of a moment - the held breath before a feat that goes down in history. That feel is the reason you wax eloquent with friends over chai, and watch old match re-runs. The legends would die if not for the long, intense memories of sports writing. This is especially true with sports like cricket in the subcontinent or baseball in the states, where mass sentiment tends to live a life of its own. To ignore it is to be an insincere witness to the sport. The real existence of sports journalism has always been on its own terms. Perhaps, as news goes, it is that much apart from the media heirarchy as to not need vindication in mere reporting. And perhaps to some, the lyric of sports writing is its own end.