Tuesday was a big day for New Zealand: It was the Cricket World Cup semi-final. The New Zealand team (aka the Black Caps) were playing on home soil against South Africa at the stadium up the street. Eden Park is smack in the middle of a residential area and a walkable distance from where we live. One of the neighborhood ANZ bank branches put out free banners for fans on their way to the stadium.
Atlantans: Imagine that the Braves were about to play a game that would have sent the team to its first World Series, and you lived a 15 minute walk from Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium. Tuesday may have felt something like that.
This eight-hour game, usually only watchable with a Sky subscription, was aired on a broadcast channel starting at 2 p.m. It was on at home in the background, it was on at the pubs. I don’t think you could escape it.
(Update: Lies. My bank, not ANZ, called me at home during the game. Am I happy that my bank called during the game? Ehh. I questioned why they were working…)
Maybe I Understand Some Cricket
I understand cricket somewhat better now than I once did, but I need to create baseball rough equivalents to keep track. It works for me to a point. Actual cricket or baseball fans will nitpick over these false equivalencies, but it helps me at least keep up in conversation. Fifty overs are roughly similar 50 at-bats. You can score off small hits and up to six points if you hit it out of the park, resulting in scores in the hundreds. Wickets are kinda of like getting the batter out but more, because half the game is over after getting nine of them.
That all said, I’m still learning. I totally missed the first wicket during South Africa’s at bat because I was glancing at my computer. I recognized the second wicket, in that I saw a Black Cap catch a maybe-something-maybe-not.
At one point, I thought there was a fourth wicket on South African captain AB de Villiers because the Black Caps were high-fiving each other over something. I accidentally made someone in my household very excited unnecessarily. At this point, I recognized my responsibility to shut up and let the TV do its job by broadcasting crowd reaction.
It turns out that de Villiers scored much points. It was an uncomfortable third hour of cricket to watch if you were hoping for a Kiwi win.
Rain caused a game delay around 5 p.m. Broadcast channel Prime decided to replay the New Zealand-Sri Lanka game during the delay, which was kept on just in case the game goes back to the semi-final. Unfortunately, whenever the TV had excited crowd sounds, we had to remind ourselves it was not the semi-final game.
Eventually, the rain delay ended and the officials cut the game short by reducing the number of overs each side got from 50 to 43.
The Black Caps batted later in the evening, a game watched on pub screens across from the burger place, at the pub itself and back at home. Could the Black Caps get almost 300 points on 43 overs?
It was thrilling to find out. And stressful over four hours. Come 11 p.m., if you were watching the game, you were hoping for a really good hit in one of the last throws. It happened when Grant Elliott, South African-born but immigrated to New Zealand in 2001, hit a ball out of the park and pushed the Black Caps score beyond South Africa’s. Click here for highlights — unfortunately I couldn’t find something that would not autoplay when embedded into the page.
Fireworks came out of Eden Park and Sky Tower (a Space Needle-looking building down in the CBD). We could see traces of the fireworks from our living room window last night.
This game seemed similar to the one New Zealand played against Australia, in that the game was decided on a hit out of the park in the last or second-to-last ball pitched. Two is not a trend, but it’s worth remember that the Black Caps squeaked by in very, very close games.
Grant Elliott, Sid Bream Helped Me Get Used to My New City
I had a sense of deja vu watching the game in my pajamas last night, that I had done this before. I did. In 1992, my family had moved from New York to Atlanta. My brother and I had just started school, and at least one day a week was deemed Braves day. Little obnoxious kids ask questions if you don’t wear a Braves hat on Braves day. I already had been singled out among classmates for sounding like Joe Pesci if he was an eight-year-old girl wishing for a Samantha doll, so gear or information that was Braves-related helped in my assimilation.
One weeknight in Atlanta, I remember watching the game 7 of the 1992 National League Championship Series, the game that decides one of two teams that will play in the World Series. What I remember is the game being really close and the Braves being down. The more important thing I remember is the mustachioed Brave (Sid Bream) sliding into home and the ump calling him safe, giving the Braves the win and its second berth to the World Series.
Watching Grant Elliot get the six on the second-to-last pitch was like watching Sid Bream get called safe. And I feel that after watching moments like that, now I have a moment that I can relate to others: Where were you when that player nailed that game-winning point?
I was at home.