Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Poetry Part Two

Trying to get the creative juices flowing during this cold start to winter, so I thought I'd try my hand at some more poetry.

Adulthood Angst
Money to be saved
Bills to be paid
Children to be raised
And weekends to be praised
All things that are meant to be a phase.
Instead you’re left in a daze
As you change from a care-free teen
To just another adult trapped in the maze

Winter Ways
Alarm booms blare into half-asleep ears
Eyes crack open unwillingly as dreams and reality briefly intermingle
The cold air wraps around bare ears, while legs lie smugly under blankets
A reluctant acceptance is made and feet thud begrudgingly against a frozen floor
Cold clothes are dragged on and bags grabbed to head out into the wide world
Where the fog in your mind is matched by the fog on the ground

Running Ruminations
Puffed cheeks push out hot air into the crisp night
Knees creak against the patter of shoe on concrete until the soft, squelchy relief of grass
Warm, golden light flows out of homely houses
Harrowing hills test the runner’s resolve to remain rapid
Pace picks up until the final leaf is crunched and the runner’s body reaches rest

Thursday, March 26, 2015

The 2015 Cricket World Cup Has Been The Best Ever (Even If New Zealand Doesn't Win The Final)

The 2015 Cricket World Cup comes to a close on Sunday night, when the beautiful Black Caps take on those awful Aussies. I've loved this Cricket World Cup since it started, however before it did, I was a little apprehensive. I failed to grasp how momentous it was to have such an event in my country. One that I had watched on television since before I could remember. Luckily, my friends organised a group to go to the New Zealand Australia game and my lovely Mother purchased me a Semi-Final ticket for Christmas. Those games are two of the greatest sporting memories that I have. Both games that caused elation, nerves and me straining my vocal chords. The last time I hurt my voice because of New Zealand Cricket would be swearing at the demise in another test. I would consider myself to be a quiet sports watcher, but those two games saw me yelling, jumping and fist pumping. When Kane Williamson deposited Pat Cummins for six, I lost my mind and jumped and yelled with everyone else in the stadium and it was beautiful. Even crazier was when Trent Boult bowled Hashim Amla. I found myself on my feet, fists clenched and pumping with a howl climbing out of my throat like I have never heard before. It was two-fold when Grant Elliott hit that winning six. There I was hugging and hi-fiving strangers as the Black Caps overcame their Semi-Final hoodoo and reached their first final.

Grown men hugging. Everywhere.

I was not alone in this jubilation. With the Black Caps winning every game and reaching the final, it's no wonder that everyone has hopped on the bandwagon in hopes of victory. Does this make me bitter? Kind of. I've followed the rollercoaster of New Zealand Cricket since I was a small child. I would say that I have seen more losses than victories and now all of a sudden we win eight games and everyone's a fan? Part of me wants to say no. That you have to earn your stripes watching us get bowled out for under 100 in a test match against South Africa in the middle of the night to enjoy these giddy highs. Then the more logical side of me says that this is amazing. The whole country is talking about the game you love. Kids want to grow up to be the next Brendon McCullum or Trent Boult. Heck, maybe I'll even be able to convince some people to watch a test and sell it on the grounds of it being like five times as good (or just five times as long) as an ODI. However, I urge everyone who has taken a sudden interest in the Black Caps to not allow it to be fleeting. Your support for them should not end on Monday morning because they do this kind of thing all the time and they deserve to be followed and supported, even when they aren't winning.

After Sunday too, Okay? Sweet. Deal.

Do I think the Black Caps will win the final?

No is the short answer, but god, I hope they do. Unfortunately, I've seen too much. The Black Caps have been in two limited overs finals before. Both in the Champions Trophy, which is like the Commonwealth Games of cricket. In 2000, we won when my then hero, Chris Cairns scored an inspired century as we overcame India. In 2009, we made the final again against Australia and batting first we only scored 200, which Australia chased down, winning by six wickets. Now, this isn't that surprising. Australia have often been the final frontier for the Black Caps, especially so in Australia. In 56 games in Australia, New Zealand has only won 18. Take that to the MCG where the final is, New Zealand has only won 4 out of 14. Although, in saying that, we won our most recent ODI against Australia there, all the way back in 2009 when a certain Grant Elliott scored 61. Yet, with a winning percentage of 31% in ODIs in Australia, I'm not that confident. But, as Brendon McCullum says, I should really dare to dream. These aren't the Black Caps that I grew up watching, demonstrated by what will be the team for the final.

You're a dick, Watto.

 Despite our storied past, Brendon McCullum is downright destructive with the bat and is the ballsiest and most of aggressive captain going in world cricket.

Anyone who does this to a projectile being fired at them at 150km/ph has balls.

Martin Guptill does more with two toes on one foot than the rest of us do with five, whether it be insane catches or being the first white man to score an ODI double century.

I always knew that my toes were stopping my sporting ability.

 Kane 'Steady The Ship' Williamson is the best batsman I have ever seen for New Zealand, with poise, confidence and technique, he is due for a big one in the final.

He also catches cricket balls like this.

Ross Taylor might be "out of form" (he is averaging close to 50 in ODIs in the past year), but he has a lot of talent and experience for the big stage.

This dude is an obvious winner.

I doubted Grant Elliott's inclusion before this World Cup. Did he care? Hell no. He proved me and many others wrong as I stood and chanted his name in that Semi-Final. He's an experienced, composed battler, who has seen and done it before against Australia.

He's a pretty awesome dude too.

Corey Anderson is a big brute, who can smash a century off 36 balls and back it up with the third best bowling strike rate in ODI history.

He's also pretty dreamy.

Luke Ronchi was once an Aussie, but he's a definite Kiwi now. His experience of playing agianst the Australian teams and on the MCG will be invaluble down the order.

He was just a sleeper agent, right? Yeah, let's go with that.

Dan 'the man' Vettori is the man, full stop. It's hard to describe him better than that. Our once captain-coach-selector-saviour in the dark ages is coming to the end of his career.I doubted his inclusion in the squad, but he's been the best spinner in the tournament, chipped in some handy runs (including the best boundary to third man in New Zealand history) and of course that catch. If this is his final stage, we owe to him to go out as the champion that he is.

Dan's my fave.

Matt Henry is a late addition to the team, but in a short ODI career, he averages under 20 with the ball and has one five wicket haul to go with two four wicket hauls. His pace and accuracy will be key in the final.

He's new, but he's good.

Tim Southee is great. His bowling in tandem with Trent Boult has been beautiful. Accuracy and swing will test the Aussies and he definitely has the ability to clear any boundary even the boundaries that go as far as the moon that the MCG holds, according to a certain Mr. Hayden.

Piss off, you're out.

Trent Boult is just amazing. The Black Caps haven't had a bowler of his calibre since Shane Bond in his prime. The effortless, glide to the crease before the swinging, pinpoint accuracy at pace has already accounted for 21 victims in this World Cup making it the most a Kiwi has ever taken in a single World Cup tournament. Plus, he has a strange resemblance to Adam Scott, which makes me love him more.

I think it's the small mouth.

So while my head says the Black Caps will lose, my heart says they will win. Everything so far has been fairytale. I know this Australian team is good. They bat deep and their bowling attack is fast and fearsome. But, if you see the way the Australians behave with their sledging and snarling compared to the hard, but fair play of New Zealand, it's obvious who the good guys are. We deserve this. Even if they don't win, I'll still be damn proud of this team. They have played and acted like gracious champions, so in my mind they are already winners.However, the rest of the world doesn't see it that way, so keep backing the Blackcaps and let's dare to dream.

Saturday, March 14, 2015

My Attempts At Poetry

#1 The Town

Buildings press hard
into the cold,
glowing night sky.

High heel clacks
off deserted shops,

music blares into vacant skulls,
words are shouted,
but barely heard.

Can fulfilling love
really be found
in such a hollow place?

#2 Start Of Winter

Clouds list lazily
across the pastel blue sky.
Their soft demanor
allowing for endless potential
molded in the eye of the beholder.
Trees cling to the last of their green,
preparing to reveal their souls.

As birds sing sweet nothings to each other,
a warmth sets in.
Not in temperature,
but in soul.

Akin to the clouds,
opportunity sits on the horizon,
waiting to be molded.

New experiences, faces and places
all sit within reach.
But they are not to be snatched at,
instead to be enjoyed as they fall like ripe fruit.

Ironic how such warm optimism
can be found
at the start of the years
and darkest months.

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

David, Goliath and the Far Away Fan

Stats, stats, stats. I love statistics for many reasons. They can be used to tell a story as I'm planning to do, used to win an argument or on the other hand be too hollow to tell the full story. Before I get into those stats, I'll start with a basic one. Seven. Seven applies to many things, including a pretty enjoyable thriller starring Morgan Freeman and Brad Pitt, but in this case I'm referring to the fact that seven days make up a week. This also comprises the number of days that I was aiming to have between posts. My last post was on the twenty-second of May, so it would seem I have failed at that. I will blame it on the fact that I had work for approximately a million days in a row. As the Shining said 'All monotonous work at the liquor store and no play makes Eddie unmotivated to write his blog' (that's pretty much verbatim, right?). But now that I'm well rested surely this will be my best blog yet (hmmm, perhaps lower those expectations). Okay, away from my digression. The stat that made me ponder this particular blog came to me on a rainy Sunday morning at a bar, surrounded by more than a hundred others (which fascinated me to no end, but that will come later) and it came in the form of this image:

It is well established that I am no mathmagician but with the help of a calculator, I have ascertained that the Real squad is worth roughly 6.6 times as much as the Atleti squad (disclaimer: None of my brain cells were harmed in the completion of this equation). A David and Goliath storyline is quickly established. Real with the two most expensive players purchased in football history in Gareth Bale and Cristiano Ronaldo and a mercenary manager in the form of Carlo Ancelotti. Comparatively, Atleti's stars consist of youth academy starlets Koke and Gabi while their manager is former player Diego 'Cholo' Simeone.
Don't mess with a guy who wears black on black on black like a boss
Despite the fact that Atletico had just broken the Barcelona-Real Madrid nine year stranglehold on the La Liga title and were competing in their second European final in three years, they were clear underdogs. This is true of the entire Madrid derby. Real were dubbed the government's team and were associated with money, while Atleti were conceived as more of a working class type team. This is characterised by their stadium locations. Real's Santiago Bernabeu is located alongside banks and businesses in the 'rich' part of Madrid whereas Atleti's Vincente Calderon is located amongst the cathedral and royal palace, emitting an idea of true Spanish heritage earned and not just bought.

Real Madrid stars seemingly even buy their looks

To the game, and for 92 minutes Atletico looked as if they would defy all odds and get only their second European competition win over Real and win the title. But it was not to be. Sergio Ramos equalised in the 93rd minute and into added extra time, Real continued their surge, inflicting an undeserved 4-1 defeat to Atleti. Now, you can hardly call me an Atleti ultra like my friend Riley who convinced me a bar at 6 am before a ten hour shift was a great idea (I had fun really, mate) but when Gareth Bale headed in the goal to take the lead, I felt a sharp jag of pain. I attribute this to the underdog effect.

No, not this guy.
Lahkdar Brahimi attributes the natural affiliation towards the underdog as a reflection of their own issues against a bigger opponent and the desire for a hero. As New Zealanders this idea is even more prominent. With a small population and constantly facing larger opponents, it is only natural that we support others in similar situations. This goal seemed particularly cruel with the worlds most expensive player, costing more than the entire Atleti squad, striking the killer blow. While, it is a ploy to enthral audiences into viewing and purchase products while keeping sport as an economically viable product, I still love the idea of this kind of dramatic storyline playing out through twenty two people kicking a ball from one end of a field to another.

I began with numbers and I want to continue that theme. 19,584. That's the number of kilometres between Auckland and Madrid. Yet on this Sunday morning, The Fox sports bar in downtown Auckland was packed with hundreds of people. Heck, it wasn't even a nice Sunday morning!

Cue wanky picture from my Instagram of the morning in question. Ooh such light flares.

This got me thinking, how do fans such as myself so far away become enamoured with a team? I dubbed idea 'the far away fan' and I feel it is extremely prominent. Of course, I support my local Wellington Phoenix but I also affix myself proudly to Arsenal and the Denver Broncos but why? I have never been to London or Denver so it's hardly geographical. I attribute my Arsenal fandom to my brother. When I was younger, I recall fondly watching games before school. I then began to enjoy the attributes of the club. The style, the idea of not buying titles but nurturing talent (and the winning. Five year old me was a mad glory hunter). The years have gone on and I've continued to be a fan. I've gotten snippy and had countless arguments with others because of their different club affiliation. Think about that for just a second. Two people on the other side of the world, arguing over sports clubs that they have no geographical loyalty, isn't that brilliant? Just another thing about sports that I will continue to be marvelled by and love.

Me + sports sitting in a tree....

 For homework, I encourage you to watch the remainder of the brilliant world cup. Goal galore, dancing and plenty of spirit will all fuel my next blog post called 'Sports on the World Stage'.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

They Say A Hero Can Save Us

Mmm, soak in that Chad Kroeger lyric inspired title
"Hate to see my hero @chriscairns168 getting his name dragged through the mud. Backing you all the way Cairnsy! #innocentuntilprovenguilty" That's a tweet from my personal Twitter account from the 10th of February this year. This was on the back of allegations of match fixing directed at Chris Cairns, which he was vehemently fighting against. The part of the tweet that intrigues me the most is the term 'hero'. Now, it's easy to see why Chris Cairns would be looked up to amongst the  New Zealand sporting community and particularly myself. Cairns was our best all rounder since Richard Hadlee and contributed some of the most memorable performances with the silver fern. His 102 against India to win New Zealand its only limited overs trophy thus far as well as his 7/27 against the West Indies to win us the test, comes to mind. It was not only these performances that endeared him to me but also his character. I will always remember injured Chris Cairns coming out  at number eleven to bat with Nathan Astle to put on 118 against England and almost winning us the test. While Astle scored an amazing 222, it is Cairns that stood out to me, trying to do all he could to win for his country. Cairns was not only a hero on the field. In 1993, his sister Louise was tragically struck down by a train. Chris remained strong and even honoured her by walking more than 1000kms to promote rail safety awareness. It's clear to see I hold a lot of adoration for Chris Cairns. Heck, I even went against the rule of meeting your heroes and now his signature is on my Beige Brigade shirt hung in my pool room along with the memories of a nice guy. So here's a guy who is talented at a sport I love, has overcome adversity and in my experiences is an affable character, is it any wonder that he's someone I would aspire to be like and dub a hero? These feelings are what has made this weeks accusations by Lou Vincent and Brendon McCullum that Cairns approached them to fix matches with him, all the more crushing. Imagine your hero being a cheat and bringing down every idea you had of them. While of course, he is innocent until proven guilty and I hope the allegations are refuted, this made me think. Did Chris Cairns ever ask to be my hero? Of course not. He was simply doing his job, yet so often sports stars are dubbed heroes and saddled with expectations. This has led me to explore the idea of the sports star as a hero and whether this is fair or not. Heroes are a constant within sports. Heck, even right now I have a ridiculous amount of worship for that beautiful Welsh man Aaron Ramsey for scoring the winning goal that gave Arsenal it's first title in over nine years.
I never doubted you, Rambo. Fiiiine, maybe a little bit.

There is of course the debatable idea of what constitutes a hero. Christopher Reeve, who portrayed the infallible hero of Superman claimed that a hero is "an ordinary individual who finds strength to persevere and endure in spite of overwhelming obstacles". This definition fits in well with sports because of the narratives I alluded to in my last blog. With the media always seeking to create a narrative, there is always the ability to overcome something, whether it be physical injury, return from suspension, a tough background etc. Mark Twain provides what I would say is a great description for why we admire these people as he said "Unconsciously we all a standard by which we measure other men, and if we examine closely we find that this standard is a very simple one, and is this: we admire them, we envy them, for great qualities we ourselves lack. Hero worship consists in just that".
Now that's a moustache-pipe combo that you can worship
This makes total sense for my devotion and now despair for Chris Cairns. The admiration for being great and skilled at something I loved, leaves a clear path for hero worship. But is it fair? As aforementioned, are these athletes not just doing their jobs? Is it fair to think of them as some kind of infallible hero just because they're in the public spotlight? This mode has allowed for disappointment after disappointment. Take for example, Oscar Pistorious. Someone I personally admired for his story. An amputee from eleven months old, who doesn't accept being restricted to paralysed events and becomes the first amputee to compete in able bodied competition and even in the 2012 London Olympics. A phenomenal story of perseverance, hard work and not accepting restrictions placed upon you, that anyone could learn from. Fast forward less than a year from his appearance at the Olympics and Pistorious is found to have shot his girlfriend dead. While sanity and motive are questioned in current trials, it is undeniable that a hero was lost to many that day. To less shoot-y experiences, my own with Brendon McCullum come to mind. I still remember it vividly. A fresh faced twelve year old boy asks the BlackCaps wicketkeeper how he differentiates the Marshall twins and is ridiculed for his pre-pubescent voice, until Stephen Fleming tells him to stop being a dick (still got love for you Flem).  In an instant, someone who I admired and who's autograph I wanted, became a dick who insulted pre-teens. This is my first memory of a hero disappointing me and formed a grudge that was only erased by him becoming the first New Zealander to score a test triple century. 
299 and we've still got beef, buddy
I realise this makes me sound cynical beyond my twenty one years (being a BlackCaps and Arsenal fan between 2004 and last Sunday will contribute to this), deriding the idea of allowing sports stars to be your heroes but this my recent disappointment has allowed me to follow the thinking of Noam Chomsky. He stated "I don't feel we should set people up as 'models'; rather actions, thoughts, principles". While I have focussed on the negative and the disappointments, there are still plenty of sports stars who are not only great on their field but off it as well. Type 'JJ Watt' into google and find a young man, who is the best at his position but won't buy extravagant items in fear of his mother's chagrin. A man who will make special visits to bullied children to be their friends, who will fake propose to a six year old, who is sad that she cannot marry him. Here's a man who's actions demand recognition and admiration. Russell Wilson is another. Trawl through his Instagram and find multiple pictures of his weekly visits to Seattle Children's Hospital, fresh off winning the grandest achievement in his sport, in just his second year. Even within Seattle, Richard Sherman is another who is a worthy role model. Brought up in Compton, he fought against the stereotypes to turn to gang violence, graduates from Stanford and becomes one of the best corner backs in the NFL. Yet the media labels him a 'thug' for passion in the heat of the moment after performing the biggest moment in his career. A man who rose from the ghetto to become an articulate role model, advertising those of similar upbringings to not accept being boxed into societal norms.

Don't try him with weak ass media stereotypes
So what should be taken from this whole ordeal? Should we no longer pursue sports stars as heroes? Of course not. Perhaps the hero title should be dropped. Yet there are still many that perform actions that demand admiration and the title of role model, even if they receive less media attention than their wrongdoing counter parts. Instead, this admiration should be taken with a grain of salt. Sports stars are still human and are prone to mistakes, so you have to be comfortable with the idea that while they will bring you great joy, they may also disappoint you. But this is what makes sports great, is it not? The idea of the unpredictable, riding the highs and slumming with the lows and if we can accept that from sport than there's no reason that we can't accept that from those that play it. I want to leave you with a quote from someone who I still call a role model, that has resonated with me this week. Someone who has always acted with integrity on and off the field and come back from injury to be better than before. "When you are chided for your naivete, and you will be, remind your critics that an amateur built the ark. Experts built the Titanic"- Peyton Manning.
This cat is a hero that will never let me down

Sunday, May 11, 2014

The Spectacle of Sport

Well I haven't done this in far too long but since I'm now a graduate (wooo!) and don't have much intellectual stimulation in my job, I thought I'd attempt to bring this back as a means of creative output. Topics can often be tough for things like this but I decided to go for a basic premise: my love of sport and its spectacle. Predominantly, people are drawn to things they excel at. Now I would never say that I am good at sport. I've never been the fastest or the most co-ordinated but I suppose every dog has his day (mine being a hat trick for the Metro under 10s, taking 5-15 when I was fourteen and batting three hours to save a game for the second XI) but I would in no way say that I am athletically gifted. What then draws me to spend hours every day reading about various sports from cricket to football to American football? The answer is the spectacle. Sport is a brilliant vehicle for unpredictable outcomes, unknowns becoming heroes, and endless passion. Sport is an international language that leads a young adult from New Zealand to form an association with people in London and Denver through my allegiance to Arsenal and the Broncos respectively. It can be understood and enjoyed by all, young to old such as myself and my grandfather. It is not race dependant nor is it exclusive but instead all encompassing. The unpredictability draws us together and it is two particular recent events that have made me think about this. One is the just completed 2014 NFL Draft and the other is the final day of the English Premier League due to finish overnight New Zealand time.

Me being average at sports since ages ago
My foray into American football is a recent development but it is quickly becoming my favourite sport. I have always loved statistics which is what endeared cricket to me despite my utter ineptitude at maths (I'm noticing a theme here. Note to self: start doing things that you're actually good at, ya dumbass). While cricket has averages, strike rates and the like, American football has yards per carry, yards per attempt, yards after the catch, I could really go all night but the just of it is that it is a statistician's dream. The NFL also provides some of the greatest sporting spectacle you can find in the world. The Super Bowl is an event watched worldwide even if the majority do not understand what they are watching. The draft is the epitomy of the spectacle that the NFL provides. Literally bright lights, cameras and the Radio City Music Hall in New York to select players out of college (what am I doing with my life again?). All of this but no actual physical activity! Yet plenty of what attracts people to sport: narrative.
Oooh flashy
These are young men reaching their dreams so the narratives are plentiful. Will the young, athletically talented man from the poor background be able to support his family is the prevalent narrative but this year threw out some interesting ones. When would the ridiculously talented but questionable character Johnny Manziel of Texas A&M be drafted? Would the first openly gay NFL prospect Michael Sam be drafted? Well firstly there was the struggle with Johnny. After sitting there sipping water for twenty one picks filled with close up after close up, Johnny Football was selected by the Cleveland Browns with the twenty second pick.
Mmm, bet you wish that wasn't just water huh, Johnny?
Will it be a good pick or will Johnny be another quarterback fail in Cleveland? This is surely a narrative that will be brought up for every one of the sixteen Browns games over the season and one I look forward to following closely. The other is that of Michael Sam. Late last year, Sam became the first ever NFL draft prospect to come out as gay. Many saw a chance for one of America's oldest games to step into the twenty first century but others saw bigoted comments and disapproval. Now Sam is a decent player, being named co-defensive player of the year in his conference last year, surely worth a draft pick but it seemed as if it wouldn't come. Then with the 249th pick of the draft, the St Louis Rams (the team that also selected the first black player into the NFL in 1946) called his name and produced this image.
Spine tingling
Again, narratives are prevalent as a man looking to achieve his dreams in the face of adversity is presented to the world. So I definitely look forward to hearing about Michael Sam the football player and less about Michael Sam the gay football player. This small sample size not even including games, shows the great sporting spectacle of the NFL and why it brings people together. The other event which is sure to illicit spectacle is the final day of the English Premier League.
While my Arsenal have long since been in the race for the Premier League title, the ending is still exciting. Liverpool, a club of great historical greatness, finally climbed back to the top until a late slip (sorry Stevie) allowed Manchester City back into the race. Now it comes down to the final day. If Liverpool win and Manchester City lose then the title will return to Anfield but all City need is to beat lowly West Ham at home to keep the title in Manchester. I remember City's title two years ago where a last minute goal from Sergio Aguero caused me to jump around at four in the morning as Manchester United missed out on the title. This was the greatest of sports narratives at hand. An Italian passes to an Argentinian, who scores causing thousands of English people to sing their names as the 'little brother' City upset United. Even within the game, sixteenth placed Queens Park Rangers were upsetting second placed City despite being a man down, demonstrating the 'Any Given Sunday' adage that makes me love sport so much. West Ham have pedigree in denying titles as they did twice to Manchester United in the 90s and also contain former Liverpool players, leaving a story book finish possible. I, personally think City will win the title but I've been wrong before about sport and will happily be wrong again but one thing is for certain, I'll be watching and loving every spectacle ladened minute of it.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

My research essay on cricket marketability.

I recently had the pleasure of writing a research essay on the transformation of the marketability of test cricket. I am pretty pleased with how it turned out so I thought why not post it here for anyone who is interested to give it a read.

Thesis statement: How have the strategies employed by cricket to enhance the marketability of short forms of the game impacted on the marketability of test cricket.
Since 1938 when cricket first became televised, it has needed to advance to match technological and societal needs. The invention of limited overs cricket to more modern phenomena such as Twenty20 cricket and addition of technology, list as the changes cricket has made to remain a successfully marketable television sport. The over arching theme is improvement through shortening test cricket. There would be reasonable belief that the marketability of test cricket would have dropped off dramatically but this is not the case. Citing the recent test match at Eden Park between New Zealand and England, there is definitive proof that test cricket remains a marketable form of the game.
 Crickets entry into being a mediated sport was a simple one and very much fits Rob Brookes’ idea that “television coverage of sports events should be as unintrusive as possible” (21). The first televised broadcast was in 1938 at the Lord’s cricket ground between England and Australia (Williamson). This is indicative of cricket’s status as a mediated sport. Cricket’s sportisation globalised it making it possibly for two countries 14,469 kilometres apart to appear on television playing each other. The initial coverage consisted of one camera from one end meaning the only different angles came from when the bowlers bowled from the opposite end. This fixed location made it seem as if the viewer was actually sitting behind the bowler’s arm (or behind the slips during other overs).This is simplicity defined with descriptive rather than analytic commentary accompanying the images. This initial style remained the same for forty years until the first three days of a test between Australia and England was rained off. Instead of abandoning the game, match officials decided to play a condensed version consisting of forty overs per side (Arnold and Wynne-Thomas 28). Australian businessman Kerry Packer saw this event and an opportunity for spectacularisation.
As all cricket has, the limited overs game originated in England but was globalised for success elsewhere. Original limited overs cricket was played between the English county teams over sixty-five overs each and was seen as a way to guarantee a result in a shorter amount of time (Arnold and Wynne-Thomas 27). Even in the 1970s, the desire was to have a game where excitement and a highly competitive nature were ensured. Gradually, the overs were shortened until it was fifty overs aside and taken to an international stage with the inaugural cricket World Cup in 1975. While this product was an extensification of test cricket, it lacked the spectacularisation required to be a greater success as a marketable sport. It was Packer’s World Series Cricket that spectacularised limited overs cricket into the success it would be for decades to come. ”Packer spectacularised the game with innovations such as coloured uniforms, night games, white balls, limited overs, and extra cameras” (Mckay and Rowe 73). This process of sportisation fought against Norbert Elias’ idea of extensive globalised rules for each sport as Packer’s unsanctioned World Series Cricket carried these innovations while sanctioned cricket did not. Yet through these innovations, Packer made cricket a mediated, successfully marketable television sport, which allowed him to purchase the broadcasting and marketing rights to cricket in Australia and apply his innovations (Rowe and McKay 74). These changes made cricket accessible to a wider audience. Instead of a long game over five days, which many people found dull with the excessive lulls and no guarantee of result, there was instead a shorter, more exciting product that could be accessed by more than just cricket experts. This created a wider audience both for the live product and the mediated, televised one. This wider audience that viewed cricket on television gained excitement not only from the changes in playing style but the increased cameras. This is a direct improvement from Brookes’ idea as instead of being rooted to one spot as if actually attending the game, the viewer was afforded angles that were greater than those that could be seen at the ground, creating a better product. The direct result of a wider audience is more money through sponsorship and it was Packer’s innovations that made cricket a desirable sport to sponsor. Packer achieved this as he made cricket a cornerstone for financial success for his Nine Network and set a module for the rest of the world (McKay and Rowe 74). The financial success that these innovations afforded meant that World Series Cricket could offer large contracts to all players, essentially professionalising cricket as a sport (Arnold and Wynne-Thomas 28).. The need to continue this evolution to keep audiences interested meant that change in cricket was inevitable with the processes used by Kerry Packer almost being recreated in the Indian Premier League.
There was a lull in major changes between the 1970s innovations by Packer to the proliferation of the Twenty20 game internationally in 2005. Between these periods further upgrades such as the hawk eye system to judge leg before wicket dismissals, the introduction of fielding restrictions as well as the introduction of a third umpire to adjudicate on run out dismissals were introduced. As well as introducing new technology, during this period there was integration of these new technologies onto the test game to maintain it as a successfully marketable product to a more puritan cricket audience. Despite the aforementioned small changes occurring, there was still a desire to extensify cricket further. Former New Zealand cricketer Martin Crowe offered a prototype into an even more intense version in the form of Cricket Max citing the desire to “provide great entertainment and an exciting result in three hours” (Cricinfo). Cricket Max’s failure is a testament to over-extensifying. Cricket Max changed the rules too dramatically as it altered the scoring to offer a ‘max zone’ which doubled runs scored, as well as removing the leg before wicket rule and adding a fourth stump (Cricinfo). These changes were designed as the next step in adding excitement for the spectators and adding on from the product of the one day international (Garland, Inkson and McDermott 220). The changes for Cricket Max ultimately proved too drastic as it never succeeded internationally or financially meaning it was unable to force itself into the market as Kerry Packer’s one day game did. Despite this relative failure, it is undeniable that Cricket Max had an influence on the next step in development in creating the Twenty20 form.
Twenty20 is extensification defined. It is the even shorter version of one day cricket. Completed in one day with each team having twenty overs each, the game is over in around three hours. Defined by action every ball it fits in with a contemporary society that seems to not have time for a seven hour one day international, with short attention spans making this essentially highlight reel format of the game very successful.  Again, the origin of Twenty20 is found in England as the county testing ground was the first place for the format beginning in 2003 (Arnold and Wynne-Thomas 47). Internationally, Twenty20 found its debut in 2005 and was initially treated as a lesser format. The first game was between New Zealand and Australia and was characterised by retro uniforms and wild attempts at fast scoring. The joke did not last long as crowds began to thoroughly engage with the new format as it fit a time frame that was accessible, often played at night and easy to take the whole family to. The appreciation for big hits and spectacular fielding requires little knowledge of the intricacies of the rules of cricket meaning there was an even wider accessibility in the audience. Twenty20s success at attracting new audiences lies in its lack of what Morris and Nydhal label ‘dead space’ (103). This is the time between actions, where analysis from commentators or other attendees of the live event can be implemented. However, with many Twenty20 viewers not understanding this analysis, the less dead space the better, which can be seen as a key reason of success in an entry level viewer market.  Due to the initial lesser status of Twenty20 there was great room for spectacularisation. Twenty20’s desire to be far from test cricket is evident in the fact that there must be a winner. Even in the event of a tie, Twenty20 offers a decider in the form of a one over eliminator. Initially the decider was a bowl off where five bowlers were given two balls to try and hit undefended stumps with whichever team hitting the most times winning. This was advanced to the one over eliminator which gives each team one over to get as many runs as possible. This is the antithesis to test cricket where even five days of play can result in a draw. This extensification is designed to guarantee the result that the crowd desires.  Minor innovations include the addition of cheerleaders and fireworks, which add to the excitement of the game as a spectacle.  It was from this spectacular form of the game that the most spectacularised event in modern cricket has emerged: The Indian Premier League.
The Indian Premier League formed in 2008 is reminiscent of Rupert Murdoch’s World Series Cricket. The premise of the tournament is the best players in world cricket coming together in a franchise style club competition being dubbed a cross between the English Premier League and the National Basketball Association League (Smart 259). The franchise owners are comprised of wealthy Indian people including Bollywood stars such as Shah Rukh Khan.  Players were placed into teams through an auction system where the highest bidder received the player. While this is akin to Kerry Packer offering expensive contracts to the best players for World Series Cricket the money offered in the IPL was far greater leading to fears of players rather playing IPL than for their country. Indian wicket keeper Mahendra Singh Dhoni was the most expensive players as he was purchased by the Chennai Super Kings for 1.5 million US dollars. The first IPL season consisted of 59 games and has expanded to the current season containing 76 games. This intensification creates a saturation of cricket in the month and a half that the IPL is played. The expansion can be seen as a way to make further money for the sponsors that paid large amounts for certain aspects of the IPL such as Sony paying USD $1.026 billion for production rights (Smart 259). Audiences across the globe were huge as the best players in the world hit countless sixes, took many wickets and spectacular catches, which is still true even in the most recent season where the first sixteen games recorded a viewership of 140 million (Srivastava). The tournaments huge amounts of money meant there was room for spectacularisation. While Packer was the first to implement the use of more camera angles, the IPL was able to have one camera that Packer never could in the form of the Spider Cam.  The Spider Cam operated from directly above the bowler, being able to track in from their run up all the way to the delivery. This shot is one never seen before and speaks credence to the advancements in spectacularisation that cricket has gone through. This is not to say that these advancements are all successful as many players have found the spider cam particularly invasive yet it still receives use, displaying that getting the best shot for the mediated audience can be more important than the game itself (Hindustan Times). The technology afforded through the large sums of money in the IPL has even allowed it to transcend what Rob Brookes thought would be possible. He thought that viewing sport online would never become popular yet the IPL has successfully used Youtube to stream live games to access audiences all across the globe (Brookes 48).  The transformation from a time when the use of more than one angle was an advancement in World Series Cricket has been tremendous, however these changes to the very marketable shorter form of the game have not diminished the marketability of test cricket.
There are several reasons that prove the fact that test crickets marketability is not diminishing. In 1999, Ron Garland et al conducted a study into the unpopularity of test cricket. The common results consisted of it being a boring sport, a lack of understanding of the rules, the duration being too long, unruly behaviour in the crowds and a preference for television coverage (227). While this research was completed fourteen years ago, there are still applicable elements to it. There is still an underlying theme of test cricket being overly long and boring, which Sky Sports director of cricket Alex Lewis attributes this to the double edged sword that is Twenty20. He labels Twenty20 a double edged sword as despite conditioning audiences to expect action every ball, it is still an excellent entry level for transforming what Garland et al labelled a new follower to a regular viewer (227).  There are facts to display this as a true phenomenon through the rise in television audiences. The television ratings for the week of the Eden Park test showing it as the second most watched sporting event between males 18-64 (Rating Point). This is not to discount the Twenty20 audience being larger as the corresponding Twenty20 match at Eden Park ranked as the highest watched sporting event during its week for males 18-64 (Rating Point). The closeness of the television ratings of the two contrasted forms is not reflected in attendances. For the Twenty20 between England and New Zealand the attendance went as high as 23,000 whereas the test did not feature nearly as many people, as even on the drama filled final day Eden Park was nowhere near capacity (  Alex Lewis labels this as more a fact of convenience to home viewing than an idea of television providing a better viewing choice than the live event.  Martin Devlin attributed the disparity between attendances and audience ratings to the extremely high price of tickets claiming that just one day could cost as much as between $80 and $100. This shows the easier engagement with Twenty20 as people find it easier to attend a three hour game in the evening rather than an eight hour day of test cricket.
There is also a contrasting atmosphere between the two forms crowds. Crowds during Twenty20 matches produce an animalistic passion through cheering which Gaffney and Bale describe as the audience creating an atmosphere through the noise only achievable with large numbers of fans in attendance (29). Test cricket is the opposite as the tension is created through a lack of noise. As the Eden Park test displayed, cricket puritan groups such as the Barmy Army kept quiet through the run up of the bowler, creating tension with each and every ball. This is indicative of the idea that whileTwenty20 is the feeder form to the purer form in test cricket they offer different experiences show the Garland et al idea that each form of cricket contains differing appeals (226). Not only has it fed audiences to the next level of cricket, Twenty20 has also helped encourage participation. The most recent SPARC participation statistics show 217,000 children between the ages of five and eighteen play cricket (Walker and Haughey 22). The correlation to the prominence of Twenty20 and attractiveness of cricket as a sport can be seen in the participation of younger children who would have been raised in a time where Twenty20 was played regularly. This is displayed by school children between years one and ten, at least half of them had participated in cricket in the last year whereas older students in years eleven to thirteen had less than half participation (Walker and Haughey 24). This speaks credence to Twenty20 attracting a younger audience with its exciting style of play making it more accessible to a youth audience.  There have in fact been arguments for the end of One Day Internationals and just keeping the excitement of Twenty20s and the drama of test matches (Premachandran). These examples display that Twenty20 is in fact helping to uphold a greater cricketing following leading to a wider potential fan base for test cricket rather than causing an end to it.
This is not to say that test cricket lacks innovations to create a marketable spectacle. A notable innovation is the Umpire Decision Review System implemented in 2009 and initially only in test cricket making it a notable inversion. The system is designed to review dismissals that the players feel the umpires have got wrong. Not only does the system remove incorrect decisions, it is also a vehicle for battling test cricket as a boring sport as it injects drama into the narrative. The countdown to the decision being made by the third umpire on the big screen at the live event builds particular tension as the live audience does not get to see the video that the televised audience does. At the Eden Park test between England and New Zealand this was particularly dramatic as there were four referrals on the final day as New Zealand searched for the final wickets. On television it provides a greater product as it induces interaction. The conversation produced regarding whether the umpire made the correct decision or if the referral was the correct choice, producing interaction with the product, keeping a greater audience interest. This example displays that test cricket in its own right can create a marketable product upon its own innovation.
In conclusion, cricket has undergone many transformations in its quest to remain a marketable viable sport. It has moved far from the one camera original broadcast in 1938. Kerry Packer innovated the sport hugely in professionalising it through contracts and greater technology through money. This was continued through one day internationals that gradually created a more and more exciting product drawing in a more regular audience and dispelling ideas of cricket being a boring sport. This has ultimately concluded in the spectacularised, intensified version in Twenty20 and the Indian Premier League. This has however not detracted from the longer form of the game. Test cricket has undergone its own spectacularisation in the form of innovations such as the Umpire Decision Review System. As well as this, test cricket has received a push through audiences from Twenty20 displayed in the high television ratings the third test between England and New Zealand received. The extra interest that Twenty20 allows in cricket has also carried over to participation in cricket in school with younger students participating more due to the influence of Twenty20. This overall displays that test cricket does not suffer from the focus onto the shorter forms of the game as it receives a flow through audience from the shorter form and participation increasing, making sure that test cricket will continue to survive the test of time as a marketable sport.

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