GeneralA Fool’s Guide to Watching a Boxing Day Test

A Fool’s Guide to Watching a Boxing Day Test

Try to keep yourself up all night. Keep yourself busy. Burn yourself out. If the day’s play begins at 4 AM, try to go to bed at 4. The first session is the worst. If you sleep through it, you can pretend it didn’t happen. Do this for all fiv- four days.

Wake up in a cold sweat at 5:30 AM. Bleary-eyed, flail your arms around for your phone. Chest burning, check the score. If it’s something like the other team batting at 260-6 or your team at 47-1 at 17 overs, go back to sleep with some semblance of relief. If it’s anything else, go back to sleep with an increased risk of waking up a patient of hypertension. Repeat this process at 6:17, then at 7:34, then at your alarm for 8:30.

Get out of bed and fumble for the remote. On Day 1, find that you have woken up in the middle of lunch, so play is paused. Discover there was a catch drop. These things don’t faze you anymore. On Day 2, press the remote and find that the cable is out. Turn on an illegal stream. It is four balls behind play. It is an affair of masochistic proportions to know what will happen before it actually does. But you’re going okay, just about sailing smoothly. Watch a wicket fall. That’s fine, part of the game. Watch another wicket fall. Realize you know what happens now. Close the lid of your laptop. Breaking the law can only favor you so much.

On Day 3, don’t bother with the remote until you find out the other team is 7-2. Go to the bathroom, determined to watch the rest of the session. Come out of the bathroom to find the other team is piling up, 16-4. Watch your hands shake with giddiness when you press the remote. Discover that the cable is out. Realize that it is probably your lack of active watching that has brightened your team’s fortunes. Go about your day, trying to follow the same principle as “if you touch your new tooth with your tongue, it will come out crooked.” If you don’t watch at all, you will come out victorious.

Curiosity kills the cat. Check the score. 4 down. 4 down. 4 down. There is another catch drop, similar to the previous one. Realize that maybe these things do faze you a little bit. Go to class. 4 down. 4 down. Tea. 4 down. 5 down, a century prevented. Take the win, and try to ignore the disaster of magnanimous proportions that it took to get there. Try not to feel like you drank a liter of the type of antibiotic syrup that leaves a bitter residue at the back of your mouth for two business days. Be glad the day is over.

On Day 4, repeat your awake-phone-asleep routine of score-checking. Wake up to your team 2 down, then 3. Brave the storm for once and actually try to watch. The cable is not out. Babar is not out. Maybe today, the tide will turn. Keep watching. Think, hey, this isn’t so bad. Watch the stumps clatter. The cable is not out, but Babar is. Placate yourself with thoughts of the year ending. Think about turning the TV off, then decide that you will win. The conviction has to arise spontaneously, with no rational backing, unafflicted by reason. You will win. Watch Rizwan bat. You will win. 99 runs away, you will win.

Something happens. Watch him appeal, his slender arms outstretched, blue eyes popping out of his socket (make an assumption here, the cable isn’t high definition enough for these details). Be unfazed. You will win. Watch him take a review with 3 seconds to go. You will win. Watch every confusing frame of hotspot and snicko. Wonder what a snicko is. Wonder why they don’t call it ultraedge. Wonder if the word snicko came before the word ultra-edge. Wonder if there is any readable literature on the etymology of cricket terms. You will win. There is a spike. No one knows where, not even the guy watching out for the spike. But he is happy, smile popping out of his face, a captain who has had a lot to smile about recently.

Stew in confusion.

Will you win?

Tweet something about the inevitable downfall of the white man’s empire. Tweet something about how stupid the phrase ‘Down Under’ is. Tweet something about how big IPL cheques are just a speck of dust in the grand scheme of things. Watch Agha fix his gloves. Try to keep a counter of every ball he fixes his gloves on. 50.4, 50.5, 53.1. Watch Agha get to 50. You might win, but you know better. Watch Agha fall. Watch him get 5. Watch the rest of the day slip out like water through your fingers.

But there was a whole day left. But it was fine an hour ago. But you were winning. But they were 16-4. Move through the five stages of grief. Invent new ones if they fall short. Consider signing up for a counseling session, decide maybe a sport should not have this much bearing on your life. Go to bed, hours before 4 AM. Ponder. 16-4.

Get ready to do it all over again.

The author

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