ICC World Cup Cricket: Thoroughly Good Entertainment
Want to know a secret? I haven't watched a game of cricket since Ian Botham retired, half a lifetime ago. Other than the all-out aggression, bordering on the reckless, that Beefy brought to the game, I've never found it in any way interesting. I've always considered it a dull game, played by dull men for ageing Yorkshiremen.
However the staging of the Cricket World Cup in my newly adopted backyard changed things for me.
Initially the idea to go to a game was suggested to me by my wife, who thought that it would be a good thing to take the children and provide them with a unique experience. (The same sentiment prompted us to buy tickets for the FIFA Under-20 Football World Cup, which coincidentally also takes place here this year). So we booked a family ticket for the final first round game to be played at Auckland's Eden Park: India v Zimbabwe.
What an astonishingly good idea that turned out to be. A whole day of wonderful entertainment in a carnival atmosphere with fans who, whilst cheering their own team on, were happy to applaud the achievements of the opposition too.
This was completely different to the sports I'm used to following. There was an actual element of competition to the game, the winner wasn't pre-ordained like in F1. There were no prima donnas, cheating and pushing the rules, crowding the referees as in Football.
Reigning Champions India were favourites to win this game, but until two-thirds of the way through their innings the result was still in question. That the game was only decided with one over left of a fifty over innings shows how close it was between the teams.
The majority of the support in the stadium was for India, and the way that they supported their team was a credit to their country. It was great to see so many people enjoying a game for their love of the sport, young and old; families and diehard supporters; as a neutral it was amazing to experience. My family thoroughly enjoyed the whole day.
The ICC and Eden Park have to be congratulated too. Prices were reasonable (NZ$90 for a family of four in prime seats, merchandise was reasonably priced, food and beverages at the same prices you'd pay at a normal cafe) and the event was well organised with plenty of things to do away from the cricket - especially for those with children.
In one day, from one game of World Cup Cricket, there was more excitement, more drama and more entertainment than the whole of the 2014 F1 season. Is it any wonder that F1's audience is shrinking?
I'll certainly be taking a greater interest in Cricket after this experience.