Thank God that's over then. The fans had expected a feast, but the The Super Eights provided an over-cooked fifteen-dollar Sunday roast in a dank empty corner of a sprawling buffet hall with ample parking under the motorway bypass. Later, amidst the gravity of cricket post-mortems and historical anecdote, few of the talking points from this marathon event will involve name players doing special things with bat or ball. We've been daily shaking ourselves out of the scratcher before the sparrows even begin to fart, rubbing our eyes, turning on the box, reading the score, more eye-rubbing, yet another drubbing.
But hold the phone – there was a really good game yesterday. The stars came out to shine, with the bat at least, as two average teams defiantly slugged and strutted their way out of world cup irrelevance. Top job Pietersen, Vaughan, Gayle, Chanderpaul. Paul 'Dick' Nixon showed again his cleverness. Marlon Samuels batted brilliantly after sawing off his captain, which was all kind of appropriate. Sir Brian Lara has oozed artistry for so many years, but when he fails in a one-dayer his team tend to follow, and they've bottled it often in recent times. Wearing maroon, they may be better off without him.
If the enduring themes of this cup are to be greed and corruption within a bloated commerical sphere, and the jolly useful Australian team are indeed to steamroll everybody in their path, then this game was full of meaning for the health of cricket. English and West Indies fans took turns at thundering hoots inside the Kensington Oval as a result finally went down to the final balls of the full fifty. Who cares who won it. This was cricket catharsis.
How to lose
I'm half-English you see, and we can learn a lot from the Poms about losing. We despise losing in New Zealand, though you'd think we'd be getting good at it. We stand like munted farmers suffering a lengthy wedding speech with an empty glass, benumbed, quietly grunting. The English adore losing. Pathos brings them all together, like ale, or Horlicks. Nobody can weep, roar, lash out and rinse out like they can. Their bards (Morrissey, the Gallaghers et al) embody perfectly the spirit of losing, their football world cup anthems are all bittersweet crapness. It's pretty easy to choose the soundtrack to your montage of delirium when you win, but the art is in finding the rallying medication for withered hearts when you lose.
I don't really plan to work or sleep on Wednesday, so if our team sails on ahead and tows our nation's collective longboat into uncharted territories, dark and final, I shall drink and drive naked around the streets of Waverley, tooting the leaves from the poplars. But should our team satisfy the cricket world's expectations and capitulate to the uber-cool Sri Lankans, again, I'll silence the transistor radio, thumb through the albums and reach for a perfectly shaped aural synthesis of wistful Englishness and Jamaican ska, courtesy of The Specials:
You're wondering now, what to do,
now you know this is the end.