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SportsDecember 15, 2018

The Spinoff Hot Take Advent Calendar: December 15


Every day in the lead-up to Christmas, open the door to reveal a Spinoff writer’s short, sizzling commentary on a weighty subject. Our arbitrary and strictly enforced word limit: 365. Today: Simon Day on why cricket is the best sport in the world (and rugby sucks).

Today is officially the first day of summer. December 1 is an irrelevant convenience, and the summer solstice is palpable only to scientists. Today has true significance when at 1030am the summer ceremoniously begins when Black Caps captain Kane Williamson and Sri Lanka’s Angelo Mathews shake hands in front of Basin Reserve pitch and toss a coin to mark the beginning of the cricket season. It’s the best season of the year, filled with the greatest sport in the world.

Black Cap Kane Williamson in full flight.

While rugby is our grotesque national obsession the important place cricket has in New Zealand society is often overlooked. Cricket is the guardian of our summer. It’s a familiar narrator to long days in sun; Bryan Waddle is our David Attenborough, the voice of decades of Kiwi beach holidays.

It’s an old friend who returns to your world just when you need them. And after a long winter, cricket just knocked on my door with a box of beers and a bag of bhuja mix to see what I’m doing for the next three months.

It’s equal parts beauty and bizarreness. It’s a sophisticated sport, full of finesses, rhythm and swing. A strange team game defined by individual battles between batsman and bowler. It’s governed by complicated inexplicable rules and the players are dressed in eccentric equipment.

Its history is deep and layered, full of characters and colonial battles. In its finest form, the test match, its execution is a multi part chess match, that can be riveting entertainment for five days straight.

For long term followers of the Black Caps, cricket is an honest companion that keeps you grounded, reminding you that success should be celebrated when its stumbled upon because it’s a rare treasure. The investment in long days that for years ended in humiliation and suffering are necessary to have a rationale appreciation of how much fun it is when you win.

New Zealand’s obsession with rugby is weird and unhealthy. It’s created an expectation of robotic excellence that must end in victory, creating an android army of fans that are ready to revolt if the All Blacks lose.

Get some perspective: spend some quality time with the Black Caps over summer.

Read the Spinoff Hot Take Advent Calendar in full here.

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