UP ALL NIGHT TO CHEER A DRAW

~ Posted by Jasper Rees, March 26th 2013

According to most standards of logic, cricket doesn’t compute. Last night, at the other end of the world, a game reached its conclusion after five days. Result of match: a draw. Result of series: a draw. Amount of what a curious outsider would understand as actual action: visible only under a microscope. Levels of tension suffered by anyone listening to the BBC’s ball-by-ball coverage: the chart to measure it hasn’t yet been invented.

Normally England would give New Zealand a disdainful going-over. For some reason it hasn’t happened in this three-match series. Rain deprived New Zealand of victory in the first encounter, then did the same for England in the second. For the last in Auckland the home team were over the horizon by lunchtime on the fourth day. With zero chance of winning, all England could do was hope to bat for ten hours till the match’s official end and salvage a draw. That moment came at 5.15 this morning British time. All through the remorseless night, hearts jiggered against ribcages, nails were chomped and bags grew plump under sleepless eyes.

At 4am a Londoner emailed the BBC’s commentary box to say that his wife’s waters had broken. “Stay calm and we’ll get you there,” advised Jonathan Agnew, the avuncular commentator. An hour’s rousing crescendo later, as England nearly snatched defeat from the jaws of hard-earned parity, he confessed that his own waters had all but broken. Cricket. Only in cricket. Its closest relative is not in sport, but in court, where a case proceeds at its own unfretful pace until the gathering tension is pricked by a single second’s verdict.

Jasper Rees is the author of “I Found My Horn” and “Bred of Heaven”. His recent posts for the Editors’ Blog include The beach that beats Byron Bay and Why you should learn Welsh

Picture: Matt Prior hugs Stuart Broad after England salvage a draw in Auckland (Getty)