County Cricket Meditation

Five hours out from first ball of the 2024 County Championship, nerveless yet anticipatory, more a state of mind than anything fanatical. My Philly teams make my stomach churn and I still follow them as obsessively as ever. But that is “jump of the bridge” fandom. This evening (Japan Standard Time), as Yorkshire CCC takes on Leicestershire CCC from Headingley, I enter a warm cocoon of sports nerdom completely different. And although I ostensibly have adopted Yorkshire as my county of support, their performance on the ground will never make we wince, cry, or yelp with a Tourette syndrome-esque spasm of disgust should things not go well in the match.

It’s a vibe thing. It’s the background noise of my evenings until October. Free streams on YouTube of a days play become the perfect ASMR as I read Ben Bloom’s Batting for Time: The Fight to Keep English Cricket Alive. It seems cricket is at a crossroads, so I hope I am not too late to the party.

Photo by JohnSeb, Creative Commons

Here in Sapporo it’s often a party of one. A student of mine laughed out loud when I told him that I read two cricket magazines a month (Wisden Cricket Monthly, The Cricketer). Like a sneering, mocking laugh. This from a 45 year old man. I was put off and felt the need to defend the sport. But language barriers got the better of me and I let it rest. Needless to say the sport is given relatively little recognition here. Maybe that’s what draws me to it. Up here in Hokkaido there’s still snow on the ground and local news is more concerned with the cherry blossom viewing forecast. Discussions about the four rounds of Kookaburra ball or if Lancashire will play two spinners in early April rarely make the list of approved discussion topics at the company’s weekly required after-work izakaya extravaganza. Their loss…

My cricket podcasts are queued-up as I prepare for the lead-in. Dog on the lap. Spring is slowly beginning to make my balcony bearable for a late afternoon pint of Yebisu Premium Black. Now, if only I could control the English weather.

What do you think?