Random Play by Graham Reid

In Two Minds

Like many people -- including most of the crowd in Eden Park, some of the television commentators, and not a few players it seemed -- I was baffled and then bemused by the end of the 20:20 cricket match between New Zealand and the West Indies.

Then again, I’ve never understood the Donald Duckworth System either, so maybe I’m not a reliable commentator.

But what baffled me was not the idea of cricket being played by a bowler without a batsman, but the need to settle on a winner.

Okay, the "bowl-off" was exciting and unintentionally hilarious, but a draw seemed a perfectly acceptable result -- and it’s not like cricket crowds are unused to such an outcome.

I remember reading the South Pacific edition of Time magazine at some time in the 70s and they did a cover story about the Ashes series. On a countback of the results it was shown that one third of the times Australia had won, another third England had won, and the other third … You guessed it.

Okay, money and not sport is what the 20:20 thing is about in all likelihood, so maybe that demanded a winner be settled on. But the need for one side to win is quite prevalent.

We saw it recently with that referendum in River Queen territory when people were asked to decide on whether Wanganui should change to the spelling -- the logical one when you consider its origins -- of Whanganui.

A vote was held and the locals who bothered with the ballot decided to stick with the name they had. Folks, we have a winner!

But on a television news item a reporter said that such debates about place names wasn’t new. The young journo cited the case of Mt Egmont which she said had originally been called Taranaki, then became Mt Egmont, and then became Taranaki again.

If memory serves me well that’s not exactly true.

Yes, it was (obviously) called Taranaki by local Maori, then it became Mt Egmont when the colonials arrived and then . . .

Well, the debate was on-going and lines were being drawn. But in a brilliant piece of lateral thinking the government of the day announced that people could call it what they preferred: if you knew it as Taranaki then that’s what it was, similarly if you’d always called it Mt Egmont then feel free to carry on.

It was an enlightened result and today that’s exactly what happens, although there has been a perceptible -- and inevitable -- shift towards Taranaki over the past couple of decades.

Rather than have a vote, the good citizens of Wanganui could have adopted that idea.

Oh, the people will cry, it would cost a fortune to have both.

That trivial problem doesn’t seem to worry many who took part in the Mt Egmont/Taranaki debate these days. Life just went on and both sides were satisfied. Still are it seems.

And it’s not like we can’t live with two parallel ideas: we comfortably shift between Imperial and metric measures (although we rarely heard the word “avoirdupois“ mentioned) and many of us -- not just people born in the 50s or before -- still use miles rather than kilometres.

(In Auckland however we are increasingly speaking of distances in hours.)

There seems no problem with incomprehension, it is all readily understood. “I’m five foot six and weigh 85 kilos, like long walks on beaches . . .”

We are used to juggling parallel concepts.

Is it a bach or a crib? Like the bathing suit/underwear ad on the tele, it depends on where you are standing at the time.

So maybe in our rush to find A Clear Result or Definitive Answer we are denying ourselves that capacity of holding two or more ideas simultaneously.

And to accept a draw -- which is actually a result, of course.

Just a thought. Or two.