Martin Devlin: Epic Ashes series showcases the brilliance of Test Cricket

Martin Devlin,
Publish Date
Wednesday, 7 August 2019, 12:29PM

In praise of test cricket. The first of five Ashes tests wound up yesterday, another epic encounter full of drama, intrigue and tension.

A fluctuating game dominated in the end by the bat of the once vilified now beatified, former and soon to be reinstated Australian skipper, Steve Smith.

If you aren't at all interested I feel only pity that you'll never get what it is you're missing out on. If, like me, you had the time and inclination to stay awake when most were asleep then you'll have witnessed one of the greatest mind over matter sporting performances you'll see anywhere all year. 

To be banned as Australian captain for cheating, to wear a year's worth of constant fallout, to be scrutinised in public as intensely as he's been and  to block it all out on the way to consecutive centuries was a masterclass.

Very few sportspeople across any code whatsoever possess the level of internal strength and concentration needed to achieve what he did, let alone do it in front of a teasing, baying, relentless crowd on you and at you for every minute of every session covering the full five days.

Test cricket is a treasure, a pleasure, to be consumed at your leisure- and therein lies the reason it seems to be a relic best enjoyed by those of us from generations past.

The 30-second attention span Facebook Instagram crowd not just don't have the time, but won't allow themselves the time to take the time to spend enough time to get to understand the joy of what test cricket brings.

Yes it's a long haul, yes it's a commitment of a watch, yes it ebbs and flows and drifts and wanders and occasionally appears like nothing in fact is happening. But that's the point. It's only when you're fully immersed do you begin to appreciate the intricacies, the intimacy that is everything about this beloved sport.

The sheer variety of sounds is something special in itself. That paralysing clatter of stumps being splayed, the definitive thwack that instantly says ball perfectly timed to boundary fence, the subdued but always polite applause that only ever accompanies an opponent's excellence.  

Test cricket is the difference between tea from a pot or a bag. The former is about patience, the ritual, the time taken and needed to brew the perfect cup. The latter all about instant gratification, I want it now and I'm not prepared to wait.

Long live test cricket and its glorious subtle ambience. To lose this form of the game would be the dumbest move the sport could ever make. If you get it, if you get the nuances that make it so essential then no explanation is necessary. If you don't then there's nothing I will say that can truly explain it.