I've been getting asked this a lot lately. It's the middle of winter in Auckland, and about as far from the cricket season as you can get. So, inevitably, when the conversation turns to the fact that I am unashamedly a cricket tragic, I always get asked "why do you go to the cricket?".
To put it in context, I am not your archetypal diehard cricket fan (if such a thing really exists). Busy mum, from the suburbs, I work as an IT Project Manager. I like shoes, nail polish and fashion. I don't actually play the game, as mentioned in my previous blog. I don't watch women's cricket, it's just the blokes I like to watch. Am I painting a picture here?
Considering I am often the only chick anywhere around the boundary rope, I have often asked myself "who are these other people watching the match, and why are they here?"
So, as you do, I struck up conversations with the odd bods that I saw regularly at Colin Maiden to find out a bit more about what drove them to follow cricket.
One chap, whose name escaped me, impressed me the most. I truly aspire to be like him when I am in my dotage. This guy is no spring chicken, but he has plenty of time on his hands. He is from England, and I could always spot him down near the Long On boundary in an advanced state of undress ready to sun worship. He was always happy, always smiling, and no wonder! He loves the game so much that he was touring NZ, and going to as many domestic matches the length and breadth of NZ as he could fit in! Lucky, lucky sod.
Another chap who popped along from time to time was a retiree and lived locally. He had two adult daughters, and a wife running his life for him. One day he told me he loved his cricket as a lad and was very good at it, but had to choose between tennis and cricket. He went on to become the National Under 20 tennis champ, and was justifiably proud of his achievement. But I couldn't help feeling a bit sad for him because I could tell that he had never really let go of his cricket dreams, even after all these years. So watching the cricket seemed to put him in his happy place. Plus, I suspect it gave him time off from the women at home!
The one other lady cricket tragic that I have seen regularly at Colin Maiden, is easily mistaken for one of the player's mums. I certainly thought she was. She has her spot up on the balcony, just along from the player's area. I've often heard her calling out "well done Gareth" and "good show Colin" whilst clapping politely. As it turns out, her background is not too dissimilar to my own. She grew up hearing cricket on the radio and in a family that was very involved in the sport. For her to sit back and watch a full match unfold in front of her, where she can interact with the players occasionally, reminds her of her youth, and of a time when life was less complicated.
Which leads me to why do I go to watch cricket. Honestly? There are a number of reasons. First and foremost, I live an incredibly busy life, surrounded by a lot of technology (which I love). When I go to a Plunket Shield match- my personal favourite- there is nothing else going on in my head. I check out of my busy life for a while. I put my feet up. I sit in the sunshine. I chat to a lovely bunch of people about all kinds of things.
Yes, I admit I cop a perv at a bunch of fit blokes every now and then. I accidentally got a peek at a rather fine six pack from a bowler one day, and couldn't wipe the smile off my face. Yep, pretty transparent, I know. But I am only human!
The sad thing is, I have taken to answering the big question about why I go to watch cricket in a very offhand way with jokes about how I am there to "just look at all the spunks ". When the reality is, that's not strictly true. But somehow that is easier for some people to believe than the fact that I am there because I just love the game and all it represents.