A tale of two cricket writers

Consider, if you will, the following two journalistic extracts on yesterday’s cricket test match between England and South Africa.

England’s Graham Onions brings tears to South African eyes
Another day, another arse-nipper. Test cricket, which many believe to be fighting for survival, is pulling out all the stops. This was exceptional, a match that, as at Centurion a few weeks back, went to the last available ball.

As in that first Test of this remarkable series, it was the unlikely and certainly unheralded batting of Graham Onions that secured England the draw. They will now go to Johannesburg and The Wanderers next week for the final Test leading a series that they cannot lose and may well win.

Onions makes Proteas cry again
NEWLANDS, the grand old lady of South African cricket grounds, has seen many great test matches over the years, but none more thrilling that the third Test which ended yesterday.

Heading into the final session, just like they had at Centurion in the first Test, England appeared to have done enough ground work to secure a credible draw after being set a world-record target of 466.

It’s a bit disheartening for me to see the comparison between the two openings. The first is from the Guardian’s Mike Selvey and the second is by the Cape Times’s Zaahier Adams. The first captures some of the excitement of the match and the anxiety felt by both teams of supporters. “Arse-nipper” is an unusual description but it works here.

The second story, by comparison, is plodding. What does it serve to call Newlands a “grand old lady”? What is a grand old lady anyway? And what does she have to do with cricket? Maybe the Mount Nelson hotel with its pink walls and stately setting could be called that but as an opener to a report on a thrilling test match it falls very flat.

I could go on but there’s absolutely no excitement in the words “enough groundwork to secure a credible draw”. Credible draw? Credible in whose eyes? Who cares whether it’s credible or incredible? The fact was that it was exciting and heroic and showed how passionately England take this “funny game” that their supporters take huge delight in hours of dot-balls. “Dot ball to the England” sang the Barmy Army in that final over while the rest of us sat on the edge of our seats and clenched our sweaty paws and desperately willed South Africa to an improbable (and ultimately unattainable) victory.

I’ll admit it. I’m a Grinch. But please, if South Africa can’t win a test match this summer, can we at least have some excellent reporting at their attempts to do so?

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12 Responses to A tale of two cricket writers

  1. Sarah says:

    Commiserations Pete! I agree with the first (and better) writer that test cricket is pulling out all the stops- in addition to the excitement and anixety of the Engalnd-Outh AFrica test, we managed to snatch a win on the last day of the test against Pakistan.

  2. I agree, the second story is all *yawn*. Although the first is not without its cliches (“pulling out the stops”), at least it tells an interesting story.

  3. Now, Cape Times did use the word “thrilling.” That puts a little excitement into it, doesn’t it?

    Seriously, though, yes. I see your point. Makes it sound like a match of dotty old ladies fanning themselves.

  4. I don’t think anyone not raised on cricket from infancy can understand it at all. 😉

  5. Pete says:

    Sarah – Yes, very exciting that Australia managed to snatch a victory on the final day. I feel for Pakistan though but it was a great victory for your guys.

    Charlotte – I read both openers again today and I can’t see why I was getting so worked up about the second one. Perhaps it’s something to do with shooting the messenger! All that emotion after five days of test cricket has to go somewhere.

    PhD in Yogurty – LOL. Now five days of that might be something to see! More of a novel than test cricket though. I can see therapy with you would be fun.

    Lilian – Yes, I think you’re right. And I just remembered that I fell asleep in the one ice-hockey game I went to see (at the old Maple Leaf Gardens)! Exciting I’m sure but I didn’t really get what was happening.

  6. litlove says:

    Lol! You’re right, the first is more fun. And yet part of me feels uneasily that the same journalistic style brings us sensationalised scares of financial, medical and political nature and exhorts us to care about C list celebrities. Oh but, I see my own error here – the point is those journalists should all be expending their talents on sport, where there IS room for a bit of play and fun, rather than serious reporting, where some restraint in metaphor ought to be exercised…

    (Actually you catch me on an anti-media day, which probably explains it all! 😉 )

  7. Pete says:

    Litlove – LOl – yes, I think you do have a point about sensationalism. But at least sports reporters can’t be blamed for being sensationalistic! There’s also the cultural aspect which is interesting but perhaps we won’t get into gendered subjectivities today 😉

  8. Just a Gal says:

    Hi there
    Im an X SouthAfrican from JHB
    now living in Israel
    Happend by your blog and had a bit of traveling down memory lane

    JG

  9. Grad says:

    Is cricket like baseball?

  10. doctordi says:

    Don’t worry, Pete, at least they’re not Australian commentators. And I say this as an Australian. But they are truly the most hyperbolic, delusional and platitudinal of them all. Also ATROCIOUS losers. Kiwi commentators for the rugby win every time for me, and it’s the same with the English and cricket: they just love the game.

  11. Rich Abbott says:

    Agree. Well, you’ve got your win now, and I hope for your sake that it was well reported in the morning papers!

    • Pete says:

      Hi Rich, your comment went to spam for some reason so have just retrieved it. Cricket reporting not that good here but I’m sure they delighted in the win. I know I did.

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